By Donal Hickey, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Muckross House, Gardens and Traditional Farms
Like every other visitor-orientated operation, Muckross – a partnership between the State and a voluntary board of trustees - had a ‘challenging’ 2020, but there are hopes of some sort of recovery in 2021.
The outlook for the coach tour business and overseas visitors, however, is poor and many places will again be looking to Irish people to make up for these losses in some way.
In ‘normal’ years, between 110,000 and 120,000 people visit the House, and around 70,000 to the Farms.
Last summer in Killarney, we had a large influx of Irish people, families in particular, which compensated in part for the lack of other visitors and the year overall would be far worse only for that.
The immediate priority in Muckross is to recover from the adverse effects of COVID-19, to get the business moving again and to safeguard employment. The Muckross trustees employ around 65 people and at least as many more are taken on as seasonal staff.
The house was built in 1843 and, given its age, ongoing and expensive maintenance works are required.
The restaurant, craft shop, weaving, pottery, bookbinding, research library and farms are run by the trustees, but the trustees have no responsibility for the National Park.
Most of the big projects by the trustees, in recent years, involved work to the House, including the restoration of all the windows and repairs to the roof and chimney at a cost of around €1.2m. Work was also done to the basement of the house, including the old laundry and servants’ dining hall, at a further cost of €0.47m.
A capital project currently nearing completion in the restoration of the old Victorian stables which also involves the provision of new toilets and refurbished offices upstairs.
In the next few years, the focus will switch to the Traditional Farms which were opened almost 30 years ago. Repair and maintenance work is needed there, especially to the old houses. That work would be phased over a number of a years. The schoolhouse was the last major project on the Farms, seven years ago.
The Farms will be open in 2021 and we hope that more visitor activities can take place there than was the case in 2020, when people were just allowed walk through the place. The level of activities on the Farms in 2021 will, of course, depend on what’s permitted under COVID-19 restrictions.
I’d be hopeful of a general improvement in 2021, particularly in the second half of the year, and am confident Muckross will bounce back once ‘normality’ returns.
Major new capital projects are unlikely to begin in the short-term, however. Priorities include new and upgraded car parking facilities and the restoration of the glasshouses, which are well over 100-years-old.
But, ambitious plans for a multi-million Euro boating museum, based on the history and lore of the fabled Lakes of Killarney, have definitely been pushed further down the road by the present crisis.
Develop skills and improve employability
By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors Traineeships are developed and delivered on an ongoing basis by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) nationwide and are open to potential participants of all ages and backgrounds including school leavers, mature learners and those in or seeking employment. Developed in partnership with industry representatives […]
By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors
Traineeships are developed and delivered on an ongoing basis by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) nationwide and are open to potential participants of all ages and backgrounds including school leavers, mature learners and those in or seeking employment.
Developed in partnership with industry representatives and employers, these programmes combine learning in the classroom with a minimum of 30 percent of learning on-the-job. The focus is on ‘learning on the go’ and developing perspectives that are in tune with the ever evolving world of work. They span across a range of industry sectors including business and retail, media, manufacturing, agriculture, horticulture and mariculture, care, construction, engineering, animal science, fashion and beauty, finance, ICT, hospitality, sports and leisure, and logistics.
At the core of the scheme is a strong collaboration with the ETBs in the provision of work-based learning opportunities on existing and new programmes. Traineeships lead to an award at Levels 4-6 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and are between six to 24 months in duration. Over 75 programmes are available nationwide – although not all of them will be available nationally at all times – and the content, award and duration may vary. They are designed for flexible delivery to include online, face-to-face and blended learning.
Second level or higher education students who are interested in participating in a Traineeship Programme should contact their local ETB, adult learners should contact the Adult Education Guidance Service through their local ETB, and jobseekers will be able to access information through their local Intreo Office or Local Employment Service. For those currently unemployed, a training allowance or income support may be available. You can check out the range of opportunities offered through Traineeships nationwide on www.fetchcourses.ie and more locally check out the www.kerrycollege.ie.
Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant – For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Return to work courses
Answer: Springboard+ provides free higher education courses for people who are unemployed (or were self-employed) and those looking to return to the workforce. Courses are offered in different areas including Information and Communications Technology (ICT), medical technologies, cybersecurity, sustainable energy and financial services. The courses range from certificate to master’s degree level – Levels 6 […]
Answer: Springboard+ provides free higher education courses for people who are unemployed (or were self-employed) and those looking to return to the workforce.
Courses are offered in different areas including Information and Communications Technology (ICT), medical technologies, cybersecurity, sustainable energy and financial services.
The courses range from certificate to master’s degree level – Levels 6 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). Most of the courses are part-time and last for one year or less, but there are some full-time courses.
You can access a free Springboard+ course, if you are getting a qualifying social welfare payment such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Jobseeker’s Benefit or the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). You can get a full list of qualifying payments for Springboard+ on citizensinformation.ie
If you are not getting a qualifying social welfare payment, you will have to meet the residency criteria for Springboard+.
You can also apply for a Springboard+ course if:
* You are a qualified adult of working age (under 66) on someone else’s social welfare payment
* You are signing for social insurance credits
* You are on an employment support scheme such as Community Employment (CE) or TUS
To apply for a Springboard+ course, you choose the course(s) you are interested in on springboardcourses.ie and apply online, following the instructions on the website. You can apply for up to 10 courses, but you can only take one course.
If you are getting a social welfare payment, you should notify your Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office and check what further steps (if any) you need to take.
If Springboard+ doesn’t meet your needs, there are several other ways to go back to education.
During COVID-19, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:
Tralee on Tel: Call 0761 07 7860, Monday – Friday (10am-4pm)
The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer
Develop skills and improve employability
By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors Traineeships are developed and delivered on an ongoing basis...
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Return to work courses
Answer: Springboard+ provides free higher education courses for people who are unemployed (or were self-employed) and those looking to return...
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