Loop Head Heritage Trail Project Overview

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Loop Head AM0163_Rp001_F01_19.11.14 FINAL REPORT signed off.pdf
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Title

Loop Head Heritage Trail Project Overview

Description

The Heritage Officer of Clare County Council in partnership with Failte Ireland, the Heritage Council and Loop Head Tourism and chose Kilkee and Loop Head for a community based pilot project to develop a local heritage trail along this 60km section of the Wild Atlantic Way. The project aimed to promote a greater sense of understanding of our history, heritage, tourism, folklore and culture along the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) route by connecting with and placing the local community at the core of this and future WAW projects.

Creator

ActiveMe Heritage Services

Publisher

Clare County Council
The Heritage Council
Fáilte Ireland

Date

October 2014

Contributor

Jackie Whelan
Chriostoir MacCharthaigh
Trea Heapes
Carmel Madigan
Deirdre McCarthy
Laura Foley
Manuel Di Lucia
Stephen Rowen
Ailish Connolly
Marty Crotty
Gabriel Keating
Geoff McGee
Martin McKeown
Richard Gair
Congella MaGuire
Cillian Murphy

Rights

Full Rights. See signed release forms.

Identifier

WAW001_LH

Interpretation Summary Text

 

Loop Head WAW Site Interpretation Introduction and Summary

October 2014

 

Introduction

The Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) is Ireland’s exciting new signed scenic route stretching 2,500 miles from Donegal to West Cork. The route encourages visitors to experience Ireland’s incredible coastline, seascapes, history, heritage, culture, folklore and importantly local people and communities. With this in mind, the Heritage Office of Clare County Council in partnership with the Heritage Council, Failte Ireland and Loop Head Tourism and chose Kilkee and Loop Head for a community based pilot project which aims to develop a local heritage trail for Loop Head. The objective is to promote a greater sense of understanding of our history, heritage, folklore and culture along this section of Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) route by connecting with and placing the local community of Loop Head and Kilkee at the core of all heritage site interpretation. The overall project aim is to consult with the local community to produce and display design ready interpretation content for the proposed heritage trail on the Loop Head peninsula and store it on an easy to use project database.

 

Loop Head offers the visitor spectacular and differing landscapes, with the Shannon Estuary on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. The interpretations focus on the landscape, history and unique aspects of the site and are explained to give the visitor a local’s insight into the sites. The unique aspects cover topics such as geology, flora, fauna, and maritime heritage, built heritage, religious sites, military heritage, folklore and early tourism. A summary of the interpretations under these headings are recorded below.

 

Geological Landscape

The geology at Loop Head is unique and draws geologist from all over the world to the area. The rocks at Loop Head represent the type section of the Upper Carboniferous Ross Sandstone Formation. This formation consists of alternating, parallel bedded sandstones and dark shale. The cliff-face rock formations on the southwest and north sides of the peninsula trace the evolution of a great river delta during the Upper Carboniferous Period, about 320 million years ago when Clare was located close to the equator and was part of the great land mass, Pangea.

 

The natural sea arch at the Bridges of Ross gives the site its name. There was originally a trio of spectacular natural sea arches, until two of them gradually fell into the sea in the last hundred years. Current formations were created by later movements of the earth’s plates which folded and tilted the beds of sedimentary rock.

 

A spectacular cliff walk begins at the west end of the town of Kilkee and follows a cliff path along the coastline. There is the option of a five or eight kilometre looped walk. The Cliff scenery is truly breathtaking and varied from the unique pollock holes (three natural rock pools) 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.

 

Fauna

The mouth of the Shannon, Ireland’s largest river and a natural heritage hotspot is a designated SAC (Special Area of Conservation) for a number of habitats and a SPA (Special Protected Area) for a number of bird species. Migrant and resident birds are attracted to Loop Head because of its mild Atlantic winters, an abundance of wetlands, rich feeding grounds and undisturbed coastal cliffs. The headland near Loop Head lighthouse is the end of major flyways of birds migrating south for the winter from North America, Greenland, Iceland and the Arctic. At the Bridges of Ross, the area is low lying and seabirds pass very close to shore, if not over your head during autumn migration. The area is regarded as one of the best bird watching sites in Europe. Visible to the west from Dunlicky Point is a small inaccessible island called Illaunonearaun located approximately 300m off the coast that is a designated SPA (Special Protected Area) because the island is a regular haunt for wintering Barnacle Geese.

 

There are about 200 dolphins living in the Shannon Estuary and calves are born every year. There are three main areas that the dolphins frequent, where they eat mackerel, herring and salmon, depending on the season. What makes this area so special is that the river Shannon flows in from the midlands, bringing nutrients from the bogs and meets water from the Atlantic, rich in plankton.

 

The shoreline at Ross beach is home to many creatures and seaweeds that thrive in this undisturbed semi-sheltered shore. Among the species in the lower shore and rock pools include sea anemones and limpets. 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.

 

Flora

There are three distinctive flora landscapes evident in Loop Head. Firstly, the hedgerows at Loop Head are distinctive; there are few trees at Loop Head so the hedgerows are exposed to a lot of light. The open ditches outside the hedgerows also encourage tall marsh loving flora. Over 100 species have been identified in the Loop Head hedgerows. Secondly, in contrast, the salty shingle environment with thin soils at Rinevella and Querrin provide a completely different habitat to the hedgerow flora. The salt loving flora includes sea aster, common scurvy grass, and cow parsley and sea rock milkwort. Thirdly, the peat landscape at the tip of Loop Head and at the Bridges of Ross results in the flora footprint being dominated by a maritime grasslands landscape. The peat loving plants include a variety of heathers. The pretty and delicate flora grows smaller here than in other places out of necessity to survive the exposed, windswept environment.

 

At Rinevella Bay, Portach Bailte, lies an ancient submerged forest which is visible at low tide. A submerged forest is where the remains of a forest lie submerged beneath a body of water. This forest is one of a number of submerged scots pine forests in the estuary; some of which have been dated to Neolithic (4000-2500BC) period. These forests were covered by peat and estuarine clays in the late Iron Age (300AD) and provide paleo-environmental evidence that allows us to reconstruct these ancient landscapes. The Neolithic landscape along the Shannon estuary would have been highly attractive to prehistoric communities with many food sources in the mixed landscape of estuarine waters, woods and marches.

 

Maritime History

County Clare’s maritime tradition has been an integral part of local communities for many years, especially true of the communities at Loop Head. In recognition of this, Clare Traditional Boats and Currachs Study was commissioned and published in 2008. Its findings examined the distribution, diversity and social intricacies of Clare’s boats and currachs, as well as contextualising their profound role in Clare’s history and culture.

