Templenoe GAA is facing up admirably to many of the challenges associated with rural clubs, but it faces a challenge of a very different kind as its grounds on the Kenmare Bay shoreline are immediately vulnerable to coastal erosion.
his puts its stand, parking facilities and even part of its playing field at risk, the club told The Kerryman.
The matter was raised at last Friday’s Kenmare Municipal District meeting by three Councillors – Cllr Dan McCarthy (Independent), Cllr Patrick O’Connor-Scarteen (Fine Gael), and Cllr Norma Moriarty (Fianna Fáil) – but the local authority’s response hasn’t impressed the club.
Cllr Moriarty asked the Council to liaise with the community to source funding to secure the coastline. She explained that the club carried out some rock-armour works in 2003 with some grant support and, primarily, their own funding, but she said more funding is needed to secure the grounds into the future.
She said a project for trail-route works in a wooded area adjacent to the grounds has not come to fruition, but the plans are still in place, and she asked if this could open the door to work with Coillte on the matter, or if there is a funding mechanism available to carry out the protective and development works the club needs.
Cllr O’Connor-Scarteen said the field is in a wonderfully scenic location but that scenery alone won’t save it. Cllr McCarthy asked the Council if it could provide any expertise to assist the club.
The Council said, however, that this is essentially a private-property matter. It said the site would fall outside of OPW funding criteria due to its location in or near special environmental designations; it’s not replacing an existing erosion protection structure or providing additional protection to such a structure; and these are not emergency works whereby “imminent and substantial risk to human like or health exists or can be demonstrated”.
The local authority suggested sports-related capital funding might be the club’s best bet.
Chairperson Pat O’Neill said the club was “not terribly impressed” with the response, however.
“They pointed out that we did some work on it ourselves years back, but we paid for most of that out of our pocket…and we’re not exactly endowed with money,” he told The Kerryman. “We still have our operating costs but, like all clubs, the money isn’t coming in at the moment.”
“I don’t think it [sports capital funding] covers it at all. You might get money for goalposts, for a lawnmower, but I doubt very much we’d get any money for coastal erosion.
“It’s easy to say we should go here, there, and everywhere…red tape is a big problem. You do something along the coast, next thing you could be in big trouble, being asked did you have planning for this, for that. I was of the understanding that the Council had responsibility for the coastline…I would have thought an engineer might come out and tell us what we need to do.”
Mr O’Neill explained that, at one corner of the grounds, only a few metres stand between a fence and the sea.
He fears that “one big storm” could wreck vehicular access, and he pointed out that their stand is also on the coastline.
“It needs a big job, but a small job could buy a good bit of time,” he said.
“But can I go down there tomorrow with a JCB, and get a fella with a low-loader and tractor to draw stones for a day? That would probably solve the problem, but will somebody arrive out to us with a letter saying we transgressed?
“If that bank goes, it’s going to take a major job to replace it,” he said, adding that the club is a heartbeat in an area already facing down many challenges associated with rural life.