OPINION: The Ring of Kerry route is worth countless millions to Kerry and the entire country but, as the golden goose of the tourism industry, it needs proper attention and investment if it is to continue to prosper and reach its full potential, writes Cllr Michael Cahill, the Deputy Mayor of Kerry and Cathaoirleach of the Kenmare Municipal District
THE Ring of Kerry road should hold a much higher priority, in the scheme of things, for Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Kerry County Council and, not least, the Departments of Tourism and Finance.
The volume of traffic on the Ring of Kerry, including scores of large coaches daily during the tourist season, should afford it the investment due for a much more highly ranked thoroughfare but, more importantly, the revenue it generates for the whole country, marks it out for central government funding.
The Ring of Kerry is by far the largest and most visited tourist destination in all of Ireland and possibly all of Europe and yet many parts of it are not fit for purpose for the volumes of vehicles, particularly large coaches and trucks, that it has to deal with.
Add to this the fact that, as it meanders through some of the remoter parts of this county, it also has to cater for work commuters who need to travel for employment to the larger centres.
Remember, the Ring of Kerry road exclusively services the residents of Glenbeigh, Cahersiveen, Portmagee, Ballinskelligs, Waterville, Caherdaniel and Sneem to mention but a few.
In terms of overall volumes, the maintenance of this very important and integral piece of infrastructure requires a much larger workforce and budget to be directed towards its upkeep.
The Ring of Kerry requires an enormous amount of road improvements as well as day-to-day maintenance, including hedgerow management in order that the fantastic panoramas are seen to their full potential.
You would have to stand up on top of a double decker bus to see many of the world class views that we have to offer, particularly between Glenbeigh and Kells on to Caherciveen. Why are we afraid to show off our spectacular county to the world?
In addition, this is the same route as the South Kerry Greenway, the single biggest and best tourism project ever for our county, a project that will bring life back to the town of Caherciveen, a town that has been on its knees for decades, with closed up businesses and a blackspot for forced emigration.
As I have been saying for the past 11 years, the South Kerry Greenway will be undoubtedly a lifeline and a game-changer and it will bring a halt to emigration in Iveragh, Caherciveen and throughout South Kerry.
The Ring of Kerry is the first destination on any visitor’s itinerary when visiting Ireland and, therefore, it is worth countless millions to this county and country and it only makes sense then, as the golden goose so to speak, that it be afforded the best of upgrades and maintenance.
I am calling for a major investment in this 180km unique and extraordinary stretch of roadway as an investment in the future of tourism in this country. I have been beating this drum now, for many a long day but I am hopeful that recent experiences during the pandemic lockdown will open the eyes of those in authority to the important things that need to be looked after.