Saturday, March 11, 2023

Changes must be made to traffic management at Keem Bay on Achill Island ahead of the tourist season, according to local Cllr Paul McNamara.

Cllr McNamara told last week’s meeting of the Westport-Belmullet Municipal District that parking facilities need to be improved at the popular beach after Gardaí raised concerns around the safety of parking there last year. He believes there will be a larger influx of visitors to Keem Bay this summer because of the success of the Academy Award-nominated film The Banshees of Inisherinwhich was shot there.

The stunning Keem Bay on Achill Island is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the Wild Atlantic Way. Picture: Sean Molloy

Cllr McNamara asked whether it was the council or the Gardaí who were charged with implementing traffic bye-laws at Keem Bay. Double yellow lines were marked along the road near the car park, but that did not solve the problem.

“I don’t believe that we can have a situation where Keem Bay is closed every day from 12.30pm,” he said. “There has to be a better structure in place in order to facilitate visitors and local people.”

“I don’t think a garda standing down at the entrance to Keem Bay saying it’s closed or overcrowded is the answer.

“I think a lot of the problems are caused by overnight parking, but there are signs up that strictly say no parking.”

Cllr McNamara said it should not be forgotten that Keem Bay is a Special Area of Conservation.

“The reason that The Banshees of Inisherin has been so successful is that if you look at Achill, the landscape hasn’t changed for the last 100 years, so we need to make sure we preserve that.”

Cllr Gerry Coyle supported his colleague and said the road to Keem Bay is ‘chaos’ during the summer.

The council’s director of services, Catherine McConnell, said there is a plan being worked on with various agencies, including the Gardaí. Engagement is currently taking place with the local community to devise a strategy and a report will be brought before the next municipal district meeting.

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