Coming up to my 52nd birthday, I got thinking about the place in which I grew up, Waterville Co. Kerry, and where the family home still remains. In particular, I got to thinking about how the village commercial life has changed over the half century or so of my recall.
From the bottom of the village, in the late 1960s, upward (all on the right as you walk, the left being rather damp ocean, we had ;
- “lower” Huggards, a general store in which I can recall my brother purchasing gobstoppers using pre decimal money. GONE
- A garage, initially owned by my uncle Austin, then his apprentice , one Mick O’Dwyer, took it over. GONE
- Another garage, Concannons, larger, with a medium sized hardware store attached, GONE
- The Anglers Rest, a fishing and tackle shop, GONE
- Duffy’s drapers , now a fishing and outdoors goods store
- Across the road some small cottages, with Denis Donnelly plying his tailoring, crooklegged in the window, now a seasonal tourist shop.
- A halftime AIB bank, GONE
- The Sea Lodge Hotel, owned by my uncle Austin (of the garage above), still trading.
- The Bay View Hotel, still trading
- Lobster Bar, owned by another uncle, Odie, still going
- the pharmacy, owned and run by my Mother, now operating on much reduced hours.
- A halftime BoI bank , GONE
- Dwyer’s Villa Maria pub , Miko’s, going strong.
- “Scoots” , run by the irascible and terrifing Old Mr Keating , who’s favourite word to small boys was …guess. Now operating on a 6w summer schedule as a booking office/marine life info centre
- Keatings Wave Crest, operating as a general store and restaurant, GONE
- Keatings Dancehall, GONE
- Lucey’s Bakery, owned by my other uncle, Paddy, GONE
- Mansfield Butchers, still operating as Scarriff Meats
- Opposite, Butler Arms Hotel, still going
- turning right at the top cross, we had Murphys, another grocery shop, now operating as a small Londis
- Beside it Paddy Fogarty’s butchers, now a Centra
- Fogarty’s Hall, a cinema/dancehall, GONE
- Central Garage, still going.
- the Post office, still going.
So 8 businesses gone, and many of the rest on summer only or reduced hours. Waterville gets a LOT of tourists, but…In 1956 the District electoral Division of Loughcurrane had 613 residents. In 1961 that had fallen to 574 and in 2011 to 269. I imagine it could well be below 200 in 2016 when the small area statistics are released. This year at 67, in the whole sweep from Kells Bay to Castlecove, including Cahersiveen and Waterville, in 11 National schools only 84 children started in 2014 and only 76 started in 2015. This year at least one school saw no student in Junior Infants. Sallins has 90 junior infants, inclusion Prof Jr.
No wonder they elect independents who shamelessly, and to their credit tirelessly, try to get as much as possible for the area, hang the rest of the country. I probably would also.