News round-up: West Kerry

The Blasket Islands and Ionad an Bhlascaoid will be upgraded to what Fáilte Ireland terms 'significant points' on the Wild Atlantic Way. The move, which was announced at an event in the Blasket centre on Monday, is expected to greatly increase visitor numbers to the area.

At the event, Minister for Sport and Tourism Brendan Griffin announced a major investment of €2.25 million to create an enhanced experience for an increased numbers of visitors at the site. This development aims to double the number of tourists visiting the centre to 100,000 yearly.

Included in the plan is the development of a 170m walkway and 'signature viewing point' (a term Fáilte Ireland uses to describe 'an iconic, must-see site' on the Wild Atlantic Way) close to Ionad an Bhlascaoid.

This is one of a number of developments at heritage sites along the Wild Atlantic Way, including Carrowmore, Dún Aonghusa and the Ceide Fields. Over half of the €4.3 million allocated nationally will be spent in Dún Chaoin where, as well as the construction of the clifftop walkway, a number of displays in the centre will be upgraded to include interactive table displays in multiple languages.

The funding for the development is the result of a partnership between the OPW and Fáilte Ireland and stems from the view expressed by Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly that: "Sustaining tourism growth in Kerry will very much be dependent on our ability to provide continued improvement in the range and quality of visitor experiences on the ground".

To this end Fáilte Ireland is providing 75 per cent of the funding for the project from its Capital Grants budget, and the remainder of the funding is being provided by the OPW.

Minister Griffin said he was delighted with the investment in the area. "I am delighted to see Fáilte Ireland and the OPW working in partnership to improve and transform the Blasket Centre and many key heritage sites," he said. But not everyone is equally enthused by the prospect of a constructed walkway in an area that is already accessible to walkers and sufficiently off the beaten track to be 'quiet' even at the height of the tourist season.

In repsonse to critical comments from callers to RTE's Saol Ó Dheas, Cllr Seamus Mac Gearailt remarked that while there were objections to everything - even the original development of Ionad an Bhlascaoid which has made a significant difference to the area.

The project for the construction of the walkway and viewing point, is in the planning phase at the moment and is expected to be complete by 2020.

Ionad an Bhlascaoid tells the story of the islanders and their extraordinary literary legacy. It recounts their daily lives and details the community's struggle for existence, their language and culture and eventual evacuation. Their story is told using a variety of means - exhibitions, interactive displays, artefacts, audio visual presentations and artworks.

Cooleen ‘mountain’ is ready for road

Work is expected to start as soon as next week to move the mountain of rock and silt that has been piled up on the shore at Cooleen as work on dredging Dingle's inner harbour progresses.

The removal work will be welcomed by residents in Cooleen who were none too happy to have their sea view obscured by a growing pile of dredge material that is close to 20m high in places.

The Department of the Marine already has a licence to move the mountain to Kerry County Council's landfill site in Milltown, but the preferred option is to use the mostly rock dredge material from around the pier on the ongoing Tralee to Dingle road-widening project.

This will require a licence from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and testing to ensure the rock and silt isn't contaminated by anti-foul or other hazardous materials. However, it is understood that the EPA is favourably disposed to granting approval and the Dept of the Marine is confident of being issued the required permit by next week. All going well, the removal, by road, of the Cooleen mountain should begin very shortly after that.

Meanwhile, the dredging project is continuing pretty much on schedule. Dredging of the inner harbour and a manoeuvring area for boats of up to 110m at the head of the pier is expected to finish next week and the dredgers will then move on to deepening and widening the channel from the pier to Burnham.

It is estimated that a little over 100,000 tonnes of silt will be dredged from the channel and this is to be dumped at sea off Dún Síon Head. The location of the dump site has been the focus of an amount of controversy, largely due to concerns about the environmental impact and potential damage to lobster fishing grounds. An apparent error in the wording of the dumping permit added confusion to the controversy.

The initial dumping permit granted by the EPA last November indicated that the dump site for 106,000 tonnes of uncontaminated silt would be approximately 2km south of Dún Síon Head. However, when dump site marker buoys were put in place much closer to land, locals in Dún Síon brought their concerns to the EPA and the licence application was re-examined. Last month the EPA gave notice of an amendment to the Dumping at Sea Permit saying: "To clarify the consented location… and remove any ambiguity, the location of dumping is to be amended from approx 2km south of Doonshean Head… to approx 0.5km south of Doonsheane.

Get to the Hub of renewable energy

Dingle Hub are organising an introduction to renewable energy for the family as part of Techweek 2018.

Teams from ESB Networks, the Marine and Renewable Energy Institute, UCC and Kerry Education and Training Board will have interactive demonstrations on wind and solar power technologies, model electric grids and electric vans.

