Sunny bank holiday weekends ‘leave Brittas Bay locals in fear of going out’, says local TD

Co Wicklow residents want coastal shuttle bus service to beaches as cars block ambulances access

Locals living near Co Wicklow’s coastal beaches have called for a shuttle bus service to ferry trippers from towns to popular beaches such as Magheramore and Britttas Bay.

The call is being lead by local TD Jennifer Whitmore who found herself stuck in a traffic jam which delayed access to an ambulance two years ago. Ms Whitmore told The Irish Times she had been heading north along the coastal route from Brittas Bay towards Wicklow, with cars parked on grass verges either side, when she heard the siren behind her. The ambulance, while delayed, got through on that occasion but Ms Whitmore said the problem has been a regular issue around Co Wicklow beaches as emergency crews attempt rescues with impeded access.

“Residents also live in fear of a sunny bank holiday weekend like the one just passed. It is not safe for them to go out and attempt to walk on the roads, such is the parking and congestion.” Ms Whitmore has raised the issue in the Dáil and on several occasions with the National Transport Authority, “but they have not delivered”.

An Garda Síochána and Wicklow County Council have installed both permanent and temporary barriers alongside traffic cones and double yellow lines for up to a kilometre either side of the entrances to popular beaches. Wicklow gardaí also took to Facebook on Sunday warn day trippers “visiting Magheramore, Brittas Bay or any scenic areas and amenities in Wicklow this weekend to park responsibly”.


Anyone found “parking along the road on double yellow lines or on grass verge resulting in the obstruction of emergency vehicles in the area will be towed away and fines will be issued”, the garda said. An Garda Síochána was asked if anyone was fined over the past weekend and a response is expected to be forthcoming.

Ms Whitmore told The Irish Times she has been campaigning for a new bus service to link coastal communities for a number of years now but it has not been sanctioned by the Natioonal Transport Authority. “What we want is a local link bus from Arklow calling at Brittas Bay, Magheramore, Wicklow, Newcastle, Kilcoole and Greystones. It seems ridiculous that there is no public transport link between these places, which are very popular,” she said. “The result is that emergency services with defibrillators are just not making the beaches on time,” she said.

Shuttle buses are being provided from towns and villages to four blue flag beaches in Co Wexford. These include from Gorey to Ballymoney; from Kilmuckridge to Moirriscastle beach; from Wexford Town to Curracloe and from Wexford Town to Ballinesker. The shuttle operates at weekends and bank holidays as well as the first two weeks in August and, according to county secretary, Michael Drea, the service has been “a huge success”. Wexford County council senior engineer, Gerry Forde, said the reduction in cars parking on the verges has been very important to the dunes.

Gorey-based Senator Malcolm Byrne said the shuttle service was considerably more sustainable than people coming from as far away as Kilkenny to visit the Co Wexford beaches and it was something which he believed could, and should, be deployed in Co Wicklow.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist