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Saturday, September 23, 2023

OPW spends €35k to rent toilet on Great Blasket Island

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has spent more than €35,000 renting a cottage in order to provide a public toilet on the Great Blasket Island.

Around 12,000 people visit Blascaod Mór every year but the island off the Co. Kerry coast has no permanent toilet or landing facilities.

Controversy erupted last year amid claims that visitors were using the ruins of Peig Sayer’s former home as a toilet. As a result, earlier this year the OPW entered a lease agreement with the owner of a cottage on the island to provide a toilet for public use.

The OPW has now revealed that the rental fee for the cottage is €35,000 for the season. There are additional charges for cleaning, restocking, waste management and general maintenance as required.

Meanwhile, the OPW has appointed “an architect-led multidisciplinary team to assess options on the island for alternative toilets and this work is ongoing,” a spokesman said.

With regards to pier facilities, tender documents for a feasibility study are to be published shortly. On his first visit to the Great Blasket Island, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said landing facilities and other essential infrastructure work — postponed previously — on the unique island was now the focus.

No decision on the type of landing facility, pier or pontoon on the Great Blasket can be made until strict environmental assessments are carried out.

Studies, including foreshore and an underwater study, to assess environmental criteria were needed and archaeologists have been on the island carrying out work.

The OPW, the NPWS, together with the Department of the Gaeltacht and Kerry County Council, were all involved in a steering committee set up for the Blasket pier and other essential infrastructure. 

Two weeks ago the Taoiseach and Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW and the Gaeltacht, Patrick O’Donovan, visited the former home on the Great Blasket of author Tomás Ó Criomhthain, which has been restored.

The spokesman for the OPW said a senior officials group has been convened to assess options for improving landing facilities to an Blascaod Mór and Dunquin pier. It is expected that invitations to tender for a feasibility study will be issued in the coming weeks.

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