The event will take place on Sunday, April 22 from 11am - 2 pm at Dingle Hub in Cuilín.

Art window dedicated to Monsignor unveiled in Ventry

Extraordinary circumstances played a role in the design of the stained glass window, dedicated to the late Mons Padraig Ó Fiannachta, which was unveiled in Seipéal Naomh Caitlíona, Ventry on Saturday evening.

In discussions about the design for the window, which started five years ago between artist Mary Leen and the Monsignor, Mary suggested the inclusion of Saint Jerome and St Michael. Coincidentally, Mons Pádraig was working for the Vatican on St. Jerome's translation of the Bible and had a copy on his desk when Mary called in to discuss this idea.

The late Monsignor had also translated the Bible - in his case into Irish - and Mary added this reference to her stained glass window in which she shows St Jerome holding a copy of An Biobla Naofa.

The draft design of the window, which was intended as a gift to Ventry church, was approved before Mons Ó Fiannachta's death in July 2016 and it fell to his nephew Paddy Fenton to see the project to completion.

"To complete and install a work such as this takes co-operation from a number of people, Paddy Fenton was amazing he was a pleasure to work with," Mary told The Kerryman this week.

The window contains 2,000 pieces of glass, each individually hand painted and fired, and it took seven months of full time work to complete.

New jerseys for Old Comrades

When Dingle football teams next go out on the field wearing their new kit, their opponents won't have any difficulty understanding why 'O'Flaherty's Bar' and the Random Restaurant logo appear on their jerseys. They might find it more difficult, however, to interpret the words 'Old Comrades', topped by an image of a little bird.

It's only fair to help them grasp what people in Dingle already know.

The bird is a wren and 'Old Comrades' is a tune played by every Wren in Dingle and adopted in recent years as a battle hymn by local football teams. Without doubt, having it on the jersey will give strength and courage to everyone who wears it.

The new football kit, which has been sponsored by publican Fergus O'Flaherty and Random Restaurant owner Michael Begley, was unveiled with all due ceremony last Wednesday night in O'Flaherty's bar.

"Fergus and Michael have sponsored a home set of jerseys that has our traditional red and white colours and an away set that is blue and green - the combined colours of Sráid Eoin and Na Piarsaigh. The Dingle GAA logo of the fishing boat coming in the harbour's mouth on the front and the words Old Comrades on the back, a tune played by the Dingle Wrens that signifies the great traditions of our town and club," said Paul Geaney, Cathaoirleach CLG Daingean Uí Chúis.

"We know that our footballers will wear our colours with pride and distinguish themselves on the field of play like all those that have come before them," he added.

Féile parade to bring science to the streets

Science is the theme of the 2018 Féile na Bealtaine street theatre, a key event in the Corca Dhuibhne annual Arts festival which takes place from May 3 to May 7.

Local schools have chosen aspects of science including biodiversity, marine life, and space, providing artists, schools and parents with plenty to do in the coming weeks producing props and costumes.

Giant spiders caused a bit of a stir at the workshop in Glaise Bheag this weekend. These colourful charcters will be accompanied on the streets of Dingle by a lab rat, a submarine and a microscope, among others.

The street theatre on Sunday, May 6 is an opportunity for the whole population from the oldest to the the youngest on the peninsula to take part and Noirín Fanning, parade co-organiser invites everyone to dress up and join the fun.

As far as the rest of the festival is concerned the programmes will be released in the coming week and on Monday, 23 the festival office will open at Moran's Garage for ticket sales.

For more information or to buy tickets online see feilenabealtaine.ie

Cycling club's charity outing

Dingle Cycling Club will hold its annual charity cycle on Saturday, May 5, with the proceeds of the event going once again to Camphill Dingle, and also to Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne and other deserving causes.

The cycle, which coincides with Feile na Bealtaine, will start from the Pobalscoil at 9am, travelling to Camp via Lispole and Annascaul and returning to Dingle via The Conor Pass.

Participants will then have a short break at the Pobalscoil before continuing via Ventry to Slea Head, Ballyferriter, Cuas and back to Dingle.

The total distance is 120km but those who are less fit have the option of the 55km 'Slea Head Challenge', which starts shortly after the main event.

Participants must register for the cycle and this can be done online at: https://register.primoevents.com/ps/event/DinglePeninsulaCyclingChallenge2018. The early booking cost is €15 for students; €20 for members of Cycling Ireland and €25 for non-members. There's a small additional online transaction fee.

Charity bingo

There will be a bingo night in Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne on Sunday, 15th April at 7.30pm to benefit Brú Columbanus, Cork, in memory of Aodhán Ó Conchúir R.I.P.

Kerryman

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