COUNCIL OFFICIALS have admitted they can’t keep their head in the sand on the need to make further improvements at Seafield.
In a bid to “maximise the benefits of this wonderful location for locals and visitors alike,” Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) appealed to the local authority to assess the feasibility of purchasing a tract of land at Seafield to “provide all the necessary amenities that will ensure the pier and beach are managed appropriately”.
Senior executive officer in the West Clare Municipal District, John O’Malley detailed that improvement works have been completed at the pier and beach. “Recent attempts to upgrade parking in the area were not successful due to difficulties in getting overall agreement on the proposed works,” he stated.
O’Malley said the MD was “interested in making further improvements to enhance the existing Green Flag area and to deliver facilities for such a popular location”.
Discussions have been held regarding possible opportunity sites in the area “but more work needs to be progressed here. If a suitable tract of land is available work will commence to ensure that full consideration is given to this. Funding and planning and environmental consents will have to be part of the overall discussion,” he added.
“It’s a challenging location but a spectacular location,” Cllr Murphy commented. He highlighted the challenges that exist for emergency access when required. “We should be taking on some responsibility of upgrading amenities at the location so the very many people that visit have access to toilets or car parking”.
No agreement could be reached on previous car parking works, the Kilkee man recalled. “If there is a piece of land that might be available or if it could be open to being sold to solve this problem, then a group of people might say come and have a chat to us,” Murphy added. “COVID has opened up a lot of our lesser-known locations to more people, the traffic there is chaos and it is also an area of conservation with the dunes”.
According to Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG) attempts were made within the last eighteen months to try get land for extra facilities in Seafield. “That approach could be made again because it was different times. I believe if these people were approached again in a different way we would have success. It is something we need off the west coast at a beautiful location”.
Such optimism was not reflected by Cllr PJ Kelly (FF). “There’s a very entrenched attitude going back many years with the personalities involved, I cannot see an agreement in the near future, I have personally tried, I know many of them involved, some of them are my past pupils but I can’t see it being sorted out that’s being straight out. I hope there is a solution there. This goes back to twenty or thirty years ago, previous councillors were involved and lot of time went into it and no solution”.
Getting a final agreement to try obtain funding has been “very difficult,” O’Malley advised councillors. “It’s a sensitive area and environmentally sensitive but there is something further back to prevent traffic going onto the beach, we will continue to try and improve it, it’s not going away and it’s becoming more popular. We would like to provide the facilities, we have people going there for a day and there’s no toilet for them, you can’t stick your head in the sand, there is an onus on us to provide the facilities”.