Island life is special, and keeping islands tidy makes it more so. 'Nationwide' visits Bere and Sherkin islands to see how people are working to improve their communities.

The rugged natural beauty of these islands, combined with a quality of life not found in many other places, and a vibrant community spirit, make them places apart from the rest of Ireland.  Bere Island ferryman Colum Harrington says, 

It’s a great place to live, because you’ve got the peace and quiet, but it’s a great place to bring up families...kids on Bere Island would be always outdoors...it’s got a good way of life, and  a community spirit that you won’t get in other places.

A renewed interest in the environment doesn’t just mean picking up litter however.  Residents of Bere Island have recently drawn up a plan to develop the old national school building as a heritage centre, to preserve the island’s past history, and function as an amenity for island residents.  John Walsh, Bere Island Community Development member, says the island is definitely a contender for the Tidy Islands title.

The current holder of the Tidy Islands title is Sherkin Island.  Matthew Stephens, owner of the Jolly Roger pub and member of Sherkin Tidy Island Committee explains why they continue to build on all the work carried out over the years,

If people don’t want to come out to the beaches because they’re not looking well, then the pubs will be affected, and the ferry will be affected, and of course all the locals would use those amenities, so it’s important that we keep the place looking well.

George Packard, an American writer, came to Sherkin as a tourist 25 years ago, and loved it so much that he moved here.  For him, the island is paradise.  He is full of admiration for all the hard work and commitment the Sherkin Tidy Islands Committee puts in, 

Without them, you’d be up to your ankles in candy wrappers.

This report from ‘Nationwide’ was broadcast on 5 August 2007.  The reporter is Geraldine Harney.

'Nationwide' is an early evening magazine programme that brings Irish viewers an eclectic round-up of news, views and events from around the country.