Well-heeled Dalkey folk are now about to become well-oiled
'Gold coast' suburb could be at centre of a black-gold rush
It is known as 'the gold coast' because of the number of rock stars and film celebrities living there, but now the swish south Dublin suburb of Dalkey could become the centre of Ireland's oil industry.
Exploration group Providence Resources is soon set to begin searching for oil off Dalkey Island. During the week the company issued a statement saying that initial soundings taken in an exploration licence area in the Kish Bank in the Irish Sea, known as the Dalkey Island prospect, indicate that it has the potential to produce oil.
Any activity will be off-shore and drilling is not likely to begin there for some time.
Providence and its 50 per cent partner in the block, Petronas, initially intend to run seismic tests, which will provide a picture of the area's geology. This should provide the main clues to the whereabouts of the oil or natural gas. Based on the results it will then begin exploratory drilling.
A leading Irish geologist, who did not wish to be named, said that the proof of the pudding would be when drilling took place.
On average, he said, the success rate with drilling was about one in 20. "It's a high-risk business, and everybody in it is trying to hit the jackpot, much of the time unsuccessfully. But if you do hit it, the rewards are great."
He said he had been involved in the drilling of "an awful lot of wells around the world" but, unfortunately, most had been unsuccessful.
"At least it looks positive enough at this stage, and we're badly in need of good news at present, so the best of luck to them," he said.
But the prospect of oil rigs and the prospect of historic Dalkey turning into a boom town doesn't appeal to everybody. "Possibly it will create jobs but I don't fancy the place turning into a refinery. They said it would be a long way off-shore so I don't think it will have that much of an effect on the views. It may be a sort of gold-rush," said Patrick Riordan who has lived in Dalkey for 36 years.
"If you look back into the history of Dalkey in the 1700s, there was a gold fever, so I think it will be similar to this and they will eventually find nothing," said another resident, who didn't want to be named.
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Until last week's announcement Dalkey was best known as the home of Bono, Van Morrison and Michelle Rocca, the film directors Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan, singer Chris de Burgh and a host of other writers and musicians who have colonised the scenic coast. The singer Enya has her own castle looking out over the Dalkey Island sound.
Michael Simmons, owner of the Exchange Bookshop on the main street in Dalkey, thinks exploration will be great for Dalkey and is not worried about it affecting the beauty of the island. "Apparently the infrastructure will be behind Dalkey Island so one won't be able to see anything," he said.
"It won't be beneficial to the area but it will be to the economy. I have no idea what will be found, apparently it is part of a rock formation over in Mersey and they found it on that but it doesn't excite me unless it actually happens," said Joanna Troughton of nearby Ballybrack.
"If it was April 1, I would have thought it was April's Fool but I do think it will interrupt the view from my house which I am worried about," said local Catherine Crothers yesterday.
"It wouldn't surprise me if oil was found. I think it could be an issue where the infrastructure is not attractive and it takes away from the view. That will be where the complaints will arrive. Job creation will be the only positive aspect," said Mary Barry, who has lived in Dalkey for three years.
Two men, who regularly fish on the glittering waters of Dalkey and liken it to the beautiful sea views of the Amalfi Coast, said: "If it brings money to the area it will be good. If oil can be found everywhere else in the world, why not here. It won't bring jobs to the area as they will bring foreigners in.
"I feel sorry for Jim Sheridan if infrastructure is brought in as it will affect his views. I certainly wouldn't like to be looking at a big drilling station when I was fishing," said Ciaran Hickey, Barry Russell and David Russell.
Located eight miles out of the city on the southern end of Dublin Bay, Dalkey is a picture-postcard rural village which is Ireland's own Beverley Hills with U2 frontman Bono living there and also band member The Edge living in Sorrento Cottage.
Littered with the who's who of Dublin, other residents include best-selling writer Maeve Binchy, who lives on Sorrento Road. Neil Jordan, director of many popular films such as The Crying Game and Michael Collins, lives on Sorrento Terrace, one of the most sought after addresses in Ireland. Former Formula 1 racing driver Eddie Irvine also lives on Sorrento Road, as does Van Morrison. RTE presenter Pat Kenny lives near Bullock Harbour. Enya, lives in Ayesha Castle in next-door Killiney.
The overall consensus seems to be that residents of Dalkey hope the village will retain its charm despite the oil rush. So instead of passer-bys vainly searching for Bono, it now looks like they will be coming for the oil instead.