Keem Strand

Achill Island and the end of the road. In Ireland, it is a Bank Holiday Sunday and it was heaving, no doubt influenced by an Irish newspaper article extolling it as one of the best beaches for “wild” swimming. Today there are no residents. The road, built in the 1960s is almost exclusively the domain of the tourists. It was not always so. In the mid 19th century there was a vibrant community of 41 houses including a basking shark fishing industry. The white house on the left is the former coastguard station, built in 1906, now privately owned but in a sorry state. Arguably the most famous resident was Capt. Charles Boycott, who in 1854 leased 2,000 acres of Archill including the Keem valley. An Englishman, born in Norfolk, enlisted in the 39th Regiment of Foot and ended up in Ireland where he resigned his commission. He set up house in Keem which subsequently burned down so began managing a neighbouring estate where he acquired a reputation for his harsh and cruel tactics towards his tenants. This reputation developed and by 1873 he was managing an estate in Ballinrobe where the tenants refused to have anything to do with him so entering the word “boycott” in the English language.

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