Kieran Foley reports
INCLUSION on the Wild Atlantic Way has the potential to regenerate communities throughout County Waterford, according to TV chef Paul Flynn.
Mr Flynn, chef and owner of The Tannery Restaurant in Dungarvan, has previously spoken in support of Waterford’s inclusion on the high profile Fáilte Ireland tourism proposition which has proven to be a resounding success.
And speaking to The Munster Express this week, Mr Flynn reiterated his call for Waterford to be added to the Wild Atlantic Way.
“I don’t see the problem in extending the Wild Atlantic Way down the coast. It would be a huge boost for villages along the Copper Coast such as Bonmahon.”
He believes Fáilte Ireland’s emphasis on the Wild Atlantic Way is indirectly telling tourists to bypass Waterford.
“All tourists have the Wild Atlantic Way on their minds when they come here. It’s ingrained in people’s minds and it’s detrimental to the rest of the country,” he said.
“The South East is in need of help. But bring in the tourists and we will do the rest. We’re not asking Fáilte Ireland to do the work for us. If they bring in the tourists, they can then let us do our jobs.”
He continued: “Dungarvan is a good tourist town, but you don’t see groups of Germans or Americans walking down the streets. We’re being bypassed. Where is the logic in stopping the Wild Atlantic Way in Kinsale? It’s great for Kinsale, but it’s bringing more people into an already busy town.”
He added: “In Dungarvan, we’re doing ok but we have to fight hard in order to do ok. We’re like maniacs trying to tell people about all that we have to offer in Waterford.”
In relation to Ireland’s Ancient East, Mr Flynn said the concept was “welcomed” but said he would wait and see how it would manifest itself.
He said he was “amazed” by the “crazy” statement that Waterford’s coast was “not wild enough” to warrant inclusion on the Wild Atlantic Way.
In 2014, Paul Keeley of Fáilte Ireland told The Munster Express that the Copper Coast was “not wild” and could not trump the west coast which he said was a “rugged, wild landscape”.
Addressing the geography controversy, and whether or not Waterford has an Atlantic coastline, Mr Flynn said that a quick search online clearly shows that the Celtic Sea is regarded as being part of the Atlantic Ocean.
“The Bay of Biscay is directly below us. Does that mean that the Bay of Biscay is not part of the Atlantic Ocean as well?” he asked.
Mr Flynn said that linking the Wild Atlantic Way with Ireland’s Ancient East makes sense and highlighted the opportunities which such a move would present for Waterford in conjunction with the opening of the Waterford Greenway.
He complimented Fáilte Ireland on developing the Wild Atlantic Way, saying it was undoubtedly a “brainwave”.
However, he reiterated his disbelief that Waterford had been excluded. “Is it because of politics? I’m hearing all sorts of rumours,” he said.
In 2014, Mr Flynn first spoke of the need to add Waterford to the Wild Atlantic Way – but to no avail.
“We put forward a very strong case for Waterford’s inclusion,” he said.
He described attempts to highlight the need for Waterford’s inclusion as “endlessly frustrating”.
“It would change the fortunes of an entire area,” he said. While Mr Flynn said he would continue to champion the need for Waterford to be included on the Wild Atlantic Way, he added: “hopes aren’t high”.