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Is Killarney dealing with “over tourism”?

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Now this column prides itself on being sometimes ahead of the curve, nationally. Not that we do pride very well. Mostly we try to avoid what until recently at least was the greatest of sins and most offensive types of behaviour, in Christian as well as pagan cultures.

Anyway, imagine my surprise, after going for a breath of French air, to find the very issues raised in this publication not only touched on, but the main spread in the oldest and national daily in France, Le Fiagaro, last weekend.

“La Saturation menace les sites touristiques francais,” Figaro thundered on the front page. And this was followed by three full inside pages of analysis on Saturdays when the paper is at a premium of €5.30 and is most regarded. The article pulled no punches.

While the world focus is on Amsterdam, Barcelona and Venice, all of whom are taking measures to limit the number of visitors, tourist sites around the world are threatened. Already, popular French sites like Mont St Michel, villages that are marked as the prettiest in France and the Eiffel Tower itself are overwhelmed – it uses the word “hordes” of tourists.

The figures are stark. Today 95 per cent of tourists visit less than 5 per cent of the planet. Natural sites, historical sites and parks are declining as a result, and locals are getting angrier and angrier, Le Figaro has found.

The problems in the medieval walled city Carcassonne are immense and echo some of ours in Kerry.

Parking is a huge problem. So, too, toilets. Elsewhere towns and villages are taken over by just restaurants and bars and tourist shops and life is uncomfortable for locals and tourist alike. Carcassonne is spending €300,000 now on new public toilets and laying out a new car park outside the walls.

But the golden egg is being killed, the articles are warning. According to one craftsman in Carcassonne, he sells more in April when there are fewer tourists than in August when there are several times the numbers.

The figures Figaro presents are gob-smacking. In 1980, around the first time I visited France, the country got 30.1 million overseas visitors. Last year there were 87 million.

In Ireland our figures have increased by close to 3 million in ten years and we now get more than 9 million overseas tourists a year. But is there one extra car space at Torc? For that matter, are there three times the car spaces in Killarney? Are there more toilets in Inch?

Figaro has come up with a new term “surtourism” which I care to translate as “over tourism”, as in over-production in the farming sector. Figaro’s conclusion is governments are closing their eyes to the problems being posed. And in France, as in Ireland, the tourism strategy is to attract more and more overseas tourists and up the numbers.

Nobody is addressing the problems of saturation, it finds. And for the most part the problems are being ignored, and being shied away from by political leaders as well as industry leaders. We are to pretend the same sites that welcomed 500,000 can now cope with three times that number without blinking!

It also concludes, as argued in this column, that trying to spread the tourists to other sites (like the pound of butter) is not the solution because most tourists want to go to the well-known place. The challenge is limiting numbers, providing facilities and safeguarding the product.

Few serious newspapers are taking a serious look at the problem or looking properly at tourism, a major industry.

But, it seems, the Killarney Advertiser and the oldest newspaper in France have raised the thorny issue no one else wants to address. And it should be noted that while tourism is now Ireland’s major industry, it is so little seriously taken that a tourism ministry is a minor thing and no major newspaper or broadcaster has a tourism correspondent to monitor it. To paraphrase Leo, the gossip and whispers in the corridors of Leinster house has dozens of correspondents focussing on the rumour mill.

Now if only I could write better in French; Figaro and the Advertiser could have a twinning!

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Muckross Rowing Club members on Irish teams for two major regattas

  Six members of Muckross Rowing Club will compete for Ireland in two upcoming international events. Rowing Ireland this week announced the Irish squads for the Coupe de la Jeunesse […]

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Six members of Muckross Rowing Club will compete for Ireland in two upcoming international events.

Rowing Ireland this week announced the Irish squads for the Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta.

Daniel Fleming and Ian Coffey have both been selected for the Under 19 Irish squad to race at the Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta for European junior rowers. The Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta, involving 16 European countries, will be held over from over three days, August 9-11 in Racice, Czechia.

Four Under 23 university rowers from the Muckross club have also been selected as part of the Senior Irish squad for the Home International Regatta this month.

Niamh Coffey (University of Limerick), Patrick Buckley (University of Limerick), Finn O’Sullivan (University of Limerick) and Ethan O’Neill (University College Cork Rowing Club) will take on the ‘Triple Crown’ event of rowing, competing for Ireland against crews from England, Scotland and Wales.

The Home International Regatta will be held on Saturday, July 27 in Strathclyde, Scotland.

All six Muckross rowers have earned their green jerseys following a lengthy and testing trial series on land and water which began in Autumn 2023 and culminated in final water trials at the end of June.

“Muckross Rowing Club sends its best wishes to the very talented Muckross oarsmen and women and all their crewmates as they fly the flag for Ireland this summer. The talented group build on a successful record in the sport,” said club PRO Tim O’Shea.

Niamh Coffey is a multiple Irish and University Championship winner and has previously represented Ireland in the Under 23 European Championships.

In 2022, O’Neill rowed at Junior level at the Home International event and won a gold medal as part of the Irish quadruple scull crew in the 500m sprint event.

Both Buckley and O’Sullivan continue to compete at the highest level nationally with the University of Limerick Rowing Club,  and join the Irish squad for the first time this year.

The international selections come at an exciting time before the Olympic Regatta in Paris, where Zoe Hyde (Tralee Rowing Club) will be among the largest Irish rowing contingent of 16 rowers to contest an Olympic Games.

Killorglin native Zoe has previously rowed for both Killorglin and Muckross rowing clubs and will race the Women’s Double event for Ireland with Alison Bergin (Fermoy Rowing Club) in Paris.

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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally

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Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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