Concerns over this “blackspot” bend on the R188 at the townland of Rathkenny.

Most dangerous bend in Cavan?

solution Council point to East-West link as potential fix

A long bend on the road between Cavan and Cootehill, the scene of more than a dozen serious crashes in three years, including two so far in 2021, has been described as “the most dangerous” in Ireland.

Local Fine Gael councillor Carmel Brady made the damning assessment about the “blackspot” on the R188 at the townland of Rathkenny at the Bailieborough-Cootehill Municipal District meeting.

Having spoken personally with several of the accident victims, Cllr Brady raised concerns about the safety of the winding stretch of road and demanded that the local authority effect a solution before a tragedy occurs.

“This particular ‘crash site’ has seen 16 accidents or incidents at this bend just after the Rathkenny village on the main Cavan to Cootehill road since 2015,” claimed Cllr Brady, speaking at the virtually held meeting last Monday, May 17.

But she said it is “not a new issue” and dated back over 15 years, when a local man driving to work at the Univet Factory in Tullyvin died when his car hit an ESB pole and rolled down a six-foot drop into the field.

Most of the crashes, contends Cllr Brady, are single-vehicle accidents in which the driver seems to “lose control” before leaving the roadway at this “deceiving” bend.

Cllr Brady revealed that, as part of her investigations, she had spoken with ESB Networks, which confirmed the organisation had replaced the pole at the location six times in the past eight years. “If you look at it at the moment, it has been hit recently and it’s only half the width at the bottom.”

Gardaí have recorded six crashes on their own Pulse database for the area from 2018 to date but Cllr Brady said not all single vehicle accidents are recorded. “Even the fatality in 2006 is not recorded on the data base,” she claimed.

Cllr Brady informed the members that the first of this year’s crashes involved a Lithuanian gentleman and his passenger, both of whom were seriously injured.

The most recent crash recorded at Rathkenny occurred earlier this month, on May 7, when a woman from Monaghan crashed with two children in her car - the vehicle ending up in the field with the car landing on its side.

But Cllr Brady noted, having spoken with the local landowner on the day of the meeting, another car was pulled from the ditch only last weekend. “He had to pull out a gentleman last night (Sunday) at 10.30pm, the car did not go completely across the hedge and the landowner was able to pull him out with his digger.”

Cllr Brady said that landowners have voiced their concerns with the council and carried out “necessary works” including trimming back branches.

“This has not helped the growing problem,” says Cllr Brady who requested that the local authority erect a flashing digital sign to be placed before the bend to draw motorists’ attention to the “dangerous black spot” ahead.

“This is a seriously dangerous bend and is very deceiving because of the length of the curvature on it. This is probably one of the most dangerous bends in the county and I am asking for something to be done with it before there is another fatality. What price can you put on a life?,” she asked.

Cllr Brady’s motion was unanimously supported by her fellow MD members, some of also spoke of personal knowledge of crashes occurring at the same location.

Senior Area Engineer Alan Lyons said the area was “well known” to them, and stated that there was ample signage on approach to the site to warn drivers to slow down. He said there is a danger of councils “over providing” information to motorists and that, in itself, can be distracting.

He noted that the issue was not just a single bend at the location, but the fact it formed part of a cluster.

Mr Lyons committed to refer the signage issue to the council’s road design team, but stated that the route forms part of the proposed East-West link. Some €130,000 has been allocated for further preparatory work to design a corridor between Dundalk and Sligo.

He said he was “sure” the bends in the road at Rathkenny formed part of that risk-based analysis assessment.

Cllr Brady responded by saying it “could be a long time waiting” before the East-West delivers a solution, stating that something “must be done sooner” rather than later.

“It’s a really, really dangerous situation,” she concluded.

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