The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has closed Killarney National Park to jaunting cars, which do not sport the dung collecting bags dubbed ‘nappies’, citing complaints from visitors.

In a statement last Tuesday (July 14) announcing the decision, the NPWS said: “An unfortunate consequence of such a high volume of horses frequenting the park is that the roadways are consistently fouled with horse dung and has for a long time, been a concern from the point of view of environmental, health and safety, aesthetic and tourism grounds.

“It should be noted that the majority of visitors to the park navigate the roads by foot and as result of the horse dung on the roads, the NPWS has received numerous complaints.”

The dung deal sparked protests from drivers or ‘jarveys’, who picketed the main entrance to the park in County Kerry.

But, the NPWS says since June it has repeatedly reminded them they must use dung catchers but that they had “shown an unwillingness to cooperate” with the new licence requirements.

“This decision was taken as none of the jaunting cars hold a valid permit which requires the use of dung catchers to operate within the park which means that jarveys are operating illegally,” said the statement.

Up to 66 jaunting cars – a light two-wheeled sprung cart – ply their trade in the park along 15 kilometres of roads, which the NPWS points are maintained at taxpayers’ expense.

Now, the wheels have come off 18 months of consultation with the jarveys, who argue the dung catchers will unbalance the carriages and horses.

Paul Tangney, who has operated jaunting carriages in the park for 25 years, voiced anger over the decision.

He said: “This is devastating. This is a national disgrace and we are very, very upset over it.

“We’re going to lose contracts, Killarney is going to lose money over it because tourists won’t bother coming to Killarney. It’s safety reasons. It’s just too dangerous to do it.”

The NPWS says the dung catcher’s work and are safe and are used internationally ‘from Vienna to Vancouver’.

It says it has taken the action as a “last resort” and called on the jarveys to ‘own up to their responsibilities’.

Each year, more than a million visitors flock to the picture postcard park, which remains open to visitors.

David Gibbs

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