FURIOUS residents of the seaside resort of ‘Lehinch’ in Co. Clare are on the verge of putting the ‘a’ back in their town’s name in a move, which could cost at least €10,000.
The area has been known locally as ‘Lahinch’ since the 1850s, but the name was changed to ‘Lehinch’ on official road signs in 2011.
The change arose due to the town appearing as ‘Lehinch’ on the Placenames Database of Ireland and on Ordnance Survey Maps.
The alteration left many locals up in arms, with one incensed resident taking matters into his own hands by covering up the ‘e’ with an ‘a’ on road signs around the village.
“The fella went from the south of the town all the way to the north putting ‘a’ stickers over the ‘e’s,” one local called Paddy told The Irish Post.
“Apparently it took 164 of these stickers to cover all of them. I don’t know where he got them from.”
Lahinch isn’t alone – also in 2011, nearby Ballyvaughan lost its ‘u’, Ennistymon became ‘Ennistimon’ and Miltown Malbay got an extra ‘l’.
The changes – which were made without local consultation – have confused visitors to the area and disgruntled local residents.
Lehinch sounds cheap. Lahinch sounds exotic.
— Conanism (@conanism) June 6, 2017
— VOX Magazine (@vox_ie) May 6, 2017
Does anyone know why all the signs in west Clare have been manually amended from "Lehinch" to "Lahinch"? Was there a war?
— Greg Ó Ceallaigh (@gregoceallaigh) July 14, 2016
“There was a rumour going round at first that it was the fault of Google Maps, but we know now that it was an error made by the council,” Paddy added.
“The signs have annoyed locals from the day they were altered without consideration for the businesses and it has caused nothing but confusion.”
Now, following a decision by Clare County Council, councillors are looking to set aside funds in 2018 for a local plebiscite in Lahinch on the issue.
Michael Vaughan, the owner of Vaughan’s Lodge Hotel, said the cost of changing the town’s name would be at least €10,000.
"It makes a huge difference now, especially with the age we're in which relies so much on GPS and other means to get to a place," Mr Vaughan said.
“There should be consultation because you are talking about people’s sense of place and that is something that goes to the heart of the Irish psyche”.
A spokesman for Clare County Council told The Irish Post that it is not possible yet to provide an approximate cost on the proposed name change for Lahinch.
He said that costs will be considered following the passing of a council resolution on the issue.