Clonlara case study: ‘Who the hell gave planning down here, day one?’

Living nightmare for Clare family in elevated home surrounded by floodwater for mile

Drone footage captures the extent of flooding in Clonlara, Co Clare. Video: Alan O'Reilly/Carlow Weather

A couple whose home is marooned by a mile radius of deep floodwater said they would not evacuate to temporary accommodation as it would prove too overwhelming for their youngest son who has “complex needs”.

The inside of Shirley and David Mulcahy’s home in Clonlara, Co Clare, is not under threat of being flooded, as it is situated on a steep incline, however, it is completely cut off from dry land, surrounded by deep floodwater for a mile.

In 2016, when the area was last hit by flooding, they and their two sons were evacuated to a hotel, but the experience was overwhelming for their youngest child Alex (14), who was diagnosed with a severe form of autism.

Like their neighbours, they have pleaded with Clare County Council for a permanent flood defence or to buy them out as they have suffered years of flooding.


They were informed they do not qualify for the Office of Public Works’s €2 million voluntary home relocation scheme, set up to help those in flooded communities.

‘Dirty filthy water’

Wading through the floodwater in her front driveway, Shirley Mulcahy said: “We have substantial water flowing into the property, it’s rising constantly. We were told we didn’t qualify for home relocation because, apparently, we are not flooded.

“I’m not sure I understand . . . This is clearly flooding,” she said.

“It’s dirty filthy water, it’s washing up destroying our property and interfering with our lives. It’s just a nightmare.”

Their nearest neighbours have been evacuated to a hotel, but the Mulcahys said this was not an option for them as it would upset their youngest son too much.

“Routine, familiarity, sameness, predictability is all very important for him. He has high anxiety, and he does not do well if he has to move into a strange environment, like a hotel,” she explained.

She praised Clare Civil Defence and Clare County Council for doing their best to stave off the floodwaters from homes and for providing transport in and out of the underwater community.

‘Worthless’ property

“We are on a moat, on an island a mile around, and we just don’t know day to day what’s coming,” she added.

“My property is worthless, it’s a beautiful home and our live savings went into it. It’s our legacy to our two boys. There used to be a comfort knowing, when we passed on, that this will be there for the boys, but it’s worthless, and that’s a worry.

“The big question is who the hell gave planning down here, day one.”

Clare County Council have been asked for a response.

Another Clonlara resident, Geraldine Quinlivan, said people in the area were “living in fear”.

While the family had a boat on standby ready to evacuate, Geraldine said they would only leave as a last resort. “I’m from here originally, I don’t want to give up my home . . . particularly as there is a flood-protection measure identified for Springfield.”