Residents of Ballymahon and surrounding areas have expressed concern about the number of people gathering at Newcastle Woods following a post on Twitter by @BallymahonDaily highlighting the number of cars parked at the facility.
Carpark at Newcastle Forest is almost full and more cars parked out on the road. So much for Social Distancing and for the enforcing of the 2km travel ban!! #lockdown2020 @Longford_Leader @BallymahonTT pic.twitter.com/k8NhcWhd7r— Ballymahon Daily (@BallymahonDaily) April 21, 2020
The tweet shows a photo of a full carpark at the River Inny entrance to the forest and expresses concern that there was also a large number of cars parked along the road near the entrance.
"So much for social distancing and for the enforcing of the 2km travel ban," the tweet read.
The tweet received some responses, with local musician Katie Gallagher pointing out that she has seen a number of groups in the woods, fishing and drinking.
Can I just throw out there that the last few times I’ve been there in the evening the amount of men (only saying men because I didn’t see any females!) drinking and fishing in big groups is disgusting also! I know the guards patrol often but it’s inside the forest they ...— KTG ♎️ (@ktg_music) April 22, 2020
"I know the guards patrol often, but it's inside the forest they need to go," she said.
Local journalist, Denise Canavan, however, noted that there are a large number of people living within a 2km radius of the forest.
I've been there on a day where there were 10 cars parked. We met one party of two people out walking while we were there♀️ it's a pretty big forest. And you'd be surprised the amount of people living within 2k - not saying they all are, but many would be.— Denise Canavan (@denisecanavan) April 22, 2020
"It's a pretty big forest," she said, noting that, while the carpark might be full, people are dispersed and adhering to social distancing.
Her tweet was backed up by Roscommon/Galway's Senator Eugene Murphy who said that similar scenes can be observed at Sliabh Bán, where many people are out walking but observing social distancing.
I agree with you Denise.The very same us happening on Sliabh Ban.— Senator Eugene Murphy (@SenatorEMurphy) April 22, 2020
Many people walking but honestly
all i have met and seen are inside 2k.Everyone also restricting safe distance.Most people are doing right thing they are not stupid or selfish.
Everyone practising safe distance it should read.— Senator Eugene Murphy (@SenatorEMurphy) April 22, 2020
Ms Canavan also made the point that the woods are far safer for families with small children than the roads near residential properties.
The other thing is, it's easier to let kiddies toddle or scoot around on the safe forest paths than on narrow country roads where tractors etc are up and down ♀️ so I can understand why people are going there as long as theyre keeping to the rules— Denise Canavan (@denisecanavan) April 22, 2020