Health is cheap at any price wrote Dr George Moorhead to the Tullamore Town Council in 1930. This letter is of interest on the background to the adoption of the water scheme for Tullamore in 1895 and the shortfalls thirty years and more later. The Tullamore Town Council was established in 1900 and followed on the Town Commissioners in 1860. 156 years ago we had only a candle in O’Connor Square to serve as public lighting, no piped water and no sewerage. We did have a town clock and bell (now in the Tullamore DEW Visitor Centre).
Letter from Dr G. A. Moorhead M.O.H. to Tullamore Town Council, 4 Feb 1930 from the minute books of the council, now housed in the Tullamore Central Library archives room.
“As you will have under discussion this evening various schemes for improving the supply of water to the town, I wish to make a few remarks on the subject, nearly thirty years of age as M.O.H. it became my duty in the interest of the public health to take an active part in the establishment of a public water supply to the town, and I may say I was largely responsible for the adoption of the present scheme now in force.
Notwithstanding the fact that at that time, the health of the town was in an appalling state, and that an outbreak of typhoid fever which carried off some of our prominent townsmen was directly caused by the impurity of the well waters, which were the only available supply to the public, the inception of this scheme met with strenuous opposition.
As a … to this opposition necessary portions in the original scheme were abandoned, and their elimination has led to the present impasse in the supply. We were perfectly aware of the imperfections of the scheme at the time, but being driven by the urgency of the situation to get water, at any sacrifice and thus to save the lives of the people, we were obliged to adopt it.
I have no hesitation in saying that our town would long since have been reduced to the condition of a small village, if we failed at that time in our project, instead of being as it is now the capital town in our county and the centre of county administration.
We are now faced with a crisis, the result of the imperfections which were for seen at the inception of the scheme and the … of remedying which, must be considerable. I hold that health is cheap at any price, and that you cannot have health without an abundant supply of pure water. The water shed from which the supply is derived is capable of a most generous supply, its proper distribution is the fault. I have advocated a bath in every house, which some may regard as a luxury, but I have hold it to be necessary, more necessary for the labourer than the employer.
Either schemes numbers 1 or 2 which I have heard discussed would be … to this extra strain if approved and I am perfectly satisfied, would well repay the outlay in the increased health of the community and the extension and prosperity of the town” (4 – 10 Feb. 1930 pp 79-81, Offaly County Archives Service TUDC 11/2/2).
Annual cost of £8,000 scheme Loan
Repayable in 25 years. Expend for 1st year
Interest at 5¾% £460
Scheme No. 2 adopted. Prop Mr Lumley
Seconded Mr O’Brien.
“ That putting in of an underground tank at Clonminch which the existing main would deliver continuously during the 24 hours and the installing of a pumping plant to pump the water from the underground tank to a high level ferro concrete tank” (4& 10 Feb 1930, TUDC 11/2/2)
Illustrations of the cost of the improvements on the ratepayers