In the second of our tourism series, Conor Kane drops in on Dunmore East, the location of the new ‘EastEnders’ spin-off
LONG established as a bolthole for visitors from Munster and the eastern half of the country, and more recently as a haven for those from further afield, Dunmore East looks set to get an influx of holidaymakers who are new to the area in the coming months and years.
Filming of the EastEnders spin-off, Redwater, has been taking place in the Co Waterford resort over the last couple of months, already positioning it in Irish and British media as an attractive place to go.
When the BBC series, starring Jessie Wallace and Shane Richie and a host of established Irish actors, hits TV screens next January, a major boost is likely.
What newcomers to Dunmore East will find is a compact, bustling, friendly seaside town which draws on its rich maritime heritage to provide a range of coastal amenities while also offering plenty in the way of places to eat, drink and sleep.
The two main beautiful blue flag beaches, augmented by a handful of smaller coves nestling into the shoreline, are just the start. And it’s good start, as numerous families were proving during the Irish Examiner’s visit.
“The beaches are small and there’s lots to do for the kids, that’s the main thing,” Claire Milner, down from Laois for a week with her husband, children and their friends and their friends’ children, said while taking a break from digging sand.
“There’s a nice kind of crowd here and you don’t have to drive, everything is on your doorstep.”
The town is indeed full of, and surrounded by, fabulous scenery and many things to do, while being a short spin away from Waterford city.
The famous cliff walks, the woods, sailing, swimming, kayaking, are just some of the adventures available in this area while the last few years have seen more and more options opening up in the line of hotel/caravan park/B&B accommodation as well as restaurants and coffee shops.
Festivals are also popular in Dunmore East, from the recent food festival, which kicks off the summer, to the Bluegrass Festival at the end of August which bookends the season, while it would be hard to find golf or tennis clubs based in more scenic locales.
A sign of the optimism about the place was the decision by Jacqui Corcoran and her husband David Deegan to take over the Three Sisters Hotel (formerly the Ocean) at the end of the year.
With the help of “a strong community effort,” they got the kitchen up and running for the new year’s eve bookings “and we haven’t looked back since,” Jacqui says.
“I moved from London to Dunmore East when I was seven years old and to me it’s just a magical place.”
She points to the many things for younger folk to do, in “very safe” environs, along with the nightlife, dining options, and hotels for the adults: “You have kind of got it all here.”
Down at the harbour, the recently-completed dredging operation has made it more accessible to more boats while the ongoing construction of a new pontoon will allow more yachts to berth here.
Close by is the Dunmore Adventure Centre, where director, Rupert Musgrave, is optimistic about this summer.
“People seem to be getting out and about a lot more which is great. The families seem to be spending money again. In general, Dunmore seems to be busier.”
School tours are a big part of business during the shoulder [between peak and off-peak] season and now, with school out, it will be holiday-makers and day-trippers using the centre’s range of facilities which include the only aquapark in the region, sea kayaking, sailing, canoeing, climbing, caving, and more.
Clifden Foyle, chairman of the local tourism group and owner of the popular Strand Inn and adjacent gallery among other businesses, is also positive about the months ahead.
“Fortunately, the eastern half of the country seems to be coming out of the recession pretty strongly.”
Filming of Red Water provided a fillip to local businesses during late spring/early summer, as well as “putting Dunmore on the map,” as Clifden says, with up to 100 crew members staying in the village over the last six weeks or so.
“I’d say Dunmore is in a very good place right now.”
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