Kilkee Cliffs and Pollock Holes
The Heritage Council
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The Kilkee cliff walk can be accessed from the car park overlooking the world famous Pollock Holes at the west end of Kilkee town. This national loop walk has 5km or 8km options, following a cliff path along the coastline, passing the truly breath-taking and varied coastline from the truly remarkable Pollock Holes to the amphitheatre, with its tier upon tier of seat-like rocks; the Pink Caves; the nearby Diamond Rocks; Intrinsic Bay and Look Out Hill. The reefs are exposed to the full force of Atlantic swells from the west. The site is a SAC (Special Area of Conservation) selected for the following habitats; large shallow inlets and bays, reefs and sea caves.
At the beginning of the walk, next to the Pollock Holes is a Seamus Connolly’s bronze sculpture of the actor Richard Harris with racquet in hand. A version of racquetball has been played against the high sandstone walls in the West End for generations. Harris was an accomplished squash player, winning the Tivoli Cup in Kilkee four years in a row from 1948 to 1951, a record surpassed by nobody to this day.
The Pollock Holes are a famous bathing place in Kilkee. The three large, natural rock pools offer safe and sheltered swimming, in which the sea water is refreshed with every tide. At one time the pool closest to shore was for female bathers only, while the farthest one, Pollock Hole 3, was just for men. The reason the reef is called Pollock Holes is because small pollock take up residence in them for six months of the year. The pools vary in size from 20-50m and are between 1-2.5m in depth. There are many species of fish, weeds, corals and birds to be observed in the holes. As well as swimming in the pools, they are also used by snorkelers for training before taking up scuba diving. There are other spectacular dive locations along Kilkee’s coastal reef offering extensive marine life and great visibility in calm conditions. In fact Jacques Cousteau declared that it was the best place in Europe for diving, and one of the top five in the world.
The treacherous seas beyond Kilkee Bay have been the location of a number of shipwrecks over the years. On 30 January 1836 the Intrinsic, a ship from Liverpool bound for New Orleans, was blown into a bay near Bishops Island. The ship was dashed repeatedly against the cliffs and sank along with her crew of 14, of whom none survived. The bay closest to the shipwreck site is now called Intrinsic Bay. A chartered passenger sailing vessel named the Edmond sank at Edmond Point on 19 November 1850. The ship was sailing from Limerick to New York City but was driven into Kilkee Bay by a storm. As the tide was very high, the ship was driven all the way to Edmond Point, where it split in two. Of the 216 on board, 98 drowned in the disaster. Exactly 50 years to the day after the Intrinsic sank, on 30 January 1886, the Fulmar sank just north of Kilkee in an area known as Farrihy Bay. The ship was a cargo vessel transporting coal from Troon in Scotland to Limerick, but never reached its destination. Of the 17 crew members aboard only one body was ever recovered.
Resident birds along the cliffs include, breeding seagulls, Kestrel, Peregrine, Rock Dove, Raven, Chough, Fulmar, Shag, Skylark, Rock and Meadow Pipits. The common migrant breeders include Swift, Swallow, House Martin Wheatear, Whitethroat, and Sedge Warblers. Late October through to March of most years normally sees a small influx of northern gulls to the area with Glaucous and Iceland Gulls regular. Small flocks of Purple Sandpipers frequent the rocky outcrops. Great Northern Divers and auks like Razorbill and Black Guillemot can be seen at Moore Bay.
Scarce or rare birds seen in the locality include: Eider, Surf Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Sabine’s, Ring-billed and Yellow-legged Gulls, all four skuas, Little Auk, Waxwing, Golden Oriole, Turtle Dove, Black Redstart, Blackcap, Twite, Lapland and Snow Bunting.
Site Recommendations and Observations
Being a WAW Discovery Point, it is recommended that all proposed improvement measures, interpretation and recommendations tie into and compliment the official WAW interpretation proposals being undertaken by The Paul Hogarth Company and any proposed Failte Ireland site improvement or infrastructural measures.
It is recommended that adequate signage be provided from Kilkee Town to the start of the Kilkee Cliff Walks and entrance to the Pollock Holes.
Although the car park is relatively new and of high quality, it is highly recommended that additional parking should be considered during the peak season. Site observations noted that the car park was at full capacity on numerous days during the 2014 peak season with no available spaces and minimal turnover of spaces as people were leaving their vehicles there for extend period of time. A peak season parking and traffic count should confirm and quantify additional parking requirements.
The existing interpretation boards on the boardwalk adjacent to the car park are somewhat faded and are difficult to read. It is recommended that these could be repaired and/or updated/supplemented with additional interpretation material from this project and from the official WAW interpretation proposals being undertaken by The Paul Hogarth Company on behalf of Fáilte Ireland.
It is recommended that the provision of cycle parking should be considered at this site.
The following three statements apply to all site recommendations:
- ‘All proposals must comply with all planning, local authority and other statutory requirements.’
- ‘All proposals for development within, adjacent to or with the potential to affect a Natura 2000 site will be subject to an Appropriate Assessment Screening. To ensure that a Habitat Directive Assessment is carried out to assess the likely impacts on Natura 2000 sites in order to comply with Article 6(3) of the Habitat Directive and in accordance with the requirements of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011.’
- ‘All projects must be undertaken in accordance with the Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Points Remedial Works Guidelines, including the Ecological Method Statement.’
Sources of Information
1) Interview with Manuel Di Lucia
2) Newspaper articles
3) Online Research
- www.clare.ie www.npws.ie
Other Research and Facts
Kilkee Reefs SAC- http://www.npws.ie/media/npwsie/content/images/protectedsites/sitesynopsis/SY002264.pdf