BY CARINA McNALLY
and JACKIE KEOGH
PLANS for a new faster Dursey Cable Car, with greater capacity are being advanced.
The news was revealed after a German man become the 20,000th paying visitor to use the cable car to Dursey Island.
Services director for the West Cork Municipal District Mac Dara Ó h-Icí confirmed that the cable car is well on its way to reaching its 22,000th customer before the end of this year.
And he said the popularity of the service is growing at a rapid rate when compared to 11,500 visitors for the same period in 2016.
The launch of the Wild Atlantic Way – which frequently showcases the Dursey Cable Car in its promotional material – has been credited with the increase in visitor numbers.
But Cork County Council has also made a significant investment in the facility, extended its opening hours, and appointed additional cable car operators.
The local authority is also working in co-operation with Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, on a new cable car project worth an estimated €7m.
Liam Lynch of the Council’s economic development department attended a meeting of the West Cork Municipal District on Monday and explained how the consultancy firm of Roughan O’Donovan is currently exploring options to replace the Dursey Island Cable Car with a new one that would offer increased capacity and speed – or maybe even two – as well as a new visitor centre on the mainland and waiting area and toilet block on Dursey Island.
Mr Lynch said the design phase must be completed by October or November of 2019 if the project is to be in with a chance of advancing to the second level – an application for major funding.
Mr Lynch told councillors that, as part of phase one, the consultants are working on getting community feedback and ideas and he added: ‘Nothing will be done to jeopardise the beauty or ecology of the island. The plan is to optimise Dursey’s potential.’
The project was also the subject of a community tourism meeting held in Lehanmore Community Centre, Garnish.
Attended by Liam Lynch and council engineer Joe Kelly, and Tourist Consultant David McNulty, the purpose of the meeting was to seek the views, opinions and feedback of the local community.
Although the overall feeling was positive, views were mixed. Fears of over-commercialisation, excess traffic and environmental impacts were voiced, while more positive suggestions included a solar powered visitor’s centre and markets for local produce.
One attendee stated that the ‘community should play a large part in what the visitor centre is and not Fáilte Ireland’s vision of what it should be.’
A further public consultation with an Bord Pleanála is to be announced giving another opportunity for opinion and a designated website is to be launched which will be updated with information and ‘keep people in the loop of what is going on.’