It’s one of the most picturesque and filmed villages in Ireland, attracting hundreds of visitors each day during the summer – but recently some have been rushed to leave due to the bad smell.
Local business owners in the village of Leenane in County Galway – made famous by Richard Harris’ film The Field – claim an overloaded sewage plant is responsible for the noxious smells that caused tourist buses to leave quickly the famous beauty site.
Breda Gaynor, owner of Gaynor’s, The Field Bar, revealed how a busload of tourists arrived in the village last weekend intending to spend the evening there, but left after a drink because of the ‘odour.
‘To be honest I don’t blame them, it’s something we’ve reported many times over the summers,’ she told the Irish Mail on Sunday.
“The stage factory here was built to cater for a capacity of 550. This multiplies during the summer when we could literally have thousands of visitors in one day.”
Another resident of the village at the end of Ireland’s only fjord, Killary Harbour, admitted she had to keep her windows closed on some summer days because of the stench.
“It depends which way the wind is blowing,” said Patricia O’Brien. “But the smell is significantly worse in the summer. I saw people getting out of their cars and going straight back to them.
After the issue was highlighted on local radio and by this newspaper, Irish Water confirmed over the weekend that the state utility company had engaged with the local community regarding the reports of odor problems at the Leenane sewage treatment plant.
A spokesperson said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had also been asked to look into the matter.
‘Galway County Council have completed work at the pumping station,’ he told the MoS.
“Following the engagement with the EPA, on 1 September Irish Water and Galway County Council met with the EPA on site to undertake an audit of the plant.
“In the meantime, repair work is underway at the sewage treatment plant and a specialist contractor will also be on site in the coming days to carry out further work.
“We understand that this is of great concern to people in the area and we are working as a priority to resolve any potential odor issues arising from the sewage treatment plant or the network.”
It’s the latest rap on the fingers for the water authority after dozens of popular tourist and fishing spots were named and shamed for having ‘mismanaged’ stadium treatment plants, by the EPA in its latest report published at the end of last year.
He discovered that there are 33 towns and villages in Ireland where raw sewage is released into the environment every day because it is not connected to sewage treatment plants. The agency also estimates that a third of these areas will not receive treatment until 2024.
The most polluted bathing waters are found in Clifden, Co. Galway, Balbriggan and Malahide in County Dublin and Dunmore East in County Waterford.
Two of Galway’s beaches, Spiddal and Clifden, are labeled as ‘persistent offenders’.
In its analysis of municipal sewage treatment last year, the EPA criticized Irish Water’s “unacceptable delays” and said the pace at which essential sewage treatment improvements are being made is too slow.