The people of Arklow will be all too familiar with the battle that has been ongoing between Arklow Caravan Park, Wicklow County Council and the people of Arklow, represented by Arklow Residents Right of Way group (Arrow) for almost 8 years now.
On Tuesday this week, a large part of the metal barrier had been removed. Whilst the barrier that had previously prevented the public from using the walkway which brings you to Arklow’s North Beach has been removed, there remains a large hunk of concrete with a menacing look about it which without saying anything, does indicate that one is not welcome.
Throughout the ordeal of the last 8 years, local woman Nancy Quinn has spear headed the campaign to have access to the walkway and beach reinstated. There really couldn’t be anyone more appropriate for the task in hand, given that she has lived adjacent to the area in question for 64 years now.
Nancy remembers fondly the arrival of the caravan park back in 1965. It was a time of great excitement for the town of Arklow bringing many tourists to the town adding not just interest but income too as holiday finances were spent around the town in local shops, pubs and venues where a nights entertainment was an option for holiday makers.
Indeed, many of the current residents of the caravan park have been coming year on year for decades. For over 50 years, there has been no issues and a reciprocal welcome for the park residents. The gate at the Seaview Avenue side of the park allowed residents a shorter, safer route to the Coral Leisure Centre, Swimming Pool, Playground and Bridgewater Shopping Centre.
News quickly spread when the access gate into the caravan park was mysteriously locked in 2017 and the council were notified. The gate that had been used as an access point to the beach since the caravan park was built was the only way for anyone with mobility issues, small children or a buggy to access the beach being that the other entrance involves scrambling over rocks. Arklow Residents Right of Way (ARROW) were then formed in order to communicate updates on the saga and rally support to return this right of way to the residents of the town.
A series of meetings were subsequently arranged between all parties to try and resolve the issue. Unfortunately this wasn’t to be and in June 2018, a 6ft fence was erected around the perimeter of the Caravan Park, further reinforcing the message that non park residents were not welcome.
The current owners have a 99 year lease on the property meaning that they will be there until 2064 at least. With the most recent court date having passed off in January and the case being again put back to 3rd April 2023, all eyes will be on ARROW for updates. Hope remains that as their business may move to the next generation, so too will the access to the Rock Armoury and North beach so as generations of people can continue to use this stunning amenity as they had done for hundreds of years previous.
Now in her 10th decade, powerhouse Nancy has no intention of letting anyone bully their way to a land grab and vows to continue fighting. For justice to be restored and full access to be reinstated.