Sunday 19 November 2017

Fences 'destroying magic' of Peig's island

Anne Lucey

ONE of the country's most picturesque islands has had its "magic" destroyed by unsightly fencing, it was claimed last night.

Green wire-mesh fencing has been erected on the Great Blasket off the Kerry coast even though it is hoped the island will shortly be designated as a historic park.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) -- the body in charge of the largely state-owned island -- argues that the fencing is at a low level and is necessary around crumbling buildings for health and safety reasons.

But local tourism operators said the fencing would significantly impact on the number of visitors to the island this summer.

Michael Sheeran, the operator of two ferries to the Blasket from Dunquin, said he had ferried the OPW workers to the island to erect the fencing. And he said he would be quite willing to take them out again to remove the fencing.

"There was always an open-field system on the Great Blasket," Mr Sheeran said yesterday.

"It has destroyed the magic of the island. I am just reflecting the feeling of visitors."

He added that a number of German press photographers declined to photograph the island after seeing the fencing.

But the OPW maintained the works were carried out as part of a health and safety programme.

A spokesman said that the fencing was being placed around the main upstanding ruins of the houses in the old village, which the State had bought.

Long-running plans to provide a cafe and other services will be the subject of a Bord Pleanala hearing in Dingle next month, and, if given the green light, the Government will push on with a €10m plan to have the island designated a National Historic Park.

Last year, the State bought the majority land holding on the Blasket -- 17 of the 25 holdings on the 1,100-acre island -- for €2m.

This means that most of the island is now in State ownership.

The former home of writer Peig Sayers is one of the few that remains in private ownership.

Irish Independent

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