 

The piers at Camogue, Querrin, Kilbaha and Carrigaholt constructed in the 19th century, were built in response to the large scale commercial fishing that the locals were engaged in at the time. For example, in 1842, there were at least 50 currachs, 15 bigger boats and another 15 trading boats operating from Querrin. In 1837, it is recorded that at Carrigaholt up to 400 locals were employed at the pier and six hookers, of seven tons each, and upwards of 500 currachs were active near the pier.

 

Limerick port was a trading port from the 9th century, with huge expansion in the 12th century. Therefore there were many boats and ships passing along the estuary and navigating the shoreline. The piers at Cammogue, Portnasherry, Querrin, Carrigaholt and Kilbaha were among those built to cater for the large numbers of people making their living from fishing, seaweed gathering and piloting the large ships going up the Shannon to Limerick docks. There have also been over a hundred recorded shipwrecks around the peninsula.

 

Under an Act of Parliament of 1823 the Limerick Bridge Commissioners (Later Harbour Commissioners) were given authority for the administration of pilotage on the River Shannon. For operational reasons the pilotage body was divided into two divisions, Western and Eastern. The Western Pilots were based in the Kilbaha and Carrigaholt areas and serviced the ships using canoes until a two masted sailing ketch was purchased in 1875 after the death of five pilots from Kilbaha.

 

Built Heritage

Carrigaholt Castle, now in ruins, is the former residence of MacMahon family who built the castle around 1480. The MacMahons were the chiefs of the Corcabascin Peninsula, the old name for Loop Head. Like most medieval tower houses, this was strategically located for defensive purposes. It is located at the end of the fishing pier overlooking the Shannon Estuary and the harbour, providing an excellent view up and down the bay or Estuary. As well as their main residence at Carrigaholt, the MacMahons built Dunlicky Castle also known as Doonlicka, sometime before 1574. This castle was located close to Kilkee on the edge of a cliff and may have been built to reinforce the MacMahon’s control over the peninsula.  Similar to Carrigaholt, the castle at Dunlicky was a tower house. It had an earth bank running along the majority of the cliff edge, which may not have been purely defensive but may have provided protection from the high winds. This was not the most hospitable place to live and by 1675, it was described as being in ruins.

 

Dunlicky Castle was built on the site of a much older promontory fort and there were nine of these forts doted along the coastline at Loop Head. These sites were created by the erection of earthen or stone ramparts across the necks of headlands, forming promontory forts. These forts were built primarily for defence or refuge purposes and vary greatly in size. Though generally assigned to the Iron Age, they can vary widely in date from c.1000 BC to 1700 AD and usually have the element dún, meaning fort, in their names, such as here at Dunlicky.

 

The Loop Head Peninsula has one of the highest densities of ringforts in any part of Ireland, with over 240 ringforts recorded on the peninsula.  A ringfort is a circular raised space, enclosed by a ditch and external bank. More prominent ringforts have two or three external banks and ditches.  The majority of ringforts were constructed in a three hundred-year period from the beginning of the seventh century to the end of the ninth century. They was mostly built in clusters and functioned as farmsteads engaged in pastoral farming.

 

Loop Head Lighthouse is located at the tip of the Loop Head Peninsula which is the furthest point west on the Clare coastline. The setting of the lighthouse is spectacular with the wild Atlantic coastline on one side contrasting with the sheltered Mouth of the Shannon on the other side. There has been a lighthouse at Loop Head since 1670.

 

Religious Heritage

There is evidence of early monastic settlement on Loop Head. At Querrin Pier, the visitor can see Scattery Island, home to a 6th century monastic site, founded by St. Senan, who was born locally. The site contains the ruins of six churches and has one of the largest round towers in Ireland at 120 feet in height but unusually its door is at ground level. In the townland of Kilcredaun, there are the remains of two early single cell Christian churches, associated buildings and a holy well. The townland of Kilcredaun is named after St. Credaun, who apparently was a disciple of St. Senan.

 

Bishop’s Island is an example of a sea stack, a geological landform consisting of a steep, often vertical column of rock in the sea near the coast. Sometime in the last thousand years Bishop’s Island was connected to the mainland. Over the years, the force of the water has weakened cracks in the headland, causing them to collapse forming this free-standing sea stack. What makes this site unique is that there are the remains of a church, a clochaun (beehive hut) and the ruins of 3-4 other buildings on the sea stack.

 

In the 19th century, in spite of Catholic Emancipation the Protestant landlords of Loop Head refused permission for the building of a Catholic Church on their land.  In 1852 Father Michael Meehan came up with the solution of building a wooden box on wheels, with an altar inside which could be rolled onto the beach at Kilbaha at low tide as the sea shore was considered no man's land. For five years, masses, baptisms, weddings and funerals took place at the Little Ark before permission to build a church was granted in 1857. The unique Little Ark has been preserved and can be seen in an annex to the existing church at Moveen, originally dedicated to Our Lady, Star of the Sea but more commonly known as the Church of the Little Ark.

 

Military Heritage

There are the remains of six Napoleonic Period batteries located in the Shannon Estuary, including at Doonaha and Kilcredaun. There were Napoleonic French invasion plans to access and invade Britain from the west of Ireland. The Mouth of the Shannon was one of the three invasion areas included in the French Directory's instructions to Vice- Admiral Villaret de Loveuse in October 1796, during the preparations of an expedition to Ireland and the batteries were constructed to ensure the seas leading to Limerick were adequately monitored and protected.

 

There are three Lookout Posts (so called LOPs) in Loop Head, one at Kilcredaun, one at Loop Head and one at Corbally, north of Kilkee. These World War 2 lookout posts or LOPs were located 15km apart and local people was employed at them to report any unusual activity in the sea or air that might affect neutral Ireland’s safety. There is also a restored EIRE sign located at Loop Head. During World War 2, there were 85 EIRE signs placed along the western Irish seaboard so that American and German pilots knew that there was passing over neutral territory. At the bequest of the Americans each sign was also given a number so that the pilots might know where exactly they were, an early GPS system.

 

The Irish Famine

Loop Head was among the areas worst hit by the Great Irish Famine between 1845 and the early 1850s. The local population was decimated by the devastating impacts of the famine. As well as the many deaths by starvation, many people were evicted by the landlords and there was widespread emigration. Between December 1849 and February 1850, the Illustrated London News carried a lengthy seven-part series entitled Condition of Ireland: Illustrations of the New Poor-Law, illustrated by a total of eighteen sketches, which mainly focused on the Kilrush Union and showed graphically the devastating efforts of the famine in this region.

