In Inchigeelagh, on the south bank of the river, just west of the bridge there has long been a traditional swimming place, in the stretch of the river Laoi known as the Long Reach, probably for generations. 

And so it was until the late 1950s or early 60s and the appearance of the Inchigeelagh Catholic Holiday Association (ICHA).  At the moment I can't find out very much about this organisation, but it seems that it had two aims: 1) To give families the chance of a holiday in unspoilt countryside for a modest cost.  2) To bring trade into the village.

The idea was a winner, a small hostel was built and many of the villagers started  to make Bed and Breakfast available.   As interest grew, the land between the swimming  hole and  the bridge (River Island) was developed for recreation with paving, slides, tennis courts, basket ball and football pitch. River Island is named from it being one of the small natural islands  in this section of the river.  Two small bridges were constructed to make access easier and a swimming Pavillion constructed.  Entertainments were organised. Inchigeelagh even had its own version of  'redcoats'; college students on holiday.  At this point a major operation was in full swing,  But a cloud was on the horizon.

The Long Reach.

In the early 1970s cheap package holidays to the sun started and Inchigeelagh couldn't promise much sun, so trade slackened off.  The demise was slow, but sure.  However an enterprising man spotted an opening  suitable for the area;  horse drawn caravans.  The island now had pitches for 18 traditional units,  but again the idea was good but short lived.  As the roads carried more and more traffic, it was no longer any fun to plod along beside a horse.

Next River Island carried a  weedy football pitch whose highlight was an annual  Inchigeelagh Festival.  The football pitch soon fell into disuse and I believe that the Inchigeelagh Festival died with it, but now the Festival is revived as a fantastic village event.  

Around 2000 Croi na Laoi was born as a community development group with the ability to draw down development funding. This article is not primarilly about Croi na Laoi so  I will pass over some of their achievements and concentrate on River Island where they installed seating, restored the grass and planted shrubs, repaired the bridges and generally smartened the whole place up.
During the next decade or so River Island has lost a little of its past sparkle , and is ready for a bit of a spruce up, however it is still a great resource for the village.

Now with the resolution of the legal title to River Island and the Boat slip negotiations  with Cork County Council can progress with the object of them taking these  areas over for development as picnic areas, children’s playground and outdoor gym. All much needed.

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