There are concerns that access to an historic Kerry island visited by thousands of people each year may be restricted unless urgent repairs are carried out to a mainland pier.
Dunquin pier, one of the main departure points for the Great Blasket Island, was damaged in recent storms and left vulnerable to further harm from the elements.
The pier, used by ferries taking visitors to the Great Blasket and some fishermen on the Dingle Peninsula, is now in a dangerous state, according to Micheál de Mórdha, manager of the Blasket Interpretive Centre in Dunquin.
“The big fear is that it could go completely if there’s another storm like Darwin,” he warned.
“The pier and steps leading to it have been deteriorating for the past few years and ‘skelps’ have been taken out by every storm. It’s being gradually eroded.”
A corner of the pier wall has been washed away, chunks of concrete have been torn from a slipway, and many of the steps have gone. The pier cannot be used at present and any repair works are being hampered because of difficulty in getting machinery to the places where structural damage has occurred.
Mr de Mórdha said the pier, which is sign-posted as part of the Wild Atlantic Way, is now unsafe for people, especially children.
“This matter needs to be dealt with quickly because the ferries that take visitors to the Great Blasket will be starting to operate in another two months,” he pointed out.
Kerry County Council is assessing the damage.
Under government plans to designate the Great Blasket a national historic park, it is proposed to build new piers on the island and at Dunquin.
A sum of €6m has been allocated for the project, but there are currently no plans to spend that money, due to financial cutbacks.
Meanwhile, sand has completely disappeared from Coumeenole beach, also on the Dingle Peninsula, where scenes for the 1970 David Lean film, Ryan’s Daughter, were shot.
Only bare rock remains, following the Christmas and new year storms.
“Coumeenole has been denuded of sand in the past, but it always returned in a few days and this is the longest period Coumeenole has been left without any sand. It’s now just a rocky beach,” said Mr de Mórdha.
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