 

In 1841, the village of Tullig had a population of 269 people and there was 50 houses recorded. It had a bustling fishing and seaweed industry. The village of Tullig was completely wiped out by the famine and there are no remains of this once bustling village to be seen. In 1849 the Illustrated London News printed a picture of the then deserted and desolate village.

 

There was a ferry disaster on 12th December 1849, when those seeking relief at the workhouse in Kilrush took the ferry from Cammoge Pier. They had come from the western parishes of Kilballyowen and Moyarta but didn’t receive relief at the workhouse that day and were turned away. On the return journey, the ferry sunk and 41 victims drowned, no doubt partly because they were too weak to swim ashore. A memorial to those that died is located at the ferry crossing at Cammoge and was unveiled as part of the National Famine Commemoration in 2013.

 

Folklore

There were a number of local legends revealed during interviews and research for this project. Folklore suggests that St. Senan fought the sea serpent for control of Scattery Island. The sea serpent is a common figure in local legend in the area.

 

There is a local myth that an earthquake around the fifth century submerged a village called Cill Stuifín in Rinevella bay. The legend is that this so called hidden city is inhabited by fairies and can be glimpsed every seven years but will bring bad luck to anyone who has the misfortune to see it.

 

At the edge of the peninsula, there is a sea stack known as Diarmuid & Grainne's rock, or Lover’s Leap. The mythical Diarmuid and Grainne were running around Ireland, trying to escape from Fionn, Grainne’s betrothed. The legend is that they spent a night on this rock. Loop Head was originally called Leap Head or Ceann Léime. This name goes back to the 9-10th century and originates with the folklore story of Cúchulainn. The hag or witch Mal was chasing Cúchulainn around Ireland. If she managed to touch him, he was to fall in love with her. In his efforts to prevent this and escape Mal, Cúchulainn jumped across to the sea stack and Mal followed. Cúchulainn jumped back to the mainland but Mal fell into the sea. Her body was said to have washed up at Hag’s Head near the Cliffs of Moher. There is also a connection with nearby town Milltown Malbay, called after Mal; whose blood it is said washed ashore there.

 

There is a local legend relating to the name Bishop’s Island, a sea stack with monastic remains. A bishop, apparently attempting to escape the Irish famine, brought food to the island. He became trapped on the sea stack and starved to death. The sea stack was subsequently named Oilean an Easpoig Gortaigh, the island of the hungry bishop.

 

Land Redistribution

From 1885, the Land Commission set about redistributing land from landlord to tenant. Their method of redistribution often involved dividing the land into long narrow fields. These distinctive field systems are still evident in Loop Head, especially at Corbally, north of Kilkee, where the long, thin field systems cover the landscape.

 

19th Century Tourism

At the beginning of the 1800s, Kilkee was just a small fishing village. There was a large aristocratic community in Limerick who because of the Napoleonic Wars couldn’t take the Grand Tour of Europe. They were looking for an alternative. Kilkee offered them the natural amenities and bathing areas so coveted at the time. They were also drawn to the area’s unique climate. The air here benefits from the west winds journey across the broad expense of the Atlantic Ocean being warmed by the Gulf Stream. In the 1820s a paddle steamer service from Limerick to Kilrush was launched providing easier access to Kilkee. In the 1830s Kilkee expanded to accommodate the numerous wealthy visitors from Ireland and overseas and this is when many of Kilkee’s Victorian buildings originate. Gradually the town grew as wealthy merchants from Limerick wanted holiday homes by the sea, resulting in a building boom in the 1830s. As demand for lodgings in Kilkee grew, several hotels were built.

 

The West Clare Railway line was opened in 1893 and its initial timetable consisted of three daily trains between Ennis and Kilkee, with a branch line connection to Kilrush. The railway line provided a gateway to the Loop Head Peninsula for tourists and business alike, allowing for easier transportation of goods and services. By the turn of the century, there were five daily trains and approximately 250,000 passengers and 80,000 tonnes of freight and livestock carried on the West Clare Railway annually.

General Sources of Information

General Sources

1)       Clare Library

2)       Guide Books: Lonely Planet and Rough Guides

3)       Older Guide Books

4)       Local History Publications and Talks

5)       Archaeology Publications

6)       Geology Publications

7)       Newspapers: The Clare Champion, The Clare People, The Limerick Leader

8)       Leaflets from The Heritage Council, Clare County Council, National Parks & Wildlife

9)       CSO Census Data

10)    Existing Interpretation Signage

  • Pilots Memorial
  • Grave of the Yellow Men
  • Loop Head
  • West Clare Railway

11)    Websites

12) Interviews with

  • Jackie Whelan
  • Christoir MacCharthaigh
  • Trea Heapes
  • Carmel Madigan
  • Deirdre McCarthy
  • Laura Foley
  • Manuel Di Lucia
  • Stephen Rowen
  • Ailish Connolly
  • Marty Crotty
  • Gabriel Keating
  • Geoff McGee
  • Martin McKeown
  • Richard Gair

 

Existing and Proposed Routes GPS

All surveyed established and potential walking, cycling and driving routes have been stored in the www.gpsies.com website for ease of gpx file display. ActiveMe have set up a profile for Loop Head Tourism. Login details include; username: LoopHeadTourism, password: loophead. Click this icon to access and view all surveyed routes. 
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Madia Release Forms

Saved as separate private item in database

Executive Summary

The objective of this project is to promote a greater sense of understanding of our history, heritage, folklore and culture along this section of Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) route by connecting with and placing the local community of Loop Head and Kilkee at the core of all heritage site interpretation.

 The project study area section of the WAW route comprises the entire Loop Head peninsula in addition to the town of Kilkee and village of Moyasta. It covers an area of approximately 212km2, over 60km of the WAW route on Loop Head and contains 4no. WAW Discovery Points.

Final Project Report

Saved as separate file

Final Z-Card Map designs

Saved as separate file

Heritage Categories

Archaeology
Built Heritage
Geology
Maritime History
Military History
Flora
Fauna
Famine
Tourism

Heritage Designations

SPA
SAC
Protectures Structures
National Monuments
Blue Flag Beaches
Scenic Views
European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) in aquatic tourism 

Community Consultation Recommendations

It is recommended that a structured schedule of community consultation and feedback be implemented throughout the project timeline to ensure that the community is at the core of all interpretations, proposals, decision making and final deliverables.

The community consultation methodology used in this project firmly places the local community of Loop Head and Kilkee as the primary source of all heritage interpretation with up to 80% of all site interpretation material originating from these interviews with local people.  

The community consultation and interviews add significant value to the project and interpretation of each site by revealing new interesting local stories and unique information.

