11 March 2006

State set to buy Great Blasket as heritage site

Irish Examiner

By Donal Hickey
11 March 2006

**Please see dingle-peninsula.ie for a great article and more photos on the Blasket Islands

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usTHE long-awaited purchase by the State of Great Blasket Island is to go ahead this year, the Government announced yesterday.

However, there could still be obstacles in the way of the €1.7 million buy-out because agreements on commercial rights to the island, including the landing of visitors, have not yet been finalised, according to local sources.

Dingle solicitor Peter Callery, whose company Blascaod Mor Teo owns 17 of the 25 holdings on the island, has accused the State of not honouring an agreement made three years ago.

His company operates a ferry service between Dingle and the Great Blasket.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) is currently taking legal advice on whether controversial landing rights will be included in the purchase agreement.

The Government decision to acquire the historic island, best known for its literary heritage, was announced last July and confirmation came yesterday that it will shortly take place.

A Fianna Fáil spokesman said the purchase had now been ‘ring-fenced’ with other investments, to take place this year under a conservation programme.

The long-term plan is to have the island designated as a world heritage park.

Kerry Fianna Fáil councillor Tom Fleming, also a nominated FF candidate for the next General Election, said the purchase would turn the Dingle Peninsula into a world heritage centre.

Evacuated in 1953, the Great Blasket remains uninhabited, but is open to visitors who make the three-mile journey from the mainland by using ferries operating out of Dingle and Dunquin.

Under a plan for the future of the island, visitor numbers will be limited and the aim is to conserve the island very much as it looks today.

The village, home to many of the island’s writers, has long since been in ruins and will not be restored.

Holiday homes and camping sites will not be allowed, but toilets, an information centre and catering facilities are to be provided.

The overall plan for the island is reckoned to cost in the region of €8 million and will include the building of new piers at Dunquin and on the island.

Work on the piers is due to start this year.

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