*Photograph: Martin Connolly
Increased investment is needed on mobility and parking for Clare routes along the Wild Atlantic Way to maximise the positive consequences of the footfall attached to the tourism trail.
Citing Clare’s input to the Wild Atlantic Way and the use of locations in West and North Clare as “some of the most marketed and popular visitor destinations and attractions in the country,” Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) led the call for an augmentation into the funding and resourcing of the county to cope with this.
He proposed “increased and improved parking, mobility plan and accompanying implementation funding for as a matter of urgency in advance of 2022 visitor season”. Additional staff and manpower was also sought by the Lisdoonvarna man.
Acting senior executive officer in the West Clare Municipal District, John O’Malley in a written reply outlined, “Following what was once again an extremely busy and positive tourist season in the West Clare MD the focus is now on further improving on the current experience in terms of parking and mobility. The current parking bye laws are to be reviewed in numerous key areas. Resources are key to ensuring that this work is completed as there is a significant body of work involved in the wide-ranging number of key destinations in the MD. The West Clare MD are working with our Roads and Finance Sections to ensure that this progresses.
Locations in Clare such as Kilkee, Lahinch and parts of North Clare “have been very popular and are bringing huge numbers of people” to the county, Cllr Garrihy stated. “We are waiting too long for these areas to have the basic upgrades that they need,” he added.
Successful marketing of the MD has seen high levels of activity at Doolin, Mullaghmore and Kilkee with Seafield also recording an influx in visitors, Garrihy pointed out. “We have to invest now to make sure we don’t lose that image and that people who came this year see that we’ve seen benefits and improved on certain areas”.
This need to plan is “very relevant” to the upcoming County Development Plan, he said. “We can’t be marketing the coast of North Clare and West Clare as our banner without putting the resources in. Parking is one of the basic resources and so are safe footpaths, look at Doolin, we’ve had a situation for twenty years with vast amounts of people coming, it is one of the most internationally recognised villages yet we’ve no basic footpath, doing peace meal isn’t good enough, we can’t be waiting for national grants”.
Support for his proposal was voiced by Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) and Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF). “Trojan work” of the Council’s outdoor staff on litter management, managing public toilets, traffic co-ordination and the addition of lifeguard was acknowledged by Cllr Shane Talty (FF) “in the face of overwhelming crowds visiting our coastal areas”. He suggested an urgent comprehensive review take place in advance of the 2022 budget discussions “so that adequate resources can be allocated where the need is greatest for next season”.