FEARS for the future of a walking route on Cape Clear, on the land of Chuck and Nell Kruger, were put to rest recently.
The couple, who are leaving the island after 30 years, have announced that most of the land has been purchased with a view to establishing a Trust to maintain it for public access and conservation.
The couple’s homestead straddles the eastern side of South Harbour, leading to the Sea Arch and Pointanbullig.
There was some local concern about the future of this walking route when the couple decided to leave the island this year, but such concerns were dispelled by the news of the Trust, announced at an event which saw the island’s inhabitants gather to wish a fond farewell to Chuck and Nell.
The residents of Cape Clear Island hosted the warm-hearted and poignant farewell party for the couple, which was the last in a series of events, part of the ‘long goodbye’, arranged by various groups and friends on the island and elsewhere.
From early morning as the fire was lit at the Club, plates of food and bottles of wine began to appear, from neighbours and friends and as the borrowed table cloths were spread, the scale and quality of the feast became apparent.
Decorations were limited to the island’s profuse wild flowers, with posies made by island children and vases, also borrowed for the occasion.
While the afternoon was tinged with sadness, there was also a realisation by all of the enormous contribution made by Chuck and Nell to the island and the knowledge that their deeds will bear fruit for many years to come.
Chuck is perhaps best known for the Cape Clear International Storytelling Festival and it was appropriate that festival director, Daphne Babbington was present. Also present was Heritage Centre director Éamon Lankford referencing the splendid archive of photographs taken by Chuck over 30 years, recently presented to the Centre.
The couple’s many gifts to the Island include their warm welcome for strangers and friends alike wishing to enjoy the outstanding natural beauty of their 60-acre holding.
The gathering heard details of the Trust established to maintain a walking route for public access and conservation.
Considerable fundraising will be required in the months to come and both personal contributions and corporate sponsorship will be sought. A FaceBook page has been created at www.facebook.com/IontabhasCleire.