It is recommended that the first role of community consultation is the quick identification of all potential heritage trail sites during the initial community consultation at the project outset. This ensures that all other project tasks can begin with minimal project delay encountered.

Site Assessment and Identification Recommendations

To agree the final list of suitable sites for the heritage trail, it is recommended that all potential sites be firstly evaluated and assessed in terms of their importance and potential as a heritage site and secondly based on a number of engineering criteria including access, road width, road safety, road condition, speed limit, driver visibility, vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists), parking, signage, passing opportunities, and vehicle turning.

Based on this assessment, sites that are deemed currently unsuitable for interpretation and inclusion on the trail should be omitted and the final list of sites identified. If justified, it is recommended that infrastructural improvement measures should be considered for important sites omitted at this stage. 

When deciding your final list of sites, it is recommended to step back from the process and put yourself in the position of a visitor, rather than someone who knows the area or project very well and is too close to its history and heritage. A visitor must be able to stop, park and turn their car safely at the site and be able to see and understand each site clearly from the interpretation location. 

As with any destination, local community consultation will uncover a multitude of interesting stories and heritage sites, all of which are valuable on their own right. However, it is recommended that only the most valuable sites are chosen for inclusion on the main Heritage Trail proposal. The inclusion of minor sites relative to other sites on the trail may dilute the potential tourism impact and consistency of the interpretation material on the heritage trail.

Site Research and Data Collection Recommendations

 

Once the final list of sites has been agreed, it is recommended that detailed site research be carried out in a systematic and efficient manner including desktop research, identify existing literature and online sources of information, field research and site surveys for each site.

Once all site research has been complete, it is recommended to collect, collate and archive key data in the relevant database fields.

Community Interviews and Consultation Recommendations

To compliment and supplement the factual site research, it is recommended that interviews be undertaken with local community members who live or work in the area. This stage of community consultation is extremely important and can reveal extremely valuable local information which does not exist in existing literature or online sources thereby adding significant value to the interpretation of each site.

Recording interviews of locals talking about these Heritage Sites firmly places the local community at the core of heritage interpretation in the project.

Local community members listening to people they know talk passionately and knowledgeably about the local heritage of the area helps them engage with the project and importantly with the WAW. 

Although only 10 interviews were proposed as part of the original tender, it became apparent early in the project that more than 10 interviews were required to ensure full coverage so that each site had at least one recorded clip.

Therefore, it is recommended that future projects should incorporate an appropriate number of interviews into the proposed project budget and timescale to reflect the potential number of final sites on the trail.

Route Surveys Recommendations

It is recommended that only existing established routes and those with a high potential of being implemented should be surveyed as part of the project. These may include walking, cycling or drive routes. 

It is recommended that contact be made with all relevant personnel and departments regarding existing and potential routes before survey work is undertaken to reduce any duplication of work if GPS route information is already available.

As part of this project both established and potential routes were surveyed and GPS files created for future use on smartphone Apps, website and other online map features.

It must be clearly understood that many of the potential walking routes digitally surveyed as part of the project are not formal walking routes and are on private lands with no public access. Therefore it is essential that these walks are not promoted as public walking routes until public access is permitted. This route survey information for potential sites should only be used to progress with future proposals and dialogue with local land owners and stakeholders.

It is recommended that the entire Wild Atlantic Way route be digitally surveyed and mapped to create a GPX file and a variety of file formats. This will ensure that correct file formats and information will be available for use on digital mapping, online maps, Apps, websites, SAT NAVS and other software. It will also allow an accurate confirmation of the entire WAW route length and side loops.

Site Interpretation Recommendations

Only after all site research, community consultation and community interviews have taken place can site interpretation commence. Any research or interview (whether the first or last to be recorded) may uncover local and interesting facts and stories about some or all sites. Therefore, it is recommended that the project timeline should factor in the completion of the majority of project tasks before site interpretation commences.

It is recommended that new and original interpretive text be clear, concise, interesting and importantly easy to read and understand.

It is recommended that the interpretation texts for each site be presented in different length versions (number of words) to suit various media and future tourism products:

  • Full Interpretation Text (unlimited words)
  • Short Text (up to 50 words) for Print Maps with restricted space
  • Medium Text (50-150 words) for Apps, Websites & other similar media

For a successful interpretation, it is recommended that you avoid where possible; Excessive information (padding and waffle),  Detailed facts, Complicated descriptions, Long descriptive passages or sentences, Local dialect or slang, Extravagant or flowery language, unfamiliar words and finally Academic facts, words and terms.  

It is important to highlight that the use of new and original text (plus different versions) on websites, social media and other online platforms will have a significant positive impact in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). In simple terms, Google algorithms love new and original text and can reward you, by ranking your page/text higher in google search results (possibly in the first page of results). 

It is recommended that any future WAW heritage trail projects include a budget for an ecologist as part of the project team to address the natural heritage elements of the project.

With this in mind, it is also recommended that natural heritage be further investigated on Loop Head as part of a separate but complimentary project.

Project Database Recommendations

The primary aim of the project is to create an easy to use database to display the interpretation content for each heritage site collected through community consultation. Paying close attention to this aim, it is recommended that only essential content be stored in the database.

Once all tasks are complete, only then is it recommended to save all interpretation content to the relevant sections of the database. 

In order to effectively manage and maintain the database into the future, it is recommended that one project partner be allocated to manage and administer the database in the long term giving certain responsibilities to other assigned users within the steering group and local community.

It is recommended that ‘non administrative’ access to the project database and content be made available to the community to promote the WAW Loop Head Heritage Trail.

Interpretative Signage and Information Recommendations

It is recommended that the location of interpretative proposals, signage or boards must be obvious and intuitive to visitors arriving at each site by car, bike or on foot and also suitably located to help the visitor understand, orientate and view their surroundings while reading the interpretative text.

One example of innovative interpretation which may be suitable for a number of sites on Loop Head would be the use of engraved Perspex glass. This would allow the visitor to ‘see’ the site and other locations on the landscape through the glass with their own eyes. It may be useful for showing visitors where to look and what they are looking at (i.e. previous location of a castle, position of points of interest on the far off landscape such as islands, mountains and other counties/counties across the sea).

It is also recommended that any site interpretation should be consistent for all sites in terms of design, size and branding and should tie into the existing designs and branding for WAW signs and interpretation.

Although it is crucial that physical interpretation of a site does not impact, interfere or stand out in the surrounding landscape (i.e. large signs blocking scenic views), tastefully designed and innovative interpretation can also become iconic (a recognisable tourist brand) and help the promotion and marketing of an area by encouraging and attracting visitors to use the site interpretation signs in their photos and video and post them online where they are instantly recognisable.

