There is “palpable anger” amongst the community in Ballinskelligs in south Kerry at the decision by An Bord Pleanala to overturn planning permission for a 48-bedroom hotel as part of a major revamp of the landmark Cable O'Leary's.
It was hoped the revamp would create a year-round facility for tourists as well as for locals in the heart of the south Kerry Gaeltacht, and there had been consultation between the developer and the local community who were fully behind it.
The proposal by OS Properties for Cable O’Leary’s, a former 12-bedroom hotel overlooking Ballinskelligs Bay, was to demolish the building, currently operating as a bar, and replace it with a three-storey complex with a function room and gym, restaurant and bar, car and bus park. Permission had been granted by Kerry County Council but an appeal by holiday home owners was lodged in August.
The plans were deemed excessive and out of character with the area by An Bord Pleanála last week, in line with objections by a number of holiday home owners. The board also considered the demolition of the existing building unjustified.
Des Cronin, who manages the centre run by the local development agency, Coiste Forbartha na Sceilge, said the decision to turn down Cable O’Leary’s was “absolutely crazy”.
He said “pure and utter palpable anger" about the decision was expressed at an event over the weekend.
We had somebody willing to invest €20 million or more. We are trying to keep people in our school.
"We are trying to keep a football team going. You could count on one hand the number of people between 18 and 50 in the area,” he said.
Mr Cronin said the matter had created division between second home owners and locals but “we are cogniscent it is not all holiday home owners,” he said.
The decision had affected the whole community in Iveragh.
He had had calls all weekend from the owners of second homes, “devastated" at the news as revealed in the Irish Examiner on Friday.
Those who objected “want to create a reserve where they can come for the old weekend and a few weeks in summer,” it was felt.
Objections to the development centred on design, fears of mass tourism as well as traffic and interference with what was a haven for walkers and cyclists.
The existing hotel dates from 1894, the height of the transatlantic cable connection between south Kerry and North America, and was called after a local character involved in the laying of the cable and in fighting evictions.