Dáil Éireann Debate Thursday 4 November 1982
Question. Written Answers – Ahakista Pier (Cork) Improvement Works
J. Walsh: asked the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry the progress made regarding the carrying out of improvement works to Ahakista Pier in County Cork.
Minister for Fisheries and Forestry (Mr. Daly): My Department have considered substantial improvement works suggested for Ahakista Pier. On examination it was found that the cost would not be justified in the light of the level of fishing from this harbour.
The possibility of drawing up a scheme which would meet the fishermen’s needs at a more reasonable cost is being examined.
‘You know that they extended the pier in 1997 and a year later Terry Gould decided to sell. He kept it quiet and no-one here knew that he wanted to sell. All he did was put an advert in the back of a paper in London and left it at that. There were plenty here that would have bought the place off him but he kept it quiet and you bought it. There were those here that he got on with and he was not worried about them. But there were others who were greedy for the place and they saw money in it and he had no time for them.’
‘But you bought it and you have kept it as it is and that is what he wanted.’
‘He was a tough man when he wanted to be and he kept a close eye over the place and he looked after it. His big worry was the pier and how it rested against The Cottage there. He would be up here on a evening asking about the fishermen and which one was storing his nets or pots up against the wall of The Cottage or on the ground round the back that lay between The Cottage and the sea and the pourous boundaries that he had to deal with.’
‘Back then before the pier was rebuilt it was just a square stub of concrete sticking out in the water. It was first built over a hundred years ago. You know after the famine they put money aside to build the piers so men could be encouraged to fish and they wouldn’t be starving again when there was so much to eat in the sea. You know before the famine there were 5,000 people that lived around The Sheep’s Head but they lost so many there was only 1,500 left at the end and they eating seaweed and limpets to survive and they were too weak to carry out their boats to the sea.’
‘So the piers were built all along the coast here. The Cove down there was a good place for one protected as it is from the full force of the sea coming up the bay. There were others at Kilcrohane, Dooneen, Ballynatra and Glanalin. They were small those piers but they gave somewhere to tie a boat up and made people’s lives that bit easier but once a boat was in the water there was no slipway to take them out again unless you went down to Durrus or round the heads to Bantry so there was a lot of talk about a slipway being built but it never got done.’
‘But the fishermen here they started to make a business of it and they started to sell their scallops and lobsters and they’d be sent over to Spain and they started to make more of a noise about it. They set up a committee and they started to write letters so the money could be got to pay for it.’
‘Now Gould with The Cottage there hard against the pier he paid those letters close attention. He might have been back in India or at his home in Cheltenham but he followed those letters and asked questions on the plans. When he first had The Cottage there were three blue doors along the back that opened out over to the Pier and you would walk down the pier and straight through one of the doors and inside. That was alright when it was quiet and there was on the pier was a few fishermen but there were more people coming so the doors got blocked up and covered over but it was still open to the pier.’
‘The committee, that was The Ahakista Pier Development Committee Frank Arundel, Tom Whittey, Paddy Arundel and Tadg Hegarty and those men got to know Terry Gould well over those years. They knew that Gould could object and that would be the end of the pier and he knew that if he put a stop on it then he would be ruined with those men. He wrote all these careful letters to the council in Cork and there must be a great packet of them in an office there and they eventually agreed on what was to be built.
‘They put in the slipway there and a great circle of concrete to get to it from the road and they pushed out the pier another 100 yards or so out into the cove. Then they put in that metal fence along the back of The Cottage and they built up the wall to the back of your garden and they put down a great pile of big stones to protect it all from the sea. And Gould he was there in The Cottage and he would come out and look at that work there were doing and take notes in a black book and then go back inside a sad and worried look on his face.’
‘And when they finished the work and all the noise had stopped it all looked too new and clean in the landscape but it is dirty enough now. But Gould after all that work and care was gone within a year. There was too much change