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Record numbers flock to West Cork beaches

July 22nd, 2021 12:48 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Jumping off the waterfall at the woods at Killbritain was Sophia Fitzgerald Ross from Bandon. Picture Denis Boyle

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Sunday was the busiest day ever in Barleycove, but lots of other West Cork hot spots have seen a record number of visitors as the temperate approaches record levels.

Met Éireann confirmed highs of 27 in many locations throughout West Cork in recent days, and Glengarriff peaked at 27.6 degrees on Tuesday.

The scorching hot weather has encouraged people to get out and make the most of the highs – courtesy of the Azores – and enjoy West Cork’s beautiful beaches from Garretstown to Inchydoney and from Tragumna to Barleycove.

It was at Western Division meeting on Monday that Cllr Ross O’Connell mentioned the fact that his 80-year old neighbour, a native of Barleycove, said she never in her life seen the place so busy.

Schull and Ballydehob were thronged too with locals, holiday home owners, staycationers and international tourists filling the streets and giving the villages a distinctive Saint-Tropez vibe.

Bantry, Skibbereen and Clonakilty are always busy but the influx of visitors surprised business owners as they saw sales of summer staples soar.

Hardware stores and garden centres have had a run on parasols, essential for creating shade, and the sale of outdoor grills has never been better.

Market towns like Skibbereen, Clonakilty and Bantry saw a dramatic increase in the number of day trippers as people went to enjoy the kind of open air market atmosphere that is usually reserved for the Mediterranean.

Hidden gems, like Ballyrisode, Zetland Pier and the private beaches around Glandore, were packed as people took the opportunity to cool off during the country’s five-day heatwave.

There are, however, downsides as members of the Western Division pointed out on Monday. Parking in Barleycove, for example, continues to be described as ‘problematic.’

According to Cllr O’Connell, ‘the problem starts early in the day with campers. At 7am on Monday morning there were campers absolutely everywhere, which meant there was little or no space for other vehicles before the day even began.’

He appealed to people to be respectful and to leave room for the ambulance services, and to leave the place clean and tidy.
‘On Monday morning,’ he said, ‘there was a lot of garbage to be collected. Although the ground units were out early, it shouldn’t be left up to the Council, people should be bringing their rubbish home.’

Something similar was reported in Garrettstown, where Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) complained that 90% of the available parking has been taken up with camper vans. He also questioned the availability – or lack thereof – of toilet facilities in the area.

Meanwhile, Teagasc is urging all involved in outdoor activity to exercise extreme caution and to heed the high-level warning for fires in place for the coming week.

Due to current dry weather patterns and high temperature, the risk of fires is possible in all areas, especially where there is dried heather and gorse, which acts like kindling in a wildfire.

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