Even the presence of an upgraded marina has not stopped “the continuous decline of Caherciveen” and now the town’s Main Street is full of derelict buildings, its pavements broken and footpaths cracked, a delegation of business leaders has told a council meeting.
Two million visitors pass through the main street each year but few stop and “it beggars belief as Caherciveen is on the Ring of Kerry,” the meeting of the South and West Kerry Municipal District heard.
The town has a proud sporting and historical heritage and scenic setting. About €100,000 is being fundraised by a local organisation for ‘a monument’ - understood to be to the Caherciveen native Daniel O’Connell.
Market Street businessman Jack Fitzpatrick who led the delegation said: “The main thoroughfare through the town from New Market Street on the Glenbeigh side to New Street on the Waterville side is marred with derelict commercial sites, derelict commercial buildings and derelict dwelling houses.
“Most of the footpaths outside these derelicts are also in tatters,” he said.
Many properties have been bought by speculators and boarded up and left in this derelict state for years.
“Many more derelict houses are owned by well-heeled individuals,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
He, along with other ratepayers and employers, has urged the council to act to halt “the continuous decline of Caherciveen”. It “beggared belief this town was on the Ring of Kerry,” Cllr Michael Cahill said, saying derelict property in town centres such as Killorglin also could be bought for social housing.
Kerry County Council does not impose rates on vacant businesses. Dozens of buildings bought by speculators lie empty now and are simply being left to decline, the meeting in Killorglin heard.
A proposed greenway, along the disused railway which ran during Caherciveen’s heyday, is “the only show in town” for Caherciveen, councillors said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Michael O’Shea said that Caherciveen is “in stark contrast” to Dingle, which the meeting heard has the advantage of being a Gaeltacht services town.
Senior council engineer Padraig Teahan said Transport Infrastructure Ireland is the funding authority for footpath and pavements as the Main Street in Caherciveen is the N70.
Until recently its focus has been on delivering the national network and not on footpaths and the like.