Longford Leader Columnist Mattie Fox: Longford needs traffic plan to cater for all customers

Mattie Fox

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Mattie Fox

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St Mel's Cathedral

St Mel's Cathedral in Longford town

Longford town is blessed with a Cathedral - which cost €40 million in times of austerity (sound familiar?) - that can definitely boast the highly advantageous boost of giving the town something rare to visit and admire.

Without a doubt, the Cathedral is a wondrous piece of architecture, and has several notable design gems within its walls.

One could easily spend a few hours studying the thoughtful beauty of the surroundings, and examining the detail of the work.

In fairness, it is a marvellous example of modern day architecture.
Everything about it, smacks of vision, and exacting precision.
No mediocrity.

Indeed it stands up to repeated visits, revealingly.
The Cathedral is Longford’s Notre Dame.

Notre Dame has thirteen million visitors and pilgrims every year.
That’s an average of 30,000 per day, rising to 50,000 who visit the Cathedral on peak days. Breathtaking, isn’t it?

Now of course Notre Dame is in Paris, not Longford.

And Notre Dame’s Cathedral is a truly astonishing sight to savour and behold.

The numbers visiting are staggering, even allowing for the millions who visit Paris every year.

In Longford however, we have a steady trickle, sometimes a bus every day. Yet, all of them make the same observation.
There’s nowhere suitable to park.

Now, of course our doughty county council will point to the two car parks right beside the Cathedral. Unfortunately none of the county council officials have ever been in the driver’s seat of a bus.

If they have, then I’m glad they got a more suitable job.
Let’s take an average bus length of forty foot. Many are far longer.
Stand in the car park, opposite the Cathedral and try to imagine driving a bus in there?

Well of course no problem at all coming in. The problem arises getting out. The park is full of cars.

Perhaps the bus can reverse out?
What would the council say about that?

Maybe they can employ a special heavy duty helicopter to airlift the bus out onto the main road, and then wait - disrupting all traffic for 20 minutes or so - while those on sticks, walking aids, or crutches make their way into the bus.

Or of course they could park at the hospital out the Dublin Road.
Or at Pearse Park maybe.

They’d need taxis to get back, however.
With passengers' ages ranging from say, 40 to 70...... many waiting for operations, and sometimes even more aged than that, I somehow doubt it would be very suitable for touring buses.

Neither car park adjacent to the Cathedral is accessible.

Could the council ever manage to understand that?

The simple bottom line is, there is nowhere to park a tour bus in Longford town, legitimately.

At the Longford Arms, I once noticed bemusedly Leo Varadkar’s driver parking on a double yellow line outside the hotel, while the now Taoiseach was doing his business inside.

Is this the only hotel that doesn’t have a parking bay?

What happened to the parking bay that already existed?
What are buses to do? Park illegally?

Are wardens instructed to ignore buses parking around the Longford Arms?
What is wrong with Longford?

Why cannot we, just the same as every other town, organise our traffic to cater for all customers? That’s the key word.
Customers.

Doesn’t the council realise that buses bring business to the town, and make it a more bustling, busy, community?

It’s beginning to look like the council doesn’t really care about where the public park.

There’s no point in citing the car parks beside the Cathedral, that’s the sound of someone who simply doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Nobody could risk driving into the car park, not when it’s already choc a block with cars.

Ah yes. Cars.

Those who increase the councils take week by week, by paying exorbitant parking, and fines, while buses are more and more reluctant to enter Longford town.

It is indeed a funny old world.

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