Átha an Chiste
Countryside near Ahakista
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Ahakista (Irish: Átha an Chiste) is located approximately halfway along the Sheep's Head peninsula between Durrus and Kilcrohane in County Cork, Ireland. It is a wooded coastal village with a deep and sheltered harbour.
Air India disaster
The Air India Memorial Garden is located here and each June the local community remembers the terrorist attack of 1985 that resulted in the deaths of over 300 people. Just after 08:00 on Sunday 23 June 1985 an Air India Boeing 747 flying from Canada to India with 329 people on board – most of them Canadian citizens of Indian origin – was approaching the southwest coast of Ireland when it was blown apart by a bomb, killing everyone on board.
In the days that followed, a huge search was carried out by ships, planes and helicopters. Only about half the bodies were ever recovered and they were brought to the Regional Hospital in Cork. Shortly afterwards, many relatives of the dead flew from India and Canada and travelled by bus along the coast in order to be near to the place where their loved ones died. At Ahakista, they stopped and threw wreaths into the sea. They expressed a wish that some type of memorial be erected to commemorate the disaster and in the months that followed, Cork County Council purchased this site and built a memorial. It was officially opened on 23 June 1986 at a ceremony attended by the Foreign Ministers of Ireland, India and Canada.
A commemoration is held each year on 23 June at 08:00. The sundial, designed by Cork sculptor, Ken Thompson, is the focal point of the garden and the sun hits the dial at the exact minute of the explosion.
Ahakista has a church and two pubs – both with beer gardens and sea views. One pub is known as the 'tin pub'. Other amenities include a wine shop, two Bed and Breakfasts, several self-catering accommodations (two of which are known as "Ahakista Escape") and a garden centre. There is a small sandy beach, and the 90 kilometres (56 miles) Sheep's Head Way marked trail crosses through the village. In August 2008 this Walkway became one of the first four publicly funded walkways in Ireland – following agreement between the Department of Rural Affairs and the Irish Farmers Association.
Ahakista has a primary school and there is daily transportation to secondary schools in Bantry. The local primary school is called Rusnachara National School, and had 26 pupils as of 2013.
The sheltered deep water harbour is home to both fishing boats and pleasure craft and the annual Ahakista Regatta is held each August bank holiday weekend.
- Wolf Mankowitz (writer, playwright and screenwriter) lived for many years in Ahakista, till his death in 1998
- Noel Streatfeild (author) spent many summers in Ahakista. The screen version of her children's book "The Growing Summer" (also published as "The Magic Summer") was filmed on the peninsula (Ahakista, Kilcrohane) and in Bantry. Several scenes were shot in the actual places she had envisaged when writing the book. London Weekend Television produced the six-episode serial in 1969, starring Wendy Hiller as Aunt Dymphna. The film won a silver medal at the 1969 Venice Film Festival.
- Graham Norton (comedian and talk show host) owns a holiday home with a private beach in Ahakista which overlooks the harbour and Dunmanus Bay.
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Notes and references
- While the Placenames Commission offers no official Irish derivation, bilingual signs entering and within the village read "Átha an Chiste".
- "Gorteanish (Stone Circle) | Ireland". The Modern Antiquarian.com. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
- "Irish, Canadian leaders pay homage to victims of the Kanishka crash". The Hindu. 24 June 2005. Archived from the original on 27 August 2006.
- "Whole School Evaluation Report - Rusnacahara National School, Ahakista" (PDF). education.ie. Department of Education. 14 October 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
- The Writers Directory. London 1973