The Interpretation should help the visitor orientate themselves, locate the island and view what Island looked like in the past.

Considering the current investment in this and other projects on Loop Head and on the WAW, it is recommended that the next natural step would be to undertake a trial project to install physical interpretation at sites on the proposed Loop Head heritage trail including adequate roads signage, the design of which would be undertaken by suitable consultants. This hard infrastructure could include interpretation boards, signs, name plates and other designs and should be consistent with the overall WAW interpretation proposals in terms of materials used and type of information presented.

With this hard infrastructure on the ground, it is also recommended to consider a variety of methods to get information into people’s pockets such as the use of websites, social media, QR codes and other methods on the physical interpretation. Importantly, once in place, it is critical that proposed interpretation measures be monitored to analyse their performance in terms of delivering information to visitors (via App downloads, website visits via QR codes, and other methods).

With this in mind, it is also recommended that baseline traffic and pedestrian/cycle surveys be undertaken at selected sites and on the WAW route itself. Once complete, it is then recommended to repeat these surveys annually in order to accurately monitor the performance of the WAW. Due to the rural nature of Loop Head and the fact that it is a natural loop on the WAW route, it is an ideal location to monitor WAW visitor numbers and performance.

Road Signage Recommendations

For the visitor, it is essential that navigating the WAW and proposed Heritage Trail around Loop Head is easy and stress free and that directional signage is clear and in the necessary and correct locations.  

The majority of the proposed Loop Head Heritage Trail follows the current signed WAW route and only deviates for short distances to gain access to the local Heritage Sites such as Querrin Pier, Kilcredaun, Rinevella and the Church of the Little Ark and therefore, adequate and consistent signage must be provided to direct visitors to these sites. It is anticipated that this will also be the case for any future WAW Heritage Trails around the country.

To ensure a consistent signage, logos and branding for the tourist, WAW style signage for local Heritage Trails should be considered. 

With this in mind, it is recommended that specific WAW signage and other marketing material for the proposed Heritage Trail should tie into the existing Wild Atlantic Way and Loop Head Branding which can be incorporated into the interpretation at the site, on maps, Apps and other tourism products.

It is recommended that a full review of existing and proposed road signage be undertaken to identify exact locations where signage is required to provide a consistent, easy to follow routes around Loop Head.

At present, the main directional route signage on loop Head includes:

  • The WAW
  • Loop Head Scenic Drive
  • Loop Head Cycle Loop

To optimise signage on Loop Head it is recommended that consideration be given to replacing or updating existing Loop Head Scenic Drive Signage with signage for the proposed Heritage Trail.

The location and design of directional road signage must be in accordance with the NRA document Traffic Signs Manual and the Clare County Development Plan 2011 to 2017 whilst also taking into account branding and sign specifications for the WAW and Loop Head.

Making sites easy to find and get to will make the WAW and Loop Head experience more enjoyable for visitors, give them more confidence and leave them with a good impression of the local area and WAW route in general, leading to positive reviews, repeat visits and recommendations to friends.

In addition to the provision of directional road signs and interpretation information, it is also recommended that an ‘Arrival Sign’ be provided at each site. As many of these sites are in rural locations, it is essential that it is visually obvious to the visitor that they have arrived at a particular site. If possible, it is also recommended that the design of these arrival signs should be consistent along this heritage trail and along the entire WAW.

Existing Road Condition and Width Recommendations

The existing road network on Loop Head is rural in nature with restricted road width on the vast majority of the WAW and proposed Heritage Trail route. These existing road conditions act as a natural traffic calming measures resulting in average observed vehicle operating speeds in the region of 50kph. The roads on the peninsula form a natural and unique loop on the WAW route and are not ‘through’ roads used for commuting or part of the national primary or secondary road network. 

With this in mind, it is recommended that consideration be given to undertaking a further study and survey work for the introduction of a trial 50kph speed limit on Loop Head. With actual vehicle operating speeds on Loop Head already in the region of this recommended 50kph speed limit, there would be a minimal impact on existing non-WAW motorists. However, this recommended trail project would have a significant positive impact on the value placed on pedestrians and cyclists on Loop Head and the WAW. This unique pilot measure would be a first on the WAW, should greatly improve road conditions and road safety for these vulnerable road users and would be easy to implement as a trial and monitor whether it is successful or not.  

Due to the locations of some heritage sites, visitors must drive, cycle and walk on local rural roads some of which are in poor and sub-standard condition with evidence of potholes, rutting and edge deterioration. It is recommended that a pavement condition survey be undertaken on Loop Head to identify key locations where road improvements are required.

Where road width is restricted, it is recommended that intervisable ‘passing’ bays be considered in appropriate locations to ensure that vehicles can safely pass each other.

WAW Discovery Points and Fáilte Ireland project Recommendations

It is recommended that the design ready interpretation content developed as part of this project should be used to compliment, influence and tie in with separate interpretation proposals for all Discovery Points along the WAW being prepared by consultants on behalf of Failte Ireland.

Walking Route Recommendations

From a review of all sites, there are many existing established walks and also locations with potential to develop major and minor walking trails on Loop Head peninsula. Walking routes add significant value to the visitor experience for any tourism destination but especially in conjunction with an official heritage trail whereby they will encourage people from their car to spend more time on Loop Head. From cliff walks to beach walks and from strolls down county lanes to exploring rich heritage, there are numerous opportunities available to promote walking tourism on Loop Head.

The Kilkee Cliff Walk is unique in Ireland, offering freedom to the visitor to taste and experience the real WAW. This route is promoted in many areas but there are many other obvious locations for potential signed walking routes in the study area. A number of walking routes with potential (overlooking any access issues for this survey task itself) have been digitally surveyed and their GPS files are linked to in the database.

It must be clearly understood that many of the potential walking routes digitally surveyed as part of the project are not formal walking routes and are on private lands with no public access. Therefore it is essential that these walks are not promoted as public walking routes until public access is permitted. The route survey information for potential sites should only be used to progress with future proposals and dialogue with local land owners and stakeholders.

