Wild Atlantic Way discovery signs ‘a blight on landscape’

They have been described as “gallows” by some critics and even as “a blight on the landscape” by others, but Fáilte Ireland says its discovery point signs on the Wild Atlantic Way were erected after a lengthy public consultation process.

A county councillor is now seeking clarification on whether these signs required planning permission before they were put up at some of the most scenic points along our Atlantic coastline.

Fianna Fáil’s Michael O’Shea said he had received a number of complaints from residents in west Kerry complaining about what they see as “eyesores” that obscure their view of the Blasket Islands.

He is raising the issue at a meeting of the South and West Kerry Municipal District tomorrow because he says he doubts very much a public consultation process ever took place. There has also been criticism of the structures in other parts of the country reported in local papers and in negative commentary on social media.

Fáilte Ireland has spent more than €400,000 on the steel structures that have been erected at 134 of the 188 ‘discovery points’ identified along the route for which interpretation panels and photo points have also been developed.

It says the photo panels were developed as “bespoke artistic installations in line with international best practice” and were being installed at locations that captured the dramatic view.

Fáilte Ireland said the locations for each of the discovery points were chosen with due consideration to all environmental factors and the materials were chosen after a detailed process to ensure durability and resilience.

Spokesman Alex Connolly said because they’re erected on sites owned by the local authorities along the 2,500km route, planning permission was not required.

“In each area there would have been consultation with local interest groups before we put them in,” he said.

“We recently had 250 international travel agents over and brought them on familiarisation trips on the Wild Atlantic Way and they seem to be popular with international visitors.

“We’ve also noticed they’ve started to pop up online, which is basically the idea behind them.

“The whole idea is to slow people down and get them to explore more nearby and that’s key.

“One of our concerns is that people would ‘do the Wild Atlantic Way’ and race up it without actually exploring and looking around. We do want people to spend more time and more money at all these points.”

However, Mr O’Shea says the feedback he has got from constituents is that they’re an eyesore.

“I’ve seen them myself and I can’t understand what they’re supposed to symbolise but there definitely should have been more thought put into it.

“I can’t understand why they went with that type of a steel structure. It’s like an iron post that was left rot there at the side of the road of a car park,” he said.

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