Tourists would not be able to tell difference between rural Ireland and rural England, Dáil told

TD calls for return to traditional road signs to keep ‘bit of character’ left in rural areas

Referring to tourist sites including  the Waterford greenway (above), Deputy Matt Shanahan said he’d  like to see signage and waypoints standardised. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien /The Irish Times

Referring to tourist sites including the Waterford greenway (above), Deputy Matt Shanahan said he’d like to see signage and waypoints standardised. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien /The Irish Times

 

Ireland is losing part of its tourism charm and a visitor would not be able to tell the difference between rural parts of the country and rural England, the Dáil has been warned

Independent TD Matt Shanahan called for a return to more traditional road and pathway signage and for the design to be standardised across the State to retain its old-style charm.

During Community and Rural Affairs questions, the Waterford TD suggested a funding initiative that would “emphasise the idea of using a more rural and more traditional type of signage” which would “keep the little bit of character we have left in our rural areas”.

Mr Shanahan said “we could drive through parts of England and parts of rural Ireland at the moment and we would not see much difference, which is a shame.

“We are losing part of our tourism charm and potential but I think we can arrest that with clever initiatives.”

Referring to tourist sites in his own constituency he cited the Blackwater Valley, the Waterford greenway, and a new Celtic corridor being developed there.

“I would like to see the signage and waypoints standardised so that when people are in the area, they can see that as being reflective of the journey, the charm and the culture of where they are.”

He called for Government to advocate more traditional road signs and said it would be a progressive initiative if community development and town renewal schemes funded and emphasised traditional rural road signage.

Minister of State Joe O’Brien acknowledged the “eyesores, over-signage, unnecessary and old signs that do not really tell us anything anymore”.

Mr O’Brien said that “if people are driving through rural Ireland, they will pass so many places that are of value and interest” but don’t know it.

The Department of Transport and Tourism had responsibility in this area and the Minister said Mr Shanahan might “get more joy” out of the roads section of local authorities where groups apply for signage in their areas.

Councils ensure that signage is in keeping with the department’s traffic signals manual which details what traffic signs can be used including their layout, symbols and position.

But the Minister promised to “contact my colleague who looks after the heritage side and I would encourage the Deputy to contact the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport”.