GRAIGUECULLEN could become the Budapest of Ireland, according to a county councillor.
The unlikely parallel between the Barrowside town and the capital of Hungary was drawn by cllr Aisling Moran during the latest skirmish in the boundary battle between Laois and Carlow.
The opening shot was fired by cllr Ben Brennan, a veteran of the long-running border war, at the latest Graiguecullen/Portarlington Municipal District meeting.
Cllr Brennan got unanimous support for his demand that Laois County Council erect two large signs declaring ‘Welcome to Laois’ on the two bridges that cross the River Barrow in Graiguecullen.
Cllr Brennan said: “We want big signs when you enter Laois. We want them to be seen. When you come from the other direction, you see a big sign saying ‘Welcome to Carlow’ and another one says ‘Carlow – A Great Place to Shop’. I want the same for Laois on the other side.”
He was supported by cllr Moran, who stressed that more development was needed in Graiguecullen. She suggested that the town on the Barrow could model itself on Budapest, which famously consists of two cities – Buda and Pest – on either side of the River Danube. Cllr Moran commented: “We need to develop each side of Graiguecullen along the lines of Buda and Pest, with their own distinctive characters.”
Cllr Pádraig Fleming pointed out that there is a “massive” sign stating ‘Welcome to Laois’ near the hotel. But cllr Brennan shot back: “That’s a brown sign. We want one in blue and white, the Laois colours. Carlow has the brown signs.”
Cllr Aidan Mullins remarked that the county council was trying to promote Laois and attract visitors, yet many motorists were not even aware that they were in the county due to lack of signs. He said: “We’re trying to bring people in, but when they drive in, they don’t even know they’re in Laois.”
Supporting cllr Brennan’s proposal, cllr Mullins said large ‘Welcome to Laois’ signs should be erected at all entry points to the county with a high volume of traffic, including his own town of Portarlington, which straddles the Laois/Offaly border.
Senior engineer Philip McVeigh said the county council would install the signs on both bridges in Graiguecullen. He agreed to meet cllr Brennan on site to decide on the exact design and locations for the new signs. After that, the desired blue and white ‘Welcome to Laois’ signs will be procured and installed on both bridges.