Completion of a coastal pathway at Loop Head is seen as “an absolute necessity” to the protection of the area as one councillor criticised how plans have been left sitting “for years”.
Criticism of the delay to works led to Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) tabling a motion before the November sitting of the West Clare Municipal District. He called on Clare County Council to engage with the county walks officer, Fáilte Ireland, the NPWS “and most importantly the landowners at Loop Head to complete the considerable work previously undertaken on coastal pathway by Loop Head Tourism”.
Acting senior executive officer of the West Clare MD, John O’Malley acknowledged “a lot of work has previously been carried out around this proposal”. He stated it was planned to progress the works in the coming weeks with engagement “with the NPWS, Failte Ireland and the County’s Rural Recreation Officer as part of this process to ensure a properly planned project is set out. The local landowners will have a major role to play in this and they will be contacted at the earliest stage once the vision for the route is agreed between Council departments”.
Addressing the meeting, Cllr Murphy stated that the process began “well in excess of eight years ago. The fact that we’re still talking about it is an indictment”. A former Chair of Loop Head Tourism, he said “all of the heavy lifting was done by the community” with agreement reached among twenty different landowners. “It has been sitting on a desk for a couple of years,” Murphy commented.
He described the location as sensitive but urged the Council to accelerate the progression of works. “I fully accept the need to proceed with caution but a lot of people are visiting the area and have been doing so for some time. If we’re seriously talking about the protection of the area, it is an absolute necessity. It needs momentum”.
Assistance will be plentiful from the community, Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG) believed. “You are dealing with decent people in Loop Head. They are very progressive farmers. Any help you can get will be forthcoming”.
Clare County Council “have a real role to play” on similar projects, Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) felt. “One of the most incredible walks possible in the world is from Cliffs of Moher to Doolin, it is another area to look at when connecting communities”.
Appropriate investment requires further work on the local authority’s perspective, Director of Service Leonard Cleary admitted. He told the meeting both O’Malley and Head of Tourism Deirdre O’Shea were “working on it to make sure it happens”. He added, “That walk and one in Kilkee is to the fore of our mind on investment”.