WORLD Heritage site Skellig Michael is to remain open to visitors until the end of October after Minister for the OPW Brian Hayes granted an extension following one of the wettest summers on record.
Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin said he received notification of the news on Friday having previously brought a delegation of Skellig boatmen and local business people to Dublin to raise their concerns with the minister.
The issue has been a bone of contention for decades with poor weather typically curtailing the amount of trips boatmen can take to the World Heritage site. Last year lobbying resulted in an extension of the end of season date from September 24 to October 17, meaning that the OPW allows a guide service to remain on Skellig Michael until that date.
While the extensions have been welcomed, local boatmen say they are becoming increasingly frustrated by the government's continued drive to curtail their summer season.
"This year it didn't open until May 18 even though we appealed to have it opened earlier," Boatman Joe Roddy states, adding that he is not looking for an extension of the season, merely the return to the traditional season from April 1 to October 31.
"This is having a serious effect on our income - the number of permits operating has dropped from 19 down to 14 as many boatmen simply can't continue.
"You can't advertise for people to come and visit the area in Easter when it's actually closed for business. What sort of mentality is that? These are rules made by people who draw their wages in Dublin and there's no local input, "Joe continued.
He added that moves to shorten the season not only affects the livelihood of the Skellig boatmen but also of tourism in the Iveragh Peninsula and the south west in general.