‘It’s so gross, people empty the chemical toilets from their camper vans’ – shock at amount of litter on Achill beach
Local resident and environmental activist Saoirse McHugh is used to cleaning up after visitors but even she was taken aback by the mess in recent days.
Campfires that crackled cheerfully at sunset were piled high with rubbish, cans and bottles before departure the next morning.
Cans and bottles do not burn, neither do tent poles or metal barbecues, but many of these and other charred, foul-smelling items were left behind.
“You have to scrape all this stuff off the sand and grass and you can’t separate it. It all has to be dumped,” said Saoirse who has spent many hours cleaning up.
“It’s so gross, people empty the chemical toilets from their camper vans out in a heap. Others just go on the hill. There’s human faeces all over the grass.
“I picked up a plastic bag of baby mackerel and I found a tupperware bucket full of limpets in the car park. They were all dead of course and you can imagine the smell.”
Keem has public toilets but they are up the famous hill that rises behind the beach and creates the gorgeous views for which the beauty spot is acclaimed.
“I supposed they’re about 10 minutes’ walk away and people don’t want to do it at night but that doesn’t excuse leaving human waste on the grass,” said Saoirse.
Daily Digest Newsletter
Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.
This field is required
“The majority of people who come are no problem. It’s really nice in the evening to have people on the beach. There’s a lovely vibe.
“I think the problem is with people who are not used to camping or who’ve only done festival camping. It’s a very festival thing to dump everything and presume cleaners are going to come around and clear up.
“But it’s other people who come to enjoy the place who end up doing that.
“I meet visitors who are picking up after others. There are lovely people who set up camp and the first thing they have to do is clear the mess left by whoever was there before them.
“I think we need a beach warden to patrol the place, telling people not to light fires and getting them to take their rubbish home with them, like they have in the national parks in the US where you can be given an on-the-spot fine.”
Mayo County Council said it has additional litter control measures in many locations, including Keem.
A spokesperson said: “We are also calling on the public who are visiting beaches, amenity areas and beauty spots, enjoying the outdoors, to take home their litter.”
Beauty Spot Blights:
The Irish Independent and Independent.ie will be highlighting the scourge of littering in natural beauty spots and popular visitor areas over the summer months.
Out and about in Ireland this summer and spotting litter in some our most beautiful areas? Send us your photos and video to firstname.lastname@example.org