It is recommended that further investigation, dialogue and development work undertaken at some or all of the following routes:

  • Loop Head Walks (short and long loop) - Surveyed
  • Kilkee Cliffs to Bishops Island (Surveyed) and Dunlicka Castle
  • Kilkee Cliffs Walk (4km short  and 8km long loops) - Surveyed 
  • Kilkee Cliffs Walk to Loop Head 
  • Loop Head to Bridges of Ross – 9km Surveyed
  • Loop Head to Kilbaha Loop – 15km
  • Corbally and Coosheen Loop Walk – Various routes available
  • Kilkee Town to Pollock Holes – 3km Surveyed
  • Kilkee Town Heritage Walk
  • Querrin Pier to the Island (6km) - Surveyed
  • Kilcredaun (Guided Route Only)
  • Beach, Bay and Road Walks
    • Rinevella and Kilbaha
    • Querrin Pier to the Island
  • Georges Head / Kilkee Golf Course - Surveyed
  • Corbally to Farrihy Bay
  • Donegal Point Walk - Surveyed
  • Walks developed on or adjacent to old railway lines

As with many walking route proposals in Ireland, access can often be an issue. It is therefore recommended that any walking route proposal must take a practical approach, working closely and starting meaningful dialogue with local landowners and state agencies whilst acknowledging the wide economic benefits measures like these can achieve in a short period from local accommodation, food and drink, transport, local guides, route maintenance funding and much more.

All surveyed established and potential walking, cycling and driving routes have been stored in the database and displayed via the www.gpsies.com website for ease of gpx file display. ActiveMe have set up a profile for Loop Head Tourism. Login details include; username: LoopHeadTourism, password: loophead. All potential walking routes on private lands are set as ‘private’ with information only available to view by Loop Head Tourism when logged in.

It is recommended that consideration be given to creating a continuous off-road cliff walk from Kilkee to Loop Head. A walk of this type could also help created jobs whereby a shuttle services could drop visitors to Loop Head and they then walk back to Kilkee. A similar walk should also be considered on the Shannon estuary side using quiet roads and beaches where possible whilst also taking account of private lands and access.

Cycling Route Recommendations

The WAW is not just a scenic driving route; it is also an ideal cycling route and forms an ideal loop route around the peninsula for cyclists.  

It is therefore recommended that the provision of cycle parking should be considered at all sites on this WAW heritage trail.

It is recommended that the existing signage plan, route guidance and sign provision be reviewed for the existing Loop Head Cycleway Route. 

Loop head is blessed with an abundance of rural county roads, all of which are suitable for leisurely tourist cycling and exploration of Loop Head.  It is therefore recommended that variety of options and shorter cycle loops should also be considered using both print/online maps combined with minimal signage (walking style posts with coloured arrows representing various route lengths around loop head).  As part of this project ActiveMe have surveyed cycle route options including:

  • Loop Head Cycleway Signed Route – 65km+ Surveyed
  • Loop Head Cycleway Signed Route incl. Moyasta – 73km+ Surveyed
  • 6 Route Options of various lengths –  15 to 70km Surveyed

Increased demand for guided cycle tourism and bike hire could be one of the resulting economic benefits of these recommendations and bring added value to the Loop Head Heritage Trail. The provision of Bicycle Hubs providing self-service cycle repair facilities should also be considered on Loop Head.

Site Access Recommendations

A number of sites on the trail are fully open to the public (Public Access), while others are located on lands owned privately with the remainder publically owned and under the guardianship of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG). Therefore public access and land ownership can be an issue for some sites:

-         West Clare Railway: Privately owned with Public Access during opening hours only.

-         Blackweir Bridge: Public Access

-         Querrin Pier: Public Access

-         Doonaha: On Private Lands. Multiple owners subject to change.

-         Carrigaholt Castle: No public access allowed. The Castle is publically owned under the Guardianship of the DEHLG (monument no. 427). Public access to the area overlooking the bay and castle.

-         Kilcredaun: Restricted Public Access. These sites are on private lands with access only by appointment and with a permitted guide. Multiple land owners are subject to change.

-         Rinevella: Public Access.

-         Grave of the Yellow Men: Public Access.

-         Kilbaha Bay and Pilots Memorial: Public Access.

-         Little Ark, Kilbaha Chruch: Public Access. Church is part of the Kilballyowen Parish and Killaloe Diocese.

-         Loop Head: Public Access to the lighthouse and grounds during opening hours controlled by The Commissioners of Irish Lights. The surrounding lands on Loop Head are publically owned under the guardianship of the DEHLG as a Special Protection Area for the conservation of Wild Birds site code no.4119. 

-         Bridges of Ross: Public Access.

-         Dunlicka Castle: Public Access.

-         Bishops Island: Public Access to lands overlooking the island.

-         Kilkee Cliffs: Public Access.

-         Kilkee Town: Public Access.

Where sites are located on lands owned privately, ownership details are subject to change over time. Sites can also be located overs large sections of land owned by multiple landowners. It is therefore recommended that land ownership details be confirmed when communication, dialogue and proposals are ready to begin. 

Where public access issues exist, it is recommended that dialogue should be initiated as soon as possible between all stakeholders, tenants and landowners regarding public access to the site. It is hoped that most of the issues can be resolved through constructive dialogue.

Where sites are publically owned in state care, they can be looked after in a partnership of the National Monument Services of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Office of Public Works (OPW). The conservations and preservation of these sites are managed by the OPW, with the DEHLG responsible for archaeological aspects.

Parking Recommendations

Car and Cycle Parking design should conform to standards contained in the Clare County Development Plan 2011 to 2017 with larger parking areas including the provisions of disabled parking.

Where spaces allows, consideration should also be given to relining visitor car parks with wider car parking spaces than normal to make the driving experience easier and more comfortable for visitors, the majority of whom may be driving rental cars. Spaces up to 3.0m wide should be considered for easy access.

Adequate parking provision is essential at all proposed Heritage Sites on the trail. It is recommended that existing car park be improved and if necessary, new parking be provided at a number of sites (see Section 10.4).

Although the WAW is seen as predominately a driving route, It is recommended that a balance be struck between car parking provision and the encouragement of visitors to explore areas on foot and on a bike through adequate facilities and infrastructure, which can lead to extended stays in Ireland, increased local bed nights and increased economic benefits through associated services such as walking guides, bike hire and tour guiding.   

The provision of cycle parking should be considered at all WAW Discovery Points and heritage trail sites.

The key recommended improvement measures include:

  • Resurfacing
  • Relining
  • Peak season parking surveys, to determine actual parking requirements
  • Provision of sufficient car and cycle parking spaces, where required

Photography Recommendations

Photography cannot begin until the final list of heritage sites has been identified. Therefore it is recommended that any proposed future project include contingency time into the project deadline to cater for potential delays as a result of weather, the identification of sites and arranging site access, arranging photographs of people from the community among other factors. 

In conjunction with WAW promotion, it is recommended that the project partners consider investment in high quality aerial (helicopter) and/or drone photography and video stock for the study area including all sites.

These types of images and video are invaluable for a variety of uses now and into the future, including tourism, events, promotion, planning, construction, archaeology reports and other uses and would a valuable long term investment. 

