NORTH Clare Councillor Richard Nagle has asked that the council liaise with the Clare Local Development Committee (CLDC) to put in place a maintenance and upgrade programme for the cliff walk from Doolin to Hags Head, in consultation with local landowners.
He raised the issue at the March meeting of West Clare Municipal District.
“If we’re serious about promoting tourism and increasing the number of bed nights in North Clare, this is a primary resource. It is hugely popular and it doesn’t matter what day of the year you go there, there are people walking. There are hundreds of people walking it on a daily basis, during the summer months in particular,” Councillor Nagle said.
He told the meeting that the surface is now in a very poor condition and that maintenance is needed immediately.
“Since it was initially developed, very little money has been spent on that walk. The problem now is that the surface has deteriorated. I see from the reply that a UK-based walks expert has been appointed on risks and repairs. I have no problem with the appointment of the expert but to anybody looking at it, the repairs would be quite simple. The surface needs to be resurfaced. It took two years to spend €70,000, which was spent replacing and repairing steps.
“There are whole sections of that walk in a poor condition. It is doing nothing for the image of tourism in the West of Ireland. Work needs to happen urgently. If we’re going to have meetings upon meetings and nothing happens, the walk is going to deteriorate further. It’s an absolute shame. I can’t understand why it has been left to deteriorate as it has.
“Basic maintenance is the first step and that should be possible without any major study being done. I hope that Leonard Cleary, as our director of rural development, will pursue this. It needs to get a push,” Councillor Nagle urged.
In a written reply, on behalf of Clare County Council, Monica Meehan of the Rural Development section, acknowledged that the walk from Doolin to Hags Head is an important asset of the Burren tourism product and its management requires the co-operation of a range of stakeholders.
“In order to maintain the quality of the product ongoing investment in the physical asset is essential, based on a solid working relationship with local landowners. In this regard, in recent months, a meeting to discuss walks adjacent to the Cliffs of Moher was convened by CLDC with stakeholders, including public agencies and farming representatives participating. The meeting considered a preliminary report by a UK-based rural walks expert on risks and repairs. A number of follow-up actions were agreed,” she outlined.
“The council subsequently met with the CLDC walks officer (Eoin Hogan) to support the delivery of the actions. The resource of a council GIS officer was made available to CLDC to plot the various areas in need of repair, so that they could be mapped and included in a planned maintenance programme.
“The council will liaise with CLDC with a view to planning for the future of the cliffs walk with input from the landowners involved in the partnership for the walks product. This tourism product contributes to the delivery of the targets of the Clare Rural Development Strategy and will also feature in the planned Clare Tourism Strategy,” Ms Meehan added.
By Peter O’Connell