A MARRIED couple and their seven young children remain homeless and living in fear at the edge of the North West Clare shoreline this week, as a three-month search for accommodation remains fruitless.
In a last ditch effort to find a safe place to stay for herself and her family, Caroline Sherlock met with Clare County Council yesterday (Monday) hoping that the local authority may be able to help.
The family who have raised their children in the Ennistymon area and lived in private accommodation there, believe they have difficulty finding somewhere to live since their old lease expired, simply because they are members of the Travelling community.
Ms Sherlock, her husband John and their children, the youngest just two years old, have been living in a caravan on the sides of the roads in North Clare since June. They are without electricity and running water and the children are cramped into the caravan at night to sleep.
Ms Sherlock told The Clare People there is a number of private houses available for rent but they are repeatedly refused. The young family have received support and references from their previous landlord and the children’s schoolteachers, but still it is impossible to find a house in the place their children call home.
The family had been living in Traveller accommodation on the Deerpark Road in Ennistymon but, as families on the site grew, overcrowding became an issue and Caroline and John decided to move their family for health and safety reasons in 2009.
Eventually moving out of the accommodation, they spent a number of months on the road, they eventually found a private house for rent just before last Christmas.
When the six months lease expired last June the family had to move, as the house was needed for the landlady’s family.
In a written reference the landlady said she had “nothing but praise for [Caroline] and her family, describing them as “very co-operative in every way”.
Since leaving their home in Ennistymon the family of nine have lived in a caravan on the side of the road.
They were moved on from one location on the side of the Lisdoonvarna Road, Ennistymon. Conditions at this location were so bad that the caravan had sunk into the mud underneath and a digger had to help with the removal of the caravan.
They moved to the Liscannor shoreline but the high winds and rain on Thursday night last all but toppled the van.
“The children were absolutely terrified. We thought the caravan was going to turn over,” said worried mother Caroline.
“We have now moved to Cregg (outside Lahinch) but that isn’t safe either. We are settled in this spot out of necessity; it is not a place to stay permanently. The children are afraid to go to sleep at night, and I am worried. The small one wants to go outside and play, but it is not safe,” she said.
Ms Sherlock said the family are settled in the local schools in Ennistymon – one in secondary, four in primary and one in preschool – and she believes that remaining in the same community is the best thing for her family. The teachers agree.
In a reference from one of the teachers teaching the Sherlock family, and seen by The Clare People, the teacher praises the work of Ms Sherlock as a mother.
According to the teacher, the children have a good attendance rate at school and Caroline is very supportive of the school.
It also stated that the children “are visibly shaken by he ongoing accommodation crisis”.
“They are currently living in a small mobile home at the side of the road without electricity or running water, not enough bed space for the family and no toilet and washing facilities,” the teacher wrote.
She added that it is imperative that the children continue at the school “where they feel happy and secure and school staff are aware of and cater for their educational needs”.

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