In 1988 there was a most interesting article by Clodagh Anson in the Ardmore Journal. She speaks of coming to Ardmore on holidays each summer, the excitement as the 'convoy' of horse and donkey-drawn vehicles set off from Ballysaggartmore; the further excitement when they came in sight of the Round Tower. They rented Ardmore house (now Stella Maris) and enjoyed themselves immensely. She mentions the people with whom they played, the Daniels, the Curreys, the Jamesons, the Musgraves and the Powers who lived in Cliff House. They were of course all of the gentry class. They sometimes went swimming in the Boat Cove and she quoted an article in the Dungarvan Observer, which said, "The disgusting British habit of mixed bathing is being carried on in Ardmore, corrupting the morals of the children in the nearby houses". Sir John Keane's family, the Pollocks, the Dawsons were other gentry families who came and spent the summer in their Ardmore houses, right down throught the 30's and 40's.
However, the greatest milestone in the tourism industry in Ardmore was the foundation of Coláiste Deuglán in the early 20's and there was a big influx of teachers doing Irish courses, in the beginning days of the state. They stayed both at the college itself and at numerous houses in the village. This phase abated somewhat towards the 30's, but people still came attending courses and rented houses in the village, so that children could attend Irish classes. It must have been about this time that holidaymakers began to be referred to as 'eolaishers' (coming from the Irish word eolas, knowledge). Gradually the idea grew of coming merely on a seaside holiday. Religious orders too began to rent houses and come on summer holidays to Ardmore.
There was a big influx of visitors from Cork. Their precursor was Mrs Barry (nee Dwyer) who had based herself on the Cliff in the early days of the century, and spent half the year in Ardmore. She was in Rosary Cottage and helped to bring up the family of her brother Walter who had married three times (incidentally, Sr. Colette, well known for her work with itinerants belonged to one of those families). Other Dwyer houses were Monea Lodge after the departure of the nuns to Stella Maris (both houses bought by Mrs Barry), Ard Carraig, the Anchorage, Star Cottage and two others were built, Four Winds and Green Shutters, Lady Dobbs had a house built on the New Line.
Murphys (relatives of the Dwyers) built Timber Tops. Other Cork-based families (merchant and professional) all closely associated with the Dwyers were the Maddens, Byrnes, Kearneys and the Murrays all coming annually for summer holidays.
The bus service improved in the 40's; it was in to the 50's before cars became universal and these factors were a great fillip to the tourist trade. There were a few hotels and guesthouses but it is only quite recently that restaurants have been firmly established.
There are three caravan sites and these bring a big influx of summer visitors. Perks Amusements in the 70's and 80's were very much appreciated by the younger folk, who look forward to their possible re-establishment. Bathing, boating and angling are of course important.
A major focus of tourist interest is the Round Tower, the old cathedral and Beannachán with special emphasis on what has been described as 'the most extensive collection of architectural sculptures to survive anywhere in Ireland since the 12th century'. This is the array of carvings on the west gable of the ruined cathedral. St. Declan's Well and the old ruined church on the cliff is another tourist venue and this is on the well-known cliff walk, a wonderful scenic trip (way-marked) which in the space of about an hour, bring one round to the Round Tower at the other end. Even in the middle of winter, one finds walkers on this route every day, and indeed in the middle of winter one finds visitors at the Round Tower complex.
So we really have the basis of a very good tourist trade in Ardmore, sea, sand, superb cliff scenery and interesting historical remains. We have the best of several worlds, and it behoves us to keep a watchful eye on our treasures.
Author: Siobhan Lincoln