Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Does it Flood?

When meeting people who have come to Clonmel for the first time, either as retailers or potential homeowners, one of the first questions they ask about a property is “Does it flood?”

We have gotten headlines in the National media for all the wrong reasons at one stage or another, due to a couple of spectacular flooding incidents over the last 10 years. Despite global warming and an increase in the amount of rain that falls each year, Clonmel actually needs a combination of a number of factors to flood badly. A lot of rain is obviously a pre-requisite, normally 3-4 days of the heavy constant type. This allows the rivers to rise due to the initial rainfall, then to be further swelled as the rain washes down from the surrounding mountains and higher ground. A strong South-Easterly wind, coupled with a high tide, slows the River Suir’s progression to Waterford and voila, parts of Clonmel start to flood.
The fact that it is the run-off from the mountains that really does it means that the worst of the weather has generally passed by the time that the flood gets underway. This gives an eerie sense of stillness to the flooded areas, where no cars or people move. When you get up close though, it is anything but calm, with the powerful force of the water pushing through streets close to the River and into houses and offices nearby.
Generally, the area around the Quay and the lower-lying areas of Old Bridge are most at risk. The Waterford Road area can be hit also, with the road being blocked and some properties (Garages and Supermarkets) being damaged. We rarely see any damage elsewhere. In the town centre, some basements flood on O’Connell St. In the worst recent flood, 7 years ago, our office on Gladstone St got a few inches of water in the basement, but it disappeared within 24 hours.

The Flood Relief plan is well underway, with approx. €9m of a €25m budget spent.
The picture shows the wall built from Irishtown to the Old Bridge. It is intended to fill the concrete spaces with stone.

This picture shows the existing railing from there onwards. If you look carefully, you can see Worldwide Cycles, where Barry and Ray offer great advice and products to the cycling fraternity. The railing is not much good at containing the river! On many occasions during a flood spell, these railings are completely under water, as a picture above shows!

This is why it was decided to erect a wall. Unfortunately the wall will obstruct the view of the river and in some cases the mountains. It is a huge amenity loss to the town, but if you were in the Flood Zone, I think that any remedial measures that work would get your vote.

The picture from 1949 shows the same view down Anglesea St. as the adjoining one taken in 2004. The 1949 flood was probably worse than 2004. What about global warming?

I hope that when the works are completed, the town will not be remembered for its flooding, but for it’s great commercial nature and beautiful natural surroundings.

Thanks to Bill Flynn for some of the great pictures above.


  1. Some great pics there Pat . Coincidently I'm just back from a meeting in Thurles where , when I said that I was from Clonmel the first question I was asked was ' Does the flooding affect you much ?'

  2. Thanks Barry, I have to thank Bill Flynn for most of the pics. I did not have the camera to hand in 2004 to capture the worst of the flooding, not to mention 1949! But then, I don't think Bill was there either?

  3. There's a simple but effective system available for preventing flood damage of the type we're now seeing in Clonmel.The system is based on standard pallets, a metal support and a waterproof sheeting. It is designed and produced in Sweden but has been employed in several countries throughout the world.
    Here's a link to the website.
    Send me an e-mail if you'd like to know more.

  4. That looks like a very simple solution John. It would have a lot less visual impact than the solution being undertaken at the moment. Thanks for the link.

  5. Steve
    Hi.I'm from hungary originaly.I live in clonmel since 4 years and i really impressed about human lazyness and stupidity!!!Unreal i think.We have 2 big rivers in hungary and they come out nearly every year.The difference is since the early 1800 the goverment made plan to control the rivers and built and manintain a water barrier system.we still have flood but we don't have a natural aquapark in the middle of the town because the council building a big concrete wall in the wrong side and the wrong place spendig millions of euros for nothing!!!And of course apart from a FEW sandbags nobody do anything!?!?The army guys still drinking their tea in the camp!!?(when we have a flood the whole army and civil defence and everybody there to fill sandbags and make an EXCISTING barriers stronger.No offence but a bit dissapointing!!