Tramore hopes to develop its coastal attractions, with less of the hurdy-gurdy
Electoral changes are causing concern over a weakening of the town’s political influence
Sunrise over Waterford estuary and the meeting of the Three Sister, the Barrow, Nore and Suir. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
“There are three towns in Tramore, ” says John Culbert, former chairman of the town’s Chamber of Commerce. “The tourist area, the new housing estates between here and Waterford that were built over the last 10 years and, in the middle of all that, a small little old town trying to make a living.”
Culbert says the fact that the town’s two post-primary schools are due to merge will help create a definite sense of community among those growing up in the town. “It’s a huge uniting factor.”
He has reservations about the pending administrative merger. “It could be a bit of a mixed bag. We are losing our town council, so the town will no longer have a mayor or elected local representatives. Because of the new electoral areas, there is no guarantee that Tramore will have representation at council level. At present, we have nine town councillors, including the mayor. In the county, the Tramore area returned seven members out of 23. The fact is, all politics are local, and if you’re not at the Cabinet table, you don’t have a voice. The person who shouts loudest is the one who gets the attention.”
The number of councillors Tramore will have after the town council is phased out is of concern to Joe Conway. He is a former mayor of the town, and a current town and county councillor, and he’s in agreement with Culbert’s views.
“I’d be a great believer that the closer you are to the people, the more relevant it is. For a lot of people, it’s all about the pothole outside their door. They’re not interested in looking at the macro picture of the economy of the southeast. The new electoral council area will be so big that Tramore will be lucky to return three out of the 32 council members. We had seven, and seven out of 23 was a much healthier batting average than three out of 32.”
However, he’s optimistic that the new council will give “new impetus” to the town. The former council offices were in Dungarvan, a town Conway thinks was geographically too far away to benefit Tramore.
“A lot of people would feel that Tramore interests would sit more naturally in Waterford than in Dungarvan. People here are more connected to Waterford, whether by work or through their families.”
He’s anxious to point out that no plans have yet been announced for the existing purpose-built civic offices in the town. “They are only 10 years old, state of the art, energy efficient buildings, and there is a lot of concern in the town about what is going to happen them.
As to why the town has grown so much in recent years, he says: “It’s always been seen as a desirable place to live, beside the sea. I’ve always seen Waterford and us as Brighton and Hove. It’s the complete package; culture in Waterford, and leisure in Tramore.”
He hopes tourism will be developed in the town. “We need to develop the tourist offering away from the day-tripper experience; to get away from dependence on hurdy-gurdys. We need to think about coastal cliff walks, and eco tourism.”