Scenic Cloghane may remain a hidden gem

Dnal Nolan

LOCALS living on one of the finest Atlantic coastal roads in the entire country fear the worst for their community if efforts to include it in the Wild Atlantic Way fail.

Scenic Cloghane/Brandon is a hidden gem for tourists and locals are concerned that is exactly how it will remain because it does not form part of the new Wild Atlantic Way tourist route drawn up by Fáilte Ireland.

Now, the community is fearing the worst for its future as it could lose out on crucial tourist business - the industry upon which it relies to get through the year.

Residents say they are being supported by Kerry County Council in their efforts to make it onto the Wild Atlantic Way route, which is expected to boost tourism on the west coast into the future.

Fáilte Ireland was to meet with the council this month to iron out the final details of the route through Kerry and locals in Cloghane hoped this would see their area included. However, the month is now up and it appears no meeting has taken place.

"Kerry County Council told us they would support our calls to be included. Fáilte Ireland were to meet with them in March on this but we've heard nothing," O'Connor's Guesthouse owner Mícheál O'Dowd told The Kerryman.

"The Wild Atlantic Way is Fáilte Ireland's baby and they say what clothes the baby is going to be wearing.

"Our community is currently being decimated by unemployment and we're trying desperately to hold onto our young people. We're totally dependant on tourism to do so and to keep our community alive so it is crucial we're included on the Atlantic Way," Mr O'Dowd added.

Cloghane's exclusion is mystifying. Although terminating in an effective cul-de-sac at Brandon Point, it comprises one of the finest coastal roads in this or any other county and it would take little to include it in the Wild Atlantic Way as a loop from the Conor Pass route. Wild Atlantic Way explorers are already encouraged towards it, but only as far as Fermoyle strand.

"I had two Americans staying this week who were absolutely agog at the area and they are going to write personally to Fáilte Ireland to encourage Cloghane's inclusion as they can't believe it is not already part of the Way. We feel Fáilte Ireland have never given us a break down here, but we badly need this one to come through if we are to survive as a community and keep our young people," Mr O'Dowd said.