Bid to ease summer gridlock in Killarney

Faced with another summer of congestion in Killarney, local representatives as well as the town’s jarveys are coming up with solutions.

Gardaí on permanent point duty at key junctions along with direct access for jarveys to the national park from their stand in the town centre are now being sought.

Gridlock in Killarney has been the subject of a previous delegation to the council, with hoteliers claiming guests were missing trains and staff could not reach work.

A traffic management study, by consultants Malachy Walsh and Partners, put forward a number of solutions in late 2016, but most of these have yet to be enacted.

Killarney town councillor Donal Grady is now asking that two gardaí be put on traffic duty — not just for the races or big football matches but on a daily basis during the season, to try to handle the traffic this summer.

“We are a very, very busy town. Someone must be on the beat directing traffic this summer. Put two people in black spots where traffic is building up,” he appealed to Kerry Chief Supt Tom Myres, and other senior gardaí at the recent Joint Policing Committee meeting.

The council says it is seeking solutions. However some of these will take years and millions of euro to implement. It blames funding constraints over the past decade which saw a key outer bypass as part of the upgrade of the N22 Killarney to Tralee road put on hold.

Tourist numbers in Killarney have continued to grow and some 1.1m tourists now converge on the town, most of them in the summer period. Congestion, as well as a lack of parking spaces, is one of the biggest gripes.

The 40 or so jarveys operating from the purpose-built jarvey stand at the Hahah, which is an island between two main junctions, were found to be part of the traffic problem by the consultants in 2016 . They travel down Mission Road for around half a kilometre to gain entrance to the National Park, slowing traffic, turning onto the road. However moving them would take from the charm of Killarney, both visitors and locals feel.

Pat Joy, a member of Killarney Horse & Carriage Tours, a 15-member co-operative, said a direct entrance into the national park by breaking the wall opposite the jarvey stand would alleviate the problem.

Jarveys are part of the tourist industry for generations but are not regularly consulted by either the council or the NPWS or consultants.

“An entrance would suit everyone. There’s a track inside the wall already,” Mr Joy said.

A spokesman for Kerry County Council said the purpose of the traffic study was “to prioritise projects identified in the earlier study,” the 2006 Masterplan for Killarney.

The need for the Killarney outer bypass, local road improvement schemes, and additional parking were priorities. “Arising out of the review a number of these are now being progressed including the development of a new car park on Rock Road, upgrading of Kenmare Place junction, improvements to the existing road network (Muckross Road / Port Road / improvements to the Woodlawn and Ross Road junctions, along with Plunkett Street upgrading and pedestrianization.