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Back To The Old Head of Kinsale – With A Difference! November 29, 2017

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

A very welcome guest post about a children’s book with a difference from Kevin Doyle and Spark Deeley

The Old Head of Kinsale in Cork is a renowned beauty spot. Even now, despite all that’s happened there, it features prominently on Brand Ireland’s hit tourist trail, The Wild Atlantic Way. However, if you venture down to the Old Head these days – as many tourists do – you will be in for a surprise: the entire headland with its wonderful cliff edge walks and natural scenery is out of bounds. Member of the public, even tourists, are not allowed access to promontory. The reality is, since 2003, visiting the headland has been ‘at the discretion’ of its new owners, The Old Head Golf Links.
The poet, Theo Dorgan, has described what happened at the Old Head of Kinsale an ‘annexation’ and that in a very real sense is actually what happened there. In the late 80s, the wealthy businessman John O’Connor purchased the entire headland for the princely sum of just €300,000. Although he would later describe the decision as a ‘rush of blood to the head’, he had a clear sense of what he wanted to do with this unique part of the Irish coastline. His dream did not include the interests of walkers, sightseers or the general public. O’Connor’s vision was to construct a golf links at the Old Head aimed at the luxury end of the market.

The One Percent

In other words if you had money you would be very welcome. Today, for the tidy sum of just €30,000 per year, you can be a member of the Old Head Golf Links. In 2015 this amounted to some 300 members, 80% of whom are from outside Ireland. Alternatively, you can pay to play golf for just the day at the club. A manager at the Old Head Golf Links has said, ‘At the height of season, nobody blinks at the idea of paying €1,000 for a four ball. We never ever get a complaint here on value. Any complaints we might get would be more about a foggy day or a bit of slow play.’ So there you go!
A campaign – Free The Old Head – was fought to keep access to the Old Head free and open to all. For a time this was backed by Cork County Council and An Bord Pleanála who supported retaining a measure of public access to the headland. But O’Connor, via Ashbourne Holding, took these public bodies to court and eventually prevailed. Back up by the gardaí and a Supreme Court ruling in his favour, The Old Head Golf Link banned the public from the headland. The rest, as they say, is history – well sort of.

The Worms That Saved The World

The idea for a children’s book around the Old Head campaign arose out of the fact that at the height of the protests I had young children. There are lots of great books out there for kids, but it struck me that there were very around that talked about the sort of thing that had happened at the Old Head of Kinsale. From some people we heard a bit of a ‘tut, tut’ – you know the kind of argument that goes along the lines of ‘Isn’t that all a bit political for a children’s book?’ But you have to ask yourself what about all those books with princes and princes in them? Aren’t they political too? ’
We need stories that talk about the very things that matter a lot – like standing up for your rights, showing solidarity, valuing community over privilege, minding the environment. In an world that is increasingly focused on the neo-liberal dream of creating a planet of individualised consumers, we need to say out loud ‘No thanks’. Why shouldn’t an amenity like the Old Head of Kinsale be free to walk on? Why should those with money be allowed to take if from everyone and keep for themselves only?
In our story book, The Worms That Saved The World, a group of earthworms living on an imaginary headland begin to suffer when a golf course takes up residence around their home. The worms attempt to tell the new owners about their concerns but they are dismissed. In response they hold a mass meeting – really when worms get together there are lots of them! – and begin to organise. They ask for help from other birds and animals – some of whom they are normally in competition with on the headland – and they get it. They fight back and eventually reclaim the headland for everyone.

Beautiful Illustrations

Although the idea for the story was there, I had trouble finding an illustrator. I actually met Spark Deeley at another protest in Cork. The irony of it was that she had been involved in the Free The Old Head campaign too. We got together and it turned out we had similarly views on how a books should go.
The illustrations in the book have already garnered much praise. Speaking about them, Spark Deeley said, ‘There are thirty-five original illustrations. First, I sketched the images onto watercolour paper. The drawings were then inked in using a fine liner drawing pen. Finally, I coloured the drawings by hand using watercolour paint. The larger images took between 4 – 5 days each from start to finish. The expressions on the faces of the worms change throughout the book. Their faces convey the emotions that they experience as the story unfolds. We see concern, confusion, surprise, fear, outrage, concentration, questioning, determination, compassion and pure joy. That is what this story is all about.’
Although we tried we couldn’t interest any publishers in the book. While the environmental theme is attractive these days, direct action isn’t so popular with publishers! The book also didn’t fit into the usual age categories – it spans a number really. So we decided to print ourselves. So far, following a tremendous launch in Cork, it has done very well. Parents, adults and children have responded very positively to what the story is about and to the fact that the book fills a gap that is clear there in the market. The Worms That Saved The World is a story about ‘the rest of us winning’ for a change, about justice and upturning the game on the highly privileged.
On Saturday, December 2nd The Worms That Saved The World will be launched in Dublin at The Teachers’ Club on December 2nd at 4pm by Mr Gregor Kerr. We love to see you all there!

Some more links here
Free Old Head of Kinsale – A Brief History (includes more links)
News about “The Worms That Saved The World”


1. Expression - November 30, 2017

Designer Collection

Back To The Old Head of Kinsale – With A Difference! | The Cedar Lounge Revolution


2. GW - November 30, 2017

The brief history link is well worth a read – I didn’t know the details of the campaign and the enclosure of an entire headland for benefit of the 1%, excluding the rest of us.

It’ll be a sign of a better world when we only have public golf courses, with rights of way through them. And without Roundup applied regularly!


EWI - November 30, 2017

It’ll be a sign of a better world when we only have public golf courses

Exclusive gold clubs – the new masonic lodges.


EWI - November 30, 2017



3. Joe - November 30, 2017

I remember when we’d be down in Kerry or Galway on holiers as kids. We’d be walking across some farmers field to get to a beach or a rock to fish off. Someone would say “I hope the farmer doesn’t mind us walking across his field” to which my da would reply “The coastline and the rivers of Ireland belong to the people of Ireland. It’s in the Constitution. They can’t stop us making our way to somewhere that belongs to us.” End of.


Aonrud ⚘ - November 30, 2017

They can cordon you into a narrow walkway between the sea and an ugly tellytubby golf landscape with a big ugly fence though 😉 Seems to be the system anywhere near a populated area.


Joe - November 30, 2017

It seems they can. The people demand the overthrow of the regime.


4. News about The Worms That Saved The World | Kevin Doyle Blog - February 27, 2018

[…] Report on Cedar Lounge Revolution (Dec 2017) […]


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