Site Facilities Recommendations

For those tourists who are driving, cycling or walking the WAW, it is recommended that adequate rest area facilities such as seating, picnic tables, toilets and other items such as viewing areas be considered at each site as these may be key resting points along their route depending on time of arrival (i,e, lunch).

Site Recommendations - West Clare Railway

It is recommended that adequate road signage be provided for this tourist attraction on the main N67 Kilrush to Kilkee Road in both directions. At present there is insufficient road signage for tourists trying to find and visit this site. The locations is these signs will be determined by the detailed signage design process taking into account the NRA document Traffic Signs Manual in addition to any future branding for the Wild Atlantic Way or Loop Head Tourism.

At present it is not visually obvious that you have arrived at the West Clare Railway until you drive into the car park. Therefore, it is recommended that an Arrival Sign be considered to adequately inform visitors. If considered, these ‘Arrival Signs’ should be consistent for all sites in terms of design, size and branding.

The provision of cycle parking should be considered at this and all heritage trail sites. This site is on key cycling routes including the Wild Atlantic Way and the West Clare Cycleway Route among others.

With the provision of signage and possible future increase in traffic along the WAW, additional car parking provision may be required on site. It is recommended that capacity surveys (spot checks) be undertaken during the peak season to identify if additional parking is required.

It is recommended that the proposed design ready interpretation content for the site could be used by the West Clare Railway in a variety of different ways to compliment their existing information on-site. 

Site Recommendations - Blackweir Bridge

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Site Recommendations - Querrin Pier

It is recommended that adequate road signage for the proposed Heritage Trail be provided for this site at the nearby crossroads. Replacing any existing signage should be considered to avoid any confusion.  At present it is not visually obvious that you have arrived at Querrin. It is therefore recommended to again consider an ‘Arrival Sign’ to inform arriving visitors of their destination.

At present there is no existing interpretation at Querrin Pier.  With several points of interest on view from Querrin Pier and nearby, it is recommended that appropriately located and suitable site interpretation measures be used to help the visitor orientate themselves and view their surroundings with ease while reading the interpretative text.

There is significant potential for the development of a walking route (s) at Querrin using the roadway, foreshore and possibly what is known as ‘The Island’ dependant on rights of access. It is recommended that further research be undertaken.

It is recommended that cycle parking be considered at this and all sites.

Site Recommendations - Doonaha Ringforts

It is recommended that public access to at least one ring fort in Doonaha (or in any other location on Loop Head) be secured before consideration of any other improvement measures.
If public access is secured, other recommendations may include a full heritage and interpretation report on the site, improved site conditions, access, site interpretation, parking, signage and more.

Site Recommendations - Carrigaholt

Being a WAW Discovery Point, it is recommended that all proposed improvement measures and recommendation tie into and compliment the official WAW interpretation proposals being undertaken by The Paul Hogarth Company and any proposed Failte Ireland site improvement measures.

Due to the prominence of Carrigaholt Castle in the local landscape, it is recommended that dialogue should be initiated as soon as possible between all stakeholders, tenants and landowners regarding possible future public access and improvements to the site.

Due to the sites proximity to the village centre, it is recommended that consideration be given to locating some interpretation in the village centre as people can then walk from there to explore the area.

It is recommended that the existing car park be resurfaced and lined provision of additional parking should be considered during the peak season. Parking counts should also be undertaken during the peak season to confirm and quantify any additional parking requirements. It is recommended that cycle parking be considered at this site. 

Site Recommendations - Kilcredaun

There are many existing and established walking routes on the public roads in the Kilcredaun area. However, for both a local and visitor to fully appreciate the rich heritage in the area, it is recommended that further investigation, dialogue and development work be undertaken regarding possible future public access to the heritage sites located on private lands on the Kilcredaun headland.

The number and location of these sites on this scenic headland, points to significant potential for the development of a high quality public walking route to enjoy the area and the economic benefits that come with a successful walking trail.

It is recommended that all proposed tourism literature and site interpretation material state that there is currently (2014) no public access to the site and to explore and enjoy the area you require a local guide who is permitted access by the landowner (s).  

If a public access walking route is secured in the future, it is recommended that consideration also be given to the provision of adequate road signage, car and cycle parking and interpretation before or after walking route development works are complete. 

Site Recommendations - Rinevella Bay

It is recommended that adequate road signage be provided for this site in both directions  

In addition it is also recommended to locate and provide a new parking area and viewing point overlooking the bay to allow visitors to enjoy the view even in bad weather from the comfort of their car. 

At present it is not visually obvious where the submerged forest is, how to get to it and importantly what it is. If public access to the submerged forest site is to be encouraged as part of a side trail, then appropriate directions, map and tide times should form part of the site interpretation in the future.

It is recommended that cycle parking be considered at this site. 

Site Recommendations - Grave of the Yellow Men

It is recommended that adequate road signage be provided for this site in both directions.

This site is ideally placed to take advantage of the spectacular scenery overlooking Kilbaha Bay and rugged coastline however there is no formal parking spaces provided only road side parking on the grass verge. Therefore, it is recommended to provide new end-on parking spaces overlooking the bay to allow visitors to enjoy the view even in bad weather. There is adequate space to provide up to 10 spaces adjacent to the existing memorial.  

The existing interpretation boards at the site are somewhat faded and it is difficult to read. It is recommended that these could be repaired and/or updated/supplemented with additional interpretation material from this project.

It is recommended that the provision of cycle parking should be considered at this site.

Site Recommendations - Pilots Memorial and Kilbaha Bay

It is recommended that adequate road signage be provided for this site in both directions.

This site is again ideally placed to take advantage of the spectacular scenery overlooking Kilbaha Bay. However during peak times parking is difficult to find adjacent to the site. It is recommended to provide additional parking spaces in the area to cater for demand.

There is a considerable amount of existing interpretation at the site itself.

The number of interpretation locations in Kilbaha lends itself to some confusion if you are trying to find a particular heritage site. Therefore it is recommend that tastefully designed signs or plaques similar  in nature to those described as ‘arrival signs’ for the above sites be considered to identify and distinguish between each heritage or memorial site in Kilbaha.   

It is recommended that repair and improvement measures be implemented at all Kilbahas heritage sites which were damaged in the 2014 storms.

Site Recommendations - Loop Head

Acknowledging the fact that significant numbers of visitors already walk on Loop Head at present, it is recommended that a walking path be considered on Loop Head. There is significant potential for a high quality loop walk (s) on Loop Head whilst also ensuring that the local environment remains adequately protected.

