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Mixed reaction to viewing platform for Keem Bay

News

Mixed reaction to plans for viewing platform at Keem Bay


Anton McNulty

THE proposal to erect a viewing platform on a hill over Keem Bay on Achill Island is expected to face some opposition after a mixed initial reaction to the idea.
The Mayo News revealed that as part of the plans for a Signature Discovery Point to be located at Keem Bay, it is proposed to include a viewing platform with a glass walkway on a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
The story prompted a lot of comment on social media sites last week with a number of people expressing their view that there should be no development on the hill known as Moiteóg Head.
Achill based sculptor, Ronan Halpin was one of those who expressed his concern regarding the proposal.
“Firstly, can I say that I welcome the fact that the Minister has secured this funding for Achill Island. I do, however have serious reservations about proposals to construct anything at Moiteóg Head overlooking Keem Bay. Apart from the visual intrusion, the sustainability of any structure which is so exposed to the ravages of the wild Atlantic must be considered,” he told The Mayo News.
“Keem Bay is one the most beautiful and unspoilt places in our country. Its isolation and seclusion are a major part of it’s inherent charm. The proposal to build a glass walkway at the top of Moiteóg would seem to fly in the face of all this natural beauty and majesty.
“Is it really necessary to intervene, in this manner, in this special landscape in order to increase tourist numbers coming to the Island? The reason the majority of people choose to visit Achill is precisely because we don’t have this ‘Disneyfication’ of the landscape. Maybe there are more sustainable and less intrusive ways to improve the very laudable efforts to increase tourist numbers coming to the Island?,” he asked.

Backing
However, the local development company, Comhlacht Forbartha Áitiúil Acla have backed the proposal with its Chairman, Pat Kilbane saying it was ‘something very positive and will serve as a resource to develop the great natural tourism product’.
Terence Dever, CEO of CFÁA said the organisation was fully behind the proposals and said they will work to help deliver the project.
“The parish of Achill is very reliant on tourism for sustainable employment and development and a vote of confidence such as this from Minister Ring, Fáilte Ireland and Mayo County Council is a very important statement as it places Achill central to the development of the tourist industry and infrastructure along the west coast. The sooner the destination point is delivered the better for all,” he said.
The project is to be designed by American architect Travis Price, who also designed the other Signature Discovery Point at Downpatrick Head and the proposal also includes a ‘Font of Creativity’ at the beach carpark, which will celebrate Irish creativity at national and local level.