A WORLD class martial arts guru has warned that there is a dangerous death row on the periphery of our city.
Grand Master Tom Foley, originally from Parliament Street has spent the greater part of his life teaching martial arts that enhances and improves the lives of men and woman of all ages.
Today, through Kilkenny Press, he warns that there is a road and bridge area on the way to Kilcreene Orthopaedic Hospital that could cause serious injuries or cost young and elderly their lives.
“I should know,” Tom, a son of late Kilkenny publicans Norah and Tom Foley of the former Hibernian Bar in Kilkenny City said.
“I have been that soldier.
“A miracle, quick thinking and action that I learned in martial arts saved my life as a high speed truck almost sent me to St Kieran’s Cemetery.
“It was a nightmare experience because of the treacherous conditions on the stretch, a dodgy footpath and a bridge that is fit for horses and carts but not for juggernauts.
“That death trap is there to end lives any day of the week, despite warning after warning to those responsible for our infrastructure.
‘I TAKE MY LIFE IN MY HANDS’
“My warnings were never heeded or certainly not acted on, warnings I have given to several of our local politicians.”
Tom is talking in particular about the pathway on the right hand side from Kennyswell to the lights at the old bridge heading to Kilcreene Hospital.
“For years, I have been an outpatient in Kilcreene Hospital, an excellent facility, in advance of knee replacement surgery.
“My walk is very slow and on this stretch of road and pathway I take my life in my hands as I head to hospital appointments.
“I am now living in Freshford. I get a bus into the city, get off in the Butts area and walk to the hospital. My leg was in a bad condition and I could not walk on the pathway because it is in such a bad condition.
“As a retired building contractor and surveyor I can tell Kilkenny Press readers that this stretch of pathway has not been attended to for at least 40 years.
“I estimated that if you were to place a level on the highest point of the path at an adjoining wall and level out to the herbing that is now level with the roadway, there is a drop of about 8 inches or 200mm at the worst point.
THE MOST DANGEROUS SPOT
“This is the most dangerous spot but it ranges down to 4 inches or 100mm along the whole stretch of pathway.
“For anyone with any form of disability, a woman or man pushing a buggy or elderly people, this pathway is a potential killer.
“Edging along beside the local bridge is a daring challenge. There is no footpath, good, bad or indifferent, and it is you, you and your baby or whoever versus traffic going in opposite directions.
“Regarding providing a footpath at the old bridge I would ask why Kilkenny County Council cannot CPO (Compulsory Purchase Order) a metre of land on the other side of the bridge and build a temporary walkway and temporary bridge.
“Give the job to a private contractor and it could be completed in a few weeks for very little cost, and, I am speaking as a registered contractor.
“I have pointed out this crazy safety, or rather lack of, situation to public representatives. Absolutely no action was ever taken and to be honest most took little or no interest in ringing alarm bells.
“If it is raining you certainly cannot use this area on the way to Kilcreene as you will be walking in mini swimming pools.
“When we are lucky to get past the first part of the jungle that is this main rural road, and an important link, we come across this small bridge built in Victorian times.
“For a long stretch of road at this frail bridge, there is no footpath of any kind and for children, seniors or people like myself, now hobbling with a new knee, it is the most dangerous place on Planet Earth.”
Tom recalled his brush with death.
“On one occasion I was as far as the middle of the bridge when an artic in a hurry was bombing towards me.
PLAYING RUSSIAN ROULETTE
“I hurriedly got my backside onto the wall, dragged my legs up and hung on for dear life.
“The wind vortex from the artic truck did its best to send me crashing over the bridge.
“That was not my only such incident. It is like hopscotch in a minefield. You are playing Russian Roulette with your own life.
“I have reported to relevant people but to no avail. I was wasting my breath.
“It will be too late to take action if, God forbid, someone is lying dead on what could aptly be described as the road to Hell.
“I have walked that way many times and somehow got away with it. My appeal to Kilkenny Press readers is to voice their disgust, to call for urgent work on one of Kilkenny’s most dangerous stretches but for God’s sake don’t leave it on the long finger.
“Any delay, hours even, certainly days, weeks or worse could lead to families losing loved ones.
“What a tragedy that would be.
“All because nobody is prepared to listen.”