Kenmare is a popular destination for visitors to Kerry but some living in the town endure appalling housing conditions not seen by tourists.

Newsbeat explores another side of the Kerry town of Kenmare, which is not on the tourist trail.

The public face of Kenmare, the one the tourists see, is clean and sparkling. A smug, comfortable town of a thousand people which takes its prosperity easily from the fact that it lies in a great holiday area. But don't be too easily deceived. Kenmare's got another face.

Just twenty yards off the main street on Henry Lane lies a row of terraced houses in dereliction as a result of fire and neglect. Some of the houses are still occupied. Kate O'Leary has been living in these conditions for eighteen years and has been looking for alternative housing all this time. 

Over one hundred and fifty people in Kenmare live in condemned houses. Only four council houses have been built in the town in the past thirty four years resulting in a severe shortage of housing. As a consequence, many people have left the town while others wait in the hope of a house so that they can then marry. 

Bill O'Herlihy meets some of the residents and former residents who describe the poor living conditions they have endured and their plight to find alternative housing in the town. 

More than sixty houses in Kenmare have been condemned for more than twenty years. Built one hundred years ago they are appallingly inadequate by today's standards. No water, no sanitation, no electricity, nothing to cook on except an open fire. A couple of rooms and up to a pound a week in rent. Some are infested and eaten away by rats.

These houses are occupied mainly by the elderly because young people won't tolerate such primitive conditions. 

Kerry County Council has sought departmental sanction on eight occasions to build on selected sites. Each time, their application was refused. Despite planning refusal, private houses have subsequently been built on some of these locations. 

Much of the land around Kenmare is owned by absentee landlords and can yield £1,500 an acre. Often, the sale land can stipulate private building only. In the late 1950s an attempt was made to for compulsory purchase orders on land, but again the application failed. 

Fine Gael TD Pat O'Connor, who has been campaigning to get houses built, points the finger of responsibility at local government for the appalling situation. 

The housing conditions here in Kenmare are the worst in Ireland.

This episode of 'Newsbeat' was broadcast on 19 October 1967. The reporter is Bill O'Herlihy.