ONE of West Cork’s most popular tourist spots – Dursey Island – won’t be accessible to visitors this summer.
Following the closing of the cable car for repairs in April, island residents finally got a connection to the island on Monday – but were told the boat is only for them, and they must be registered to use it.
And when the first ferry from Dursey to the mainland ran on Monday, none of the island’s four inhabitants used it.
That’s according to a farmer on the island who said just one person boarded an inbound ferry and took the six-minute journey out to Dursey, shortly after 11am.
When the farmer initially contacted The Southern Star, it was to state that the ferry – which was promised for last Friday – was a no-show.
However, he later confirmed that the first ferry service began on Monday, but he said he did not know on what day it would be returning.
Last week, a spokesperson for Cork County Council confirmed that LCF Marine of Bere Island would – on behalf of the local authority and the Department of Community and Rural Development – commence a ferry service for islanders to Dursey on May 20th.
The spokesperson said the service would be provided under an interim licence issued by the Department of Transport and would operate for one hour each side of high tide for three days a week – currently Friday/Saturday and Monday.
The Dursey farmer claimed there is confusion locally over the days the ferry is supposed to run and he said he had received no communication from Cork County Council.
‘I am sick of making comments,’ he told this newspaper.
‘After three months of wasted phone calls, we have ended up with zero as far as the residents of Dursey are concerned.’
The new ferry service for the islanders will be available for two hours, either side of high tide, three days a week, but the islander said that only works for holiday home owners who come for a weekend visit.
Dursey islander Joseph Sullivan warned that the restrictions will severely limit the number of people who can visit the island between now and the November deadline for the completion of works to the cable car’s two towers.
He said it was a pity that an island so popular with bird watchers and walkers wouldn’t be accessible to people living on the mainland or tourists visiting the Beara peninsula.
The island’s development officer has been asked to write to Cork County Council requesting that they be provided with a service for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, and that it would run for three days a week.
Cork County Council confirmed that the ferry service did not operate as the sea conditions at the landing location were unsuitable for berthing.