Cockle pickers John Collins and Paddy Ryan pictured at one of last year’s protests.  			| Photo: Noel Browne

Cockle pickers John Collins and Paddy Ryan pictured at one of last year’s protests. | Photo: Noel Browne

A GROUP of cockle pickers have vowed to protest once again if the terms of a recent agreement are not respected.
Last year, cockle pickers at Tramore’s Backstrand became concerned after a lock was placed on a gate at the top of a laneway which they have used to access the area for many years.
As a result, they staged a number of protests at the top of the laneway at Lisselan on the R685.
After the protests, Cllr John Hearne (SF) acted as a mediator between both parties involved in the dispute and an agreement was thought to have been reached.
“The agreement which was reached respected the rights and concerns of both parties,” he said.
Spokesperson for the Tramore Backstrand Awareness Group John Devereux said the cockle pickers were respectful of the proposal which was presented to them.
However, he claims that promises “never materialised” and says that the cockle pickers have now been forced to regroup and will protest again if necessary.
Traditionally, the owner (now deceased) of a property adjoining the laneway had allowed cockle pickers access the Backstrand via the laneway which is at the centre of the dispute.
The cockle pickers had been permitted to use an area along the laneway to park their cars.
However, last year, a new owner placed a lock on a gate which restricted access to the Backstrand.
A ‘No Parking’ sign was also erected.
The group say that, because access is being denied, they have to park their cars on the busy roadway.
This has caused security concerns, while there are also concerns for some elderly members of the group who are unable to walk an increased distance in order to access the Backstrand.
The much loved get-togethers which have been enjoyed by the cockle pickers have been described as “the original Men’s Sheds”.
The men have spoken of their love for the area and the activity of cockle picking – with many continuing a tradition which has been enjoyed by their families for generations.
A number of men in the group have been picking cockle on the Backstrand for more than 45 years.
Cockle collection on the Backstrand goes back generations and the area is regarded by many as being the best cockle bed in Ireland.
In the recent past, the tradition of cockle picking on Tramore’s Backstrand faced a challenge when attempts were made at large scale harvesting.
Cockles now cannot be harvested at the Backstrand for sale, but the tradition of cockle picking continues on a small scale.
Cllr Hearne says he hopes that the terms of the agreement can be adhered to and that the group can continue their much loved tradition.