By Martha Brennan
SOME campers have been leaving rubbish behind after illegal stays on West Cork’s beaches.
The rubbish, which includes used toilet paper, bottles, cans, and fire remnants, has sparked outrage among residents after being left behind at undesignated wild camping spots along the coastline.
Camping outside of a site is legal in most of Ireland, but many West Cork beaches are protected conservation areas, which means that permission from Cork County Council is required before setting up camp.
But some campers aren’t heeding, or are unaware, of the Council’s byelaws and fire remnants and other rubbish have been left on beaches around Kinsale, Baltimore, Inchydoney, Tragumna and Long Strand at Castlefreke.
Dan Lettice, a local wildlife photographer, tweeted that the dunes on Long Strand beach were ‘destroyed’ by campers on a recent weekend, even though it is illegal to camp there.
He told The Southern Star that while most campers are responsible, the ones that leave rubbish behind are spoiling it for everyone else.
‘There are usually campers around here and some are responsible, but it’s been very bad the last few weeks,’ Dan said. When walking in the area with a small child, he said he felt ‘uncomfortable’ with the rubbish and fire remnants left behind by a group, who were also seen hitting golf balls off the dunes.
Cork South West TD Holly Cairns (SD) said it was a ‘deeply concerning trend across West Cork’. ‘Sand dunes are vital to protect our coast from erosion and provide rich habitats,’ she added.
A Southern Star reader had a similar experience on Tragumna beach, after spotting a small group camping by the cove. When the reader returned later, the campers had left behind plastic bags, cans, and a box for an air mattress.
Readers called the practice ‘disgusting’ after the pictures were posted online, and commented that it was also happening in other areas, such as Sheep’s Head and Barleycove.
Kinsale and Inchydoney residents have also been picking up rubbish after suspected campers, with one Kinsale man picking up over 13 bags of rubbish at James Fort, where it is legal to ‘wild camp’.
However, it’s not all bad news, with a Kinsale resident praising a group of young campers for not leaving a trace behind after a trip to the popular fort.
‘Respect’ the resident wrote online after posting before and after pictures of the group’s set-up. ‘They were a cool bunch who left the place spotless after what looked like a big night,’ they commented.
Facebook users praised the group and asked other campers to follow the example if visiting the area.