An image of Barry O'Mahony, standing on Shannonvale Bridge, holding up a pint glass filled with sewage-contaminated water, gathered from the surface of Shannonvale Park. In the background is the River Argideen, and a section of its North bank is visible.

It has been known, since at least as far back as 1998, to Cork County Council, and their successor organisations responsible for Water Services, Irish Water, and Uisce Éireann, that untreated sewage has been escaping from a failed sewage treatment system into a public park in the village of Shannonvale, Clonakilty, County Cork. This area, which serves as the village’s sole public recreation space, is situated on the north bank of the River Argideen, upstream from the point where Uisce Éireann extracts drinking water for the Clonakilty public water supply. Despite the evident threats to public health, this issue has persisted for over 25 years, since it was first reported to Cork County Council.

I grew up in Shannonvale, and spent my summers playing soccer on that park, and swimming in the adjacent river. I remember my father, as a representative of the local community association, being interviewed by newspapers and local radio stations back in 1997 and 1998 when the association first raised the issue with Cork County Council – hoping to have the situation address ahead of the 1798 Bicentenary Festival being held in the village. A photographer from The Examiner photographed my father, standing on the bridge, holding a pint glass of raw sewage collected from the surface of the park. In 2020 – over 20 years later – I was able to replicate that photo, as the problem remains unresolved and has, in fact, gotten worse.

A video explaining the sewage situation in Shannonvale.

Since then, I have been campaigning constantly to hold Irish Water/Uisce Éireann to account for this disgusting situation. I have been communicated with officials at all levels of government, publicised the matter in local and national media, and convinced Irish Water to bring engineers on-site to assess the situation and issue a report outlining the works required to remedy the problem. Thanks to the community in Shannonvale, I have been joined in my efforts by a local committee, determined to finally bring this scandal to an end.

Further information on Shannonvale’s sewage flood

I take this matter very personally – I believe that the current situation, and the fact that it has persisted for so long, is an insult to me, my family, my friends, and everyone else that has grown up or lived in Shannonvale. I will continue to fight for Shannonvale and Clonakilty on this matter; this is too big of an issue to back down on.


Other media:

Cork Beo:

Barry speaking about the Shannonvale Sewage Flood on C103’s Cork Today (from 22 minutes)