Jo Hayes from Kilkee checks out the boards as John O'Malley, Anne Haugh, David Leahy, John Leahy and Cillian Murphy take a closer look Picture: Arthur Ellis
THE LONG running saga over the famous diving boards at Newfy in Kilkee has finally drawn to a close with the re-installation of the iconic structures at the popular bathing spot.
Removed in 2015 by Clare County Council due to safety concerns, a pair of brand new boards, funding for which was raised in the community and spearheaded by local businesses, have been installed in recent weeks.
Arriving with the boards is a new feature, a large depth gauge and associated metalwork that has raised the eyebrows of purists, who hold Newfoundout - to give its proper title - dear to heart, a place that has seen swimming and diving for almost 100 years.
And yet, there are those who are more practical, believing the return of the boards, which are simply synonymous with Kilkee, to be the only thing that really matters.
“It is huge, it is part of our culture in Kilkee and part of the culture of people coming here, generations of kids who have grown up diving off the boards in Kilkee,” explains Cillian Murphy, local restaurateur and Kilkee Chamber of Commerce member.
“And not to have them was a huge loss - in a way, it sent kids off to other parts of the bay, which may not have been as suitable.
“I know people in the council have worked very hard over the last two and a half years to get these up and running. I don’t think there is anyone who has seen the metalwork and steel associated with it, who would be entirely happy with it, but if that is the cost of them being there, then I think we are just going to have to deal with it.”
His Kilkee compatriot Manuel di Lucia agrees.
“There is a long history of boards there and, funny enough, there has never been a recorded incident,” says Manuel.
“There is a depth gauge, and if it helps - it was instrumental, I would say, in us getting the boards back - then perfect. There has been a big welcome in the community, it is fantastic, all I can say about them is good. And they are lovely boards, so it is all good.”
Di Lucia recalls Limerick men Richard Harris diving there in the 50s, Noel McDonogh in the 60s and 70s, and Pat Lawlor, whose name now adorns a trophy for the annual diving competition at the famous spot, which it is now hoped will return at Newfy this summer season.