The Forgotten Jewel of the Kingdom

Dónal Fitzgerald and Nick Coveney examining the most recent consignment of illegal dumping at Tooreengarriv Glen on Friday morning. ©Photograph: John Reidy

Illegal dumping, bad roads and an air of neglect in the Knocknaboul, Tooreengarriv and Glountane areas have prompted residents, Dónal Fitzgerald and Nick Coveney into action.

They are out in their local area on an almost continuous basis with their litter pickers and refuse sacks. And while they can make a difference to the appearance of the place in what they’re doing, there are those who dump the kind of rubbish that needs a lot more that a litter picker to gather up.

Poet, Eugene O’Connell 

Co. Cork poet, Eugene O’Connell contacted me during the summer as he was saddened at the state of the areas mentioned above and he mentioned Glountane in particular.

Glountane is being as badly hit by illegal dumping and the worst part of it is that most of the stuff dumped there could have been recycled. I spotted lawnmowers and vacuum cleaners and bottle warmers during a trip out there on Friday.

Cllr Bobby O’Connell acts on issues of concern – according to Nick Coveney. ©Photograph: John Reidy

Thankful to Cllr Bobby

The following is an all encompassing article by Nick Coveney on all that ails the areas in question. During our meeting on Friday morning he suggested that hidden camera technology could be used as a weapon against those heartless and irresponsible enough to dump in these otherwise beautiful swathes of countryside.

Mr. Coveney is very grateful to Cllr. O’Connell and Kerry County Council staff in Castleisland. “Cllr. O’Connell always listens to the issues we raise with him and the council staff members are great to respond to our calls for help,” he said.

Look at a map of Kerry and follow the R577 out of Castleisland up into the hills beyond Scartaglen. Or go north from Castleisland up the Cordal Road which meets the R577 at the cross of Knocknaboul – the Hill of Holes.

By Nick Coveney

Just east of here, across the river in County Cork is the 1830’s model village of Ballydesmond, an anglicisation of Baile Deasumhan. Follow from here and you will pass the biggest employer in the region, Munster Joinery, to arrive in Knocknagree (Hill of the Horse Stud) and back west to the village of Gneeveguilla (Gniomh go Leith – a deed and a half) before returning to Scartaglen.

Now you have covered much of the beautiful areas of Slaibh Luachra and a little bit of Duhallow.

Stop, atop of a hill looking down the Scartaglen valley with incredible wild and windy views of Castlemaine Harbour, McGuillycuddy Reeks and the Dingle Peninsula – Inch beach if you are lucky on a clear day.

Wonderful Community Spirit

It is high but not remote and there is a wonderful community spirit in all of these villages.

There is a rich history in this area that can be traced back to 534 when it was first noted in the Annals of Inisfallen, with many historical events taking place between then and the present day. There are sites of historic ambushes and the site of the devastating “Runaway Bog” in the 19th century.

There is much to do here if you have the time – you can visit the historical sites, walk to the source of the Blackwater River, spend an afternoon in the Barna Bog with its unique wildlife habitats, enjoy a night at the Rambling House in Scartaglen, learn to set dance at the Old School House in

Foilagohig, enjoy a concert at Startrax Studios and top it off with a game of bridge and a Tai Chi session at Tureencahill Community Centre.

Treasures of the Area

These are some of the treasures of this area but it also faces significant challenges. Sadly with little consultation Windfarms have been erected.

In the last two years, 28 turbines have gone up in Cordal surrounding the source of the Blackwater and 13 in Scartaglen overlooking Barna Bog.

Planning is outstanding for a further 14 to run from Ballydesmond to Gneeveguilla with additional planning in place for a massive over ground battery storage unit which will facilitate the turbine blades to reach even higher speeds with the associated nuisance value.

Impact on Wildlife

Most of us fully support clean energy, and associated development so it is not a case of NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard). However these developments have been done to us rather than with us, with some local residents having their lives significantly impacted on by noise and light flicker, the predicted impact on wildlife will in time be apparent.

Since these windfarm developments began the whole area has, in the opinion of many in the community, taken on an ‘air of industrial neglect.’

Roads Ruined in Places

The roads have been ruined in places and not fully repaired. Although you have to have some sympathy with the council who do keep trying only to have it all dug up again for new cables or related works. We all understand work needs to go on to facilitate these developments but it has been literally years now since the roads were in a good state of repair.

The road signage is inadequate, the road markings are non existent in places particularly the yellow outside lines which are so important to night drivers in unlit areas such as this.

