A bit of a mouthful

On the Edge

WHAT’S IN A NAME? The state-of-the-art Ballycroy Visitor Centre, gateway to the recently renamed Wild Nephin National Park.

On the Edge
Áine Ryan

ROWS over titles and names are not only the preserve of our Uachtarán it seems. Whilst our local government representatives are not quite fighting over the nuanced meaning of our little republic/state/country/island, the defining of a geographical space certainly exercised them during the recent monthly meeting at Áras an Chontae.  
Fortunately, it is unlikely either the Queen or the DUP will become embroiled in the row.
It seems, though, that Erris councillors Seán Carey (FF) and Gerry Coyle (FG) will not be backing down any time soon over the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s decision to drop ‘Ballycroy’ from the title of the official name of the Wild Nephin National Park, whose interpretative centre is right in the middle of the village.
Unsurprisingly, the local community isn’t happy either.
Originally named Ballycroy National Park, it was later rebranded the Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park. Last month, however, the NPWS decided to rebrand it as simply Wild Nephin National Park. Less of a mouthful, surely?
After all, when visitors decide to spend some time at this national park they will automatically become aware that its centre is situated in the village of Ballycroy? So, what is the fuss about?  
This is Cllr Carey’s argument: “Ballycroy is an integral part of the national park. The village has the visitor centre, which attracts thousands of tourists per year, and the vast majority of the park is in Ballycroy ... only for Ballycroy that park wouldn’t be there at all. I ask that all signage and correspondences have the name Ballycroy included.”
His county council colleague Gerry Coyle argued that, along with his former colleague Frank Leneghan, he had ensured the name of Ballycroy was included in the title when the park was first opened.   
This is what he said: “It was going to be Mayo National Park, but we said the one in Kerry is not the Kerry National Park, it is Killarney. We fought for it at the time. There is thinking it is bigger than Ballycroy, but it would not be there but for the unique bog.”
The boglands around Ballycroy have ‘one of the last intact active blanket bog systems in Ireland and western Europe’ and are thus important from a scientific perspective.
Giving the councillors’ arguments more strength is the fact that Dáil deputies Rose Conway-Walsh (a native of the village as it happens), Michael Ring and Dara Calleary support the stance.  
On the other hand, from a NPWS perspective, it is a no-brainer: the park has expanded and the name should reflect that.
This is what Denis Strong of the NPWS said:  “A decade ago, the majority of land in the park was in the vicinity of Ballycroy, and that’s why the centre was put there and that’s why the name was chosen at the time. But ten years later, we are looking at the next chapter and the evolution of the National Park, where we have acquired significant areas of land outside the area of Ballycroy to include Bellacorick, Altnabrocky, Derra, Keenagh and Srahmore.”
He explains that the name change reflects not only the expansion of the park but also its increased international importance as a pristine and vast wild area.
There are five other national parks in the republic: Glenveagh National Park; Connemara National Park; Wicklow Mountains National Park; Killarney National Park and Burren National Park.If we were to use those as a template, the argument is on the side of the NPWS. So, how about a compromise: Wild Nephin National Park, and a sub-heading with Ballycroy Visitor Centre?
On this occasion On The Edge is sitting on the fence. Or, more appropriately, a dry stone wall!