While it is recognised that preventing people from walking in the area would be difficult, the provision of a walking path should help control and reduce the number of people walking in all directions and on more sensitive areas on Loop Head and should help provide more effective protection to the existing Special Protection Area (SPA) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) on Loop Head. A variety of walking path sustainable solutions could be considered.  

Loop Head lighthouse as with many paying tourist attractions such as Muckross House and Cliffs of Moher, a certain percentage of visitors do not pay for entry but enjoy the surrounding ‘free’ amenities. Therefore it is recommended that in addition to catering to and providing facilities (walking paths, seats, picnic table, etc) for those visitors who do not enter the lighthouse, the quantity of these annual visitors should also be surveyed and counted to gain a better insight into total visitor numbers and their experience at Loop Head.

Loop Head Lighthouse is closed for a period during the year. Tourists arriving in this off peak and shoulder season would like something to do and walking on Loop Head is an obvious activity. 

The existing interpretation boards on Loop Head are focused primarily on bird life and are somewhat faded. It is recommended that these could be updated or supplemented with additional interpretation material from this project whilst ensuring that it compliments the official WAW interpretation proposals being undertaken by The Paul Hogarth Company.  It is also recommended that a full review of all tourist and information signage be undertaken on Loop Head where all interested parties co-operate to optimise and minimise signage on Loop Head and avoid any duplication of signage.   

It is recommended that the provision of additional parking should be considered during the peak season. Parking counts should also be undertaken during the peak season to confirm and quantify any additional parking requirements.

Site Recommendations - Church of the Little Ark

It is recommended that adequate road signage be provided in both directions from Kilbaha and from the Bridges of Ross. The provision of an arrival sign consistent with the existing aesthetics of the church should also be considered in conjunction with the Church Authorities.

Due to the location of the Ark within the local church, it is recommended that consideration be given to building a replica of the Ark for promotional use, potential future events and other uses.

The proposed interpretation material should compliment the existing interpretation material within the church.

It is recommended that the provision of cycle parking should be considered at this site.

Site Recommendations - Tullig Famine Village

In the short term, it is recommended that adequate parking, signage and interpretation are firstly provided at a specific location on the trail to view the area where the village existed. As the village no longer exists, interpretation of the site must include some visual proposals to give an idea of what the village looked like in the past. One possibility could be a drawing of the old village engraved on Perspex glass, allowing the visitor to place the village on the famine landscape with their own eyes.

In the medium to long term, it is recommended that consideration could be given to interpretation in the form of reconstructing the famine village to give the visitor a more physical experience.

Site Recommendations - Bridges of Ross

Being a WAW Discovery Point, it is recommended that all proposed improvement measures, interpretation and recommendations made in this report tie into and compliment the official WAW interpretation proposals being undertaken by The Paul Hogarth Company and any other proposed Failte Ireland site improvement or infrastructural measures.

It is recommended that adequate road signage be provided for this site in both directions and in conjunction with proposed WAW signage proposals for Discovery points.

As a WAW Discovery Point, it is recommended that parking counts be undertaken during the peak season to quantify if additional parking is required. It is recommended that cycle parking be considered at this site. 

Due to the location of the arches, it is recommended that the existing walking route from the car park to the site be extend along the cliffs to form an official loop walk on the headland and possibly further along the cliffs in both directions. For example, to connect Loop Head and the Bridges of Ross with a cliff top walking route similar to the Kilkee Cliff Walk. If considered, it is recommended that dialogue should be initiated between all stakeholders, tenants and landowners regarding possible future public access.  

Due to the site location approx. 500m away from the car park, it is recommended that consideration be given to locating interpretation information at both the car park and the site itself.

It is recommended that appropriately located and suitably visual and physical site interpretation measures be considered to help visitors grasp the vast time periods you are dealing with in Geology.

It is recommended that the provision of cycle parking should be considered at this site.

Site Recommendations - Dunlicka Castle

It is recommended that adequate road signage be provided for this site in both directions.  

Although the existing car park is large and provides significant space for the movement of vehicles, it is recommended that the existing car park be upgraded, resurfaced and lined to cater for all vehicle sizes.

Although this area gets a significant number of visitors, there are no formal paths. It is recommended that measures be implemented to create obvious paths exploring the site.

Although the castle is no longer present, it is recommended that appropriately located and suitable site interpretation measures be used to help the visitor orientate themselves on the landscape. This will allow visitors to locate and view what the Castle looked like in the past, the locations of nearby Islands such as Illaunonearaun (Oileán an Fhearáin) the southwest and Bishops Island to the northeast while reading the interpretative text.

It is recommended that the provision of cycle parking should be considered at this site.

Site Recommendations - Bishops Island

This existing car parking area is ideally placed to take advantage of the spectacular scenery overlooking the Kilkee Cliffs and islands. However, there is only space to cater for approx. 8 parked cars.

It is recommended that additional parking should be considered during the peak season and parking counts should confirm and quantify additional parking requirements. It is also recommended that the car park be upgraded, resurfaced and relined.

As visitors cannot get to the island, it is recommended that appropriately located and suitable site interpretation measures be considered to bring the island to the visitor and let them experience the site it either visually or physically. The Interpretation should help the visitor orientate themselves, locate the island and view what Island looked like in the past while reading the interpretative text.

It is recommended that cycle parking be considered at this site. 

It is recommended that consideration be given to extending the Kilkee Cliff Walk as far as Bishops Island and onto Dunlicka Castle.

Site Recommendations - Kilkee Cliffs and Pollock Holes

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.

Site Recommendations - Kilkee Town

It is recommend that a specific location with the town be identified as the site for interpretation. Although Kilkee has rich Victorian Heritage, this is somewhat lost on visitors as many would find it difficult to identify without some form of interpretation.  It is recommended therefore, that appropriately located and suitable site interpretation measures be used to help the visitor orientate themselves and identify where the Victorian heritage locations are and read the stories behind them. It is suggested that the main interpretation could be located at the bandstand near Kilkee beach and from here a trail of markers could be placed in the footpaths leading visitors on a Victorian Heritage and Local History Trail around the town and the west end.

Site Recommendations - Corbally and Coosheen

Due to the size of the area and the multitude of interesting points, it is firstly recommended that one specific, easily accessible location with views of the entire area is chosen for parking, signage and interpretation. It is recommended that the parking area be located immediately north of Corbally hill (102m) to give the best scenic views (approx location 52.705940, -9.633673). This site must then also be adequately signed on the main WAW N67 route.

Geolocation

Citation

ActiveMe Heritage Services, “Loop Head Heritage Trail Project Overview ,” Wild Atlantic Way Heritage Trails, accessed January 21, 2019, https://wildatlanticway.omeka.net/items/show/27.