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Careers About
Services Projects 27 Insights 36 Podcasts 16 Careers About
Designing a sustainable visitor management plan for Keem Bay
Length
min read
Publication
Nov 29 ― 2023
Chris Armstrong
Senior Project Specialist | Placemaking
Throughout the second half of the year, TOPOSOPHY has been leading the development of a bespoke visitor management and sustainable development plan for the stunning natural landscape of Keem Bay, Achill Island, on the dramatic west coast of Ireland.
About our work

This breathtaking coastal inlet, often ranked amongst the best beaches in the World, sits on the western edge of the continent (next stop America) and is widely recognised as one of the most significant jewels in the crown along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. However, Keem Bay (pronounced ‘Kim’ locally) is also held in incredibly high regard amongst the local population on Achill almost as if the bay itself possesses even a spiritual essence. 

Keem Bay is nestled between mountains and hills on three sides, including the Croaghaun Cliffs which are said to be the highest sea cliffs in Ireland. There is one single access road which hugs the coastline from the village of Dooagh before winding down the mountainside offering spectacular panoramic views to two small car parks, golden sands and crystal blue waters. There are a number of small buildings in the bay itself, some remnants from a bygone shark fishery, and one which was recently used as a set in the critically-acclaimed, Banshees of Inisherin. However, there is no mains water or electricity to the site.

A steady increase in visitors over the last number of years, including a significant rise in footfall (and traffic) more recently following the pandemic has put Keem Bay’s limited infrastructure under significant pressure during peak season. As such, TOPOSOPHY has been commissioned by Mayo County Council to identify the key challenges facing this landscape and design an effective multi-agency implementation plan for both visitor management and the sustainable development of Keem Bay in the future. 

Our team has very much enjoyed spending time on Achill Island to really get under the skin of the key challenges and gain an in-depth understanding of the genuine concerns local people and businesses have for Keem Bay. It is difficult to overstate the passion people locally have for Keem Bay and the sense of responsibility the community feel they have as stewards for the place, right across Achill Island. 

Emboldened by this organic sense of collective stewardship, we have been delighted to bring our own insights, expertise and experience from delivering similar projects concerning the negative impacts of overtourism in the Greek Isles of Rhodes and Santorini to ensure we create a practical implementation plan for Mayo County Council to drive forward the responsible development, promotion and protection of Keem Bay in the future. 

We are pleased to say that we are now working on the final stage implementation plan which will be delivered to Mayo County Council before the end of the year with targeted actions to be coordinated by the Council throughout the next six to twelve months ensuring that Keem Bay continues to be cherished, respected and protected for future generations. 

Read more about our approach, key elements, project outcomes, and more here. 

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