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Friary project set up to save endangered birds

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By Michelle Crean

A community project has been specifically created and installed at the Franciscan Friary to protect a species of endangered bird.

The nest boxes being fitted at the Franciscan Friary.

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16 nest boxes, produced locally by Stephan de Beer in his small factory, Genisis Nest Boxes in Currow, were put up on the church in readiness for the imminent return of swifts to town.

Leane’s Tool Hire Killarney, provided the machine and operator to reach the height that was needed to secure the boxes while Yvonne Quill and Kathleen Foley of Killarney Looking Good (Killarney Tidy Towns) provided the funding for the whole of project.

The idea for the project came about as the swifts (Apus apus) or Gabhlán gaoithe, a migratory species,
have recently been declared “of conservation concern” and are now on “the red list” in Ireland and the UK.

Swifts are about the same size as a swallow, but are a dark colour all over. They spend virtually all of their lives in the air and are never seen resting on wires, like swallows and house martins, who they might sometimes get confused with. They have tiny feet which do not allow them to move around easily on the ground, but do help them to cling to walls and cliffs. They are one of the fastest birds in flight in Ireland.

"Swifts pair for life and they return to the same site each year to lay and incubate their eggs," Chris Barron, from Killarney National Park Education Centre, said.

"They like to nest in houses and churches, squeezing through tiny gaps to nest inside roofs. But as more old buildings are knocked down or are renovated and the gaps in soffits and elsewhere that the swifts used are closed up, their natural nesting sites are fast disappearing and the provision of artificial nest boxes as an alternative, becoming more and more important."

Swifts eat only insects, which they catch and eat while they fly. The adult birds will catch insect prey and bring it back to the nest for the young. It is thought that with the numbers of insects declining so rapidly, that this is also contributing to the decline of the birds through less food being available to them and their chicks.

"In 2019, 13 active nests had been counted on the eastern side of the church, but it was discovered last year that these had been blocked up when renovations took place in 2020. When swifts are blocked out of a building that they have previously nested in, they are known to return for at least six years, trying to gain access. So, every year that they return and cannot get in, is another year that they are not able to breed."

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Killarney hotels are still open for business

By Sean Moriarty Only a few of the town’s 37 hotels are homing displaced people – according to Bernadette Randles, chair of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotel Federation. […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Only a few of the town’s 37 hotels are homing displaced people – according to Bernadette Randles, chair of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotel Federation.

This week she said that there’s still accommodation to be found in Killarney for visitors.

She was speaking in relation to the current accommodation situation facing International Protection Applicants and Ukrainian war refugees.

She explained that there is a perception that Killarney has taken in too many refugees and that it is putting the tourism industry at risk as people are starting to think that the town is at full capacity.

“If you can’t get a room in Killarney there is something wrong,” she said. “Maybe with the exception of New Year’s Eve.”

She added that hotels that are providing emergency accommodation are helping off-season unemployment.

Many hotels remain in survival mode after two years of pandemic turmoil and the additional off season business is important, she explained.

“Many could be closed at this time of the year, others would not be operating at full capacity,” she added.

However, she warned the Government needs to put a plan in place before the tourism season starts next year. Some hotels offering emergency accommodation either have a three or six month contract.

“I can see there will be tears next April – the Government must have a long-term plan,” she said.

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Homing refugees worth almost €14m

By Sean Moriarty Hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation suppliers in the Killarney area have secured contracts in excess of €13 million to accommodate Ukraine war refugees. The Department of Children, […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation suppliers in the Killarney area have secured contracts in excess of €13 million to accommodate Ukraine war refugees.

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth released figures to the Killarney Advertiser.

Documents show that contracts totalling €13,852,255.00 are being shared between 13 premises in the Killarney urban area.

However, the department warned these figures are “indicative” only and the full value of the contracts depends on “occupancy and actual usage”.

The Eviston Hotel has secured a contract worth €5,727,590.00, the Innisfallen Hotel in Fossa for €2,404,620.00 and The Hotel Killarney signed a deal worth €1,701,000.00. These are the three biggest contracts published in the documentation.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, and Department officials say more contracts could come on stream. Figures seen by the Killarney Advertiser only cover contracted premises up to the end of September this year and updated figures are only released every three months.

“We are in contract with far more, but the formal exchange of contracts can take place sometime after the service commences,” a department spokesperson told the Killarney Advertiser.

“The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is obliged to publish a list of contracts formally signed off each quarter that have been awarded under a special EU Derogation that permits the Department to enter into contracts in the context of the Ukraine accommodation crisis without going to formal tender.

“The values of the contracts shown are estimates; the actual value materialises upon occupancy and actual usage. Standard contracts have no-fault break clauses available to both parties so again, the figures are indicative rather than actual.”

These figures only cover Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war and do not include International Protection Applicants.

The Department refused to release International Protection Applicant figures to the Killarney Advertiser.

“The International Protection Applicant accommodation contract information is commercially sensitive information and is not available,” added the Department spokesperson.

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