Obscured by Tarmac

Important notices like STOP signs (eg Knocknaboul Cross) have been obscured by tarmac creating a hazard as well as water pooling along the sides of the road as it has not been repaired or drained adequately. Yellow and Black dangerous bend signs are obscured in places as are directional signs as hedgerows are not maintained and trimmed. We don’t raise these issues from an aesthetic point of view – fatal accidents have already occurred in some of these places and in some cases regrettably it is an accident that hasn’t happened yet.

Domestic Waste and Nappies

Dumping of domestic waste and babies nappies has increased significantly – probably not related to windfarms as dumping is a problem across Kerry but we know from other places that this type of anti social activity is more prevalent in areas that appear neglected and uncared for. This is best

illustrated at Tureengarriv Bends on the R577 between Scartaglen and Knocknaboul Cross, where weekly dumping takes place.

Council Commended

The council environmental department should be commend for their response – they can be emailed at and they are very responsive and will come and collect it.

But surely prevention is better than cure – it needs a carrot and stick approach. Camera monitoring and fining the perpetrators and adequate signs, education and easy access to transfer stations to make it easy for people to do the right thing. Consistent dumping of babies nappies – beware this is a regular occurrence – has an horrendous effect.

Historic Ambush Site

Not only are they an environmental hazard, they cause a dreadful slow death in local wildlife as the gel swells in the stomach of animals attracted by the smell. We are more humane than this surely!

It is particularly sad at Turreengarriv Bends to see such dumping as it is the site of an historic ambush. There is a memorial to this event, the steps of which are partially blocked by a black and yellow warning sign for the bend.

The Scartaglen Valley

There is nowhere to park to read about the event on the brown historical sign.

We should be cherishing these sites, flying the tricolour and maintaining them to a high standard in the memory of those who died here to help create the delightful area we have today. Regrettably it is instead being used as a spot to slow down and dump soiled nappies.

If Tureengarriv Bends were part of the Ring of Kerry or Wild Atlantic Way, it would be a place tourists would be facilitated to stop to find out about the ambush, enjoy the views of the Scartaglen Valley and perhaps encouraged to drive a bit further on to admire the stunning vistas from Knocknaboul down to the sea and across to Carrantouhill.

Cordal Road Impacted

The Cordal Road, another area impacted by dumping, is made worse by the forestry that has been allowed to grow right to the edge of the road, cutting out light, making driving conditions dangerous, and falling trees causing road obstruction in high winds. The absence of sunlight prevents the road from drying out for the winter months causing ongoing frost damage and driving hazards.

The forestry owners should be asked to fell the trees for a few metres either side of the road before someone gets hurt.

Especially Dangerous

The Cordal Road is now especially dangerous as it has in recent weeks been resurfaced after years of works – which appear to be ongoing. It is now used as a high speed racetrack to cut through to Munster Joinery.

It needs speed warnings and signs about the dangerous bends. In the icy winter we’ve just had, it was fortuitous people living on the bends near the highest point didn’t have cars and lorries coming through their garden.

A Model Village

Ballydesmond Village, a model village designed and built to welcome traders travelling between Cork and Kerry, is another area where constant road works, pipe-laying and long overdue water improvement schemes have left the main street badly needing resurfacing. This is part of the main R577, again with no proper speed warning signs such as solar speed reminders with cars and lorries whizzing along this bad road at will. Slow down or stop for a coffee or a handmade sandwich and a bun in Kearney’s Centra!!

Many Other Examples

There are many other examples like these in Sliabh Luachra and Duhallow.

Residents have been forced to tolerate years of development in this hard working community, much of which is linked to windfarms.

No one wishes to ‘disneyfy’ the area – it is a largely agricultural community. However, much more thought and consultation could have been and could be put into these developments and the goodwill of the community should have been sought – where are the benefits to those who have to live with them?

Needs of a Community

For example why couldn’t broadband be included in all the trenches dug in our roads?

In summary, this community does not deserve to be a dumping ground for other peoples domestic rubbish or a development site for foreign investors.

We deserve to have the infrastructure to meet the needs of a community as would a community on the Ring of Kerry or the Wild Atlantic Way.

Our historical sites of interest should be made accessible and be testament to the memory of those who died there.

And as we cross the border from County Cork into the Kingdom, we deserve to see a sign that says ‘Welcome to Kerry’ that has been cleaned and has an ‘E’ replaced at the end of the word to complete the ‘Welcome,’

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