Although I left South Kerry in 1995 to go to college and now live about two hours away from there, I still think of, and often refer to Sneem as home. The memories are good, despite the annual swimming lessons described fondly by Marie Toft in today’s Irish Examiner as the “blue lips and chattering teeth of our childhood” The venue for the brave little swimmers and lifesavers was the beach featured in the header of my blog. You won’t see it advertised anywhere but it’s a gem of a place called The White Strand, between Sneem and Castlecove, the safest little sandy haven where we spent long days every summer.
Growing up by the coast is a privelege and one that allowed us to get involved in rowing, fishing, and other seaside pursuits although as with many things, we didn’t take full advantage of these natural facilities when children. When we were old enough to realise that these things had been on our doorstep for so many years I, like many of my contemporaries and siblings were scattered to the four winds.
Now that we appreciate fully what we had, and still have, it is great to see and hear so much about the beauty spots that were our childhood playgrounds in international publications and on TV shows broadcast globally. Kerry needs to share its secrets with the world, in order to keep the local tourism economy vibrant. A little part of me worries that what has been enjoyed by so many could be overtaken by commercialism and the inevitable growth in visitors to these places. This is a delicate balancing act for tourism bodies and locals alike, whose need to make a living is always competing with the need to preserve our countryside and natural heritage.
So to those who are lucky enough to hail from anywhere along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, do your bit to promote it as a destination but also tell your friends that it needs to look the same after they’ve visited as it did a thousand years ago. It’s ours, and yours, so respect it and the Wild Atlantic Way will be there for future generations to enjoy.