Homemade flood defences only option for Enniscorthy business

Delay of long-promised relief scheme leaves locals reliant on sandbags and ‘moats’

Bobby-Leigh Swaine standing on the flooded street in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. A flood-relief scheme has been promised for nearly a decade but no progress has been made to date

Conor Swaine, who runs two businesses on the quays in Enniscorthy, managed to keep the waters at bay by putting his own homemade flood defences into action on Christmas Day.

“We managed to get the dinner done, but skipped the dessert and got down here around 4pm and stayed until about 11pm and we managed to keep the water out, before it started to drop back, then it started to rise again today . He now owns the neighbouring B Twenty7 coffee shop which he opened in May of 2020 and Fyre Pizzas, which just started operating this month.

‘Moat of sandbags’

“When you’re here on the quays, you’re affected so regularly that you live and learn. We have barriers on each of the doors, but you don’t want the water lying against the doors, so we build a sort of moat of sandbags around that and then we keep pumping the water out.”

Neither he or his parents can get flood insurance for their businesses, he said.


“I’ve lost count of the number of times my parents were flooded. Every couple of years it would visit the door, but the most frustrating thing is the lack of insurance. We can’t get any flood cover.”

A flood-relief scheme has been long promised for Enniscorthy, but Mr Swaine said experienced businesses know they need to take action themselves.

“You’ll hear a lot of talk over the next week about flood barriers for Enniscorthy, but essentially we just have to put our own homemade flood defences in place.”

Mr Swaine also has a branch of B Twenty7 in Bunclody, and while the flood waters didn’t reach the door, the flooding of surrounding roads meant no one could access the cafe.

“We were lucky enough, all it did was disrupt the family Christmas, and then we lost a day’s business on Stephen’s Day. It’s the people whose homes are flooded I feel most sorry for and the pubs that really need the business.”

No progress

The Enniscorthy flood-relief scheme has been promised for nearly a decade and yet no progress has been made.

Wexford County Council chief executive Tom Enright recently released a report that states that the project is still awaiting “statutory confirmation” from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

This has been a source of huge frustration for the residents and representatives of Enniscorthy who were expecting an update on the project this month.

Speaking to South East Radio, local independent councillor Jackser Owens demanded action from Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath.

“We’ll have to call an emergency meeting and go and see this Minister to see what is the hold up that is stopping him from signing in the scheme,” he said.

“It’s just ridiculous, here we are again looking at businesses on the quay damaged by this and it’s a national disgrace.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times