Monday, 19 June 2006
To the Irish Transport Authorities,
Dear Sirs and Madams,
It has been over two and a half years (Letter of 3rd December 2003) since my last instalment pleading with those that I hope are in a position to do something about the state of Irish signposting, to actually do something about it and unfortunately I regret to say that in those intervening years, on the basis on my experience of driving around Ireland, very little has changed.
The most recent official reply to any of my previous communications consisted of a reply from Junior Minister Pat “Cope” Gallagher dated 7th April 2003 (over 3 years ago) where he sought to justify the initial expenditure of €5.1m on regional road signposting in 5 counties in what I was led to believe was the commencement of a greater project which was ultimately intended to extend to and eventually cover the whole country over 5 years whereby the signposting on our regional roads at least (if not our National Primary routes) would be flawless.
An internet search for any hint of the continuation of this project beyond the initial 5 counties merely yields a press release from Minister Cullen as Minister for Environment on 26th January 2004 where any further development of regional road signposting is encompassed within an overall regional road budget of €477m with “Grants totalling €5 million are being provided for the continuation of the regional road signposting programme which commenced in 2003”. No indication is made within the press release as to what additional counties are to benefit from these additional funds not anywhere is any review indicated of the progress of the project to date or as to what was actually achieved within the initial 5 counties of Donegal, Sligo, Kerry, Galway and Wexford.
My latest frustration however, and what compels me to write my present instalment, is various experiences with signposting in counties Leitrim and Sligo (Which I understood was to benefit greatly from the 2003 investment!) comes over the past month. By way of just one illustrative example most recently I had occasion to travel the road from Kinlough to Manorhamilton in County Leitrim at the weekend. My original intention had been to travel from Kinlough to Rossinver in Co Leitrim but I missed the turnoff for Rossinver in the middle of Kinlough, which was only denoted by a small tourist information sign for The Organic Centre in Rossinver (Not for the village itself) and instead, using the credible and respected Michelin map of Ireland I took an equally unsignposted left turn at the end of Kinlough village as indicated on the Michelin map onto a road I mistakenly hoped would take me to Rossinver. Eventually this road brought me to a totally unsignposted junction back on the main Kinlough Manorhamilton road some 3 miles further outside of Kinlough. Driving blind (signposting wise at least) at this stage and unsure exactly what road I was actually on, I followed the road for some 8km. Unbelievable as it might seem all along that 8km stretch I found absolutely no indication as to what road I was on, either the R280 to Manorhamilton or the R281 to Garrison. The only way I knew I was still in Co Leitrim and hadn’t passed into Northern Ireland (not withstanding the fact that there would then be signposts!) was the presence of a couple of roadwork’s signs along the way with “LCC” spray painted on the backs of them, but possibly the most farcical part of all this was that I actually did come across two huge signs along this road proclaiming that the stretch of road was being upgraded and improved under the National Development Plan 2002-2007.
This is just one example of the continuing farcical nature of signposting in Ireland where one continually comes to even major road junctions with absolutely no signposting on them, or alternatively one follows a series of signposts which eventually peter out and leave one lost in the middle of nowhere or where one comes across signposts for the local townland but none for the nearest main town or village or where one can follow a road for kilometres at a time with absolutely no confirmation signposting of what directions this actual road is talking you or signposts which have been blown or purposely moved by some devious souls to point in the wrong direction. More than once of late I’ve been reminded of the famous joke where the American tourist stops to ask an Irish local for directions and the reply they received is “Well to tell you the truth if I was going there I wouldn’t start from here anyway!”. May be a funny joke often very close to actual reality.
In this governments program for Government set out in June of 2002 one of the clearly stated aims of the Government was to tackle the chaotic nature of signposting on Irish roads. In hope at the time I wrote to the then Minister for Transport Seamus Brennan suggesting that one of the major achievements of his office would be to actually make a success of this target during his period in the office. Of course another of the farcical aspects as well as an indication of the root causes of the actual problems is that it is not actually the transport minister that has ultimate responsibility for signposting but rather the Environment Minister and Junior Minister just as whilst the NRA appears to have certain advisory capacity with regard to signposting the ultimate responsibility for actual signposting lies with individual local authorities who all may be singing off varying hymn sheets depending on their perceived priorities and other such farcical factors as their regard for their neighbouring authority, their perception of their own geographic importance, their, most often misconceived, idea of what the stranger to their county are or needs to know with regard to signposting. In this particular context I’m reminded of the response of a member of Cork’s Local Authority to criticism of new somewhat confusing signposting erected there a year or two ago. The member’s response was something to the effect that the signposting was perfectly logical and understandable once one got used to it. Is the ridiculous nature of this statement not obvious in that most people who have a need to follow such signposts are one off visitors passing through who have no desire to hang around to “get used” to the signs and those locals who may have the opportunity to get used to the signs probably have no need for them anyway.
Finally, as usual, I should also point out that I shall be posting this correspondence and your reply, if any is received, on my website irishsignposting.com.
Again I await your reply
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