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Call for urgent action after Keem Bay chaos


SWIFT CLOSURE Gardaí at a road block at Dooagh, blocking access to Keem Bay due to overcrowding at the world famous beach.

World famous Achill beach closed due to overcrowding

Edwin McGreal

Emergency by-laws need to be enacted this week after Keem Bay beach was closed for the second weekend in a row.
That’s according to Achill-based councillor Paul McNamara who made the call after hundreds of people camped at the beauty spot over the bank holiday weekend.
The road to the Blue Flag beach had to be closed for the second weekend running as tourists from all over the country flocked to Achill with the easing of restrictions.
The Mayo News visited Keem Bay close to midnight on Saturday night with Cllr McNamara and counted 167 cars, vans and camper vans parked there. Five hundred people spending the night there is not an unreasonable estimate.
Up to 100 tents were dotted all over the hills around the beach and it was readily apparent that sanitation and litter was going to be an issue.
As a consequence of the crowds there on Saturday night, the road to the beach had to be closed at 12.30pm on Sunday.
“As we know Keem Bay is often ranked as one of the top ten beaches in the world and will end up being a victim of its own success if urgent action is not taken by Mayo County Council.
“The reason Keem Bay had to be closed for the second weekend in a row was due to all the overnight parking that took place in it.
“If emergency by-laws are implemented to prohibit overnight parking at Keem Bay, this will go a long way to solving the problem we have at the minute.
“It is also an SAC (Special Area of Conservation) in which campfires are prohibited and we have to be very conscious of the farming community, that it does not alone affect the environment side of things but also that the farming community are not penalised by the actions of others.

Restricted access
“If an accident was to occur at nighttime in Keem Bay, there is no running water, no electricity, no place for a helicopter to land, there is no street lighting and from what I saw on Saturday night, there was no way an ambulance or fire brigade would be able to get down to the beach with the amount of vehicles parked along the road.
“Furthermore, the only toilets there are located some 500 metres above the beach which creates added problems and could easily become an environmental issue very quickly if not addressed for the health and safety of people visiting the beach as there are a number of streams running down to the beach.
“On top of everything, this could threaten Keem Bay’s Blue Flag status,” said Cllr McNamara.
He made calls for a plan of action last summer after similar issues arose at Keem and elsewhere in Achill in 2020 and reiterated those calls last March.
“The unavoidable reality is that we saw this coming. Such crowds at Keem were an issue last year and was always going to be an issue this year too.
“Mayo County Council had a full year to put a plan in place. There were two reports sent in by local gardaí and I can still see no sign of a plan in place to deal with the busy tourist season that lies ahead.
“The time to act with emergency by-laws prohibiting overnight parking at Keem is now and whatever steps need to be taken need to be acted on now.
“The tourist season is very important to us but it is also important that it done in a sustainable and safe manner,” said Cllr McNamara.