JOBS RISK: The Trustees of Muckross House have implemented a number of cost saving options to ensure the survival of the organisation.
By Anne Lucey
The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is being asked to intervene in a decision to shut down the much loved Muckross Traditional Farms as the fall out from COVID-19 continues to hit tourism.
The farms are to close down indefinitely in September, and will operate on a very limited basis for the next two months, staff have been told.
Meetings are taking place to inform around 25 part-time and 12 full-time employees at the farm attraction that some redundancies are to be expected.
No seasonal staff are being taken on this year and there are cuts in pay across Muckross Farms and the restaurant and craft workshops at Muckross House, both of which are run by a Board of Trustees.
The news which emerged yesterday (Thursday), has come as a shock.
TD Danny Healy-Rae said not only were people going to lose their jobs, but the whole enterprise is the “bread and butter for Killarney” during the summer, autumn and Christmas programmes.
Substantial State money has been invested in the farms and they are a key attraction for Killarney, Mr Healy-Rae said.
“I am calling on Minister Josepha Madigan and the Department to intervene at once and defer the closure and re-look at this. This operation does not have to be profitable,” the TD said.
The 1930s style farm houses, school and organic farming practices using horses, featured strongly in the visit by Prince Charles and Camilla to Killarney in June 2018 during its 25th anniversary.
The royal couple lingered at the farm houses longer than expected and appeared to take greater interest in the traditional way of life of rural Ireland than in the grander Muckross House Museum where Charles’ ancestor Queen Victoria stayed in 1861.
Opened in May 1993, featuring replicas of the houses and crafts north of Killarney, the folk farm seasonal visitor numbers have increased to around 80,000 a year.
In a statement, the Trustees of Muckross House the charity which runs the traditional farms as well as the craft shops and restaurant at Muckross House said the board had deliberated for a long time.
The second half of the year would not be able to recover that lost since March.
'The Trustees have implemented a number of cost saving options and sadly more are required in order to ensure the survival of the organisation. Regretfully the Trustees have placed a small number of employees at risk of redundancy', a statement said.
“We are not immune to this devastating economic fall out,” the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Micheál O’Coileáin said.
It was not feasible to keep going in the current guise, he said, and there had to be serious restructuring. The Trustees were having to cut their cloth according to measure, he added.
Badly affected by the closure of the past months, the farm’s entertainment side was also affected by the downturn in corporate coach business and it may be two to three years before that business is recovered.
Around 70 staff between the restaurant and crafts in Muckross House and the traditional farms were employed. In addition 20 seasonal staff are usually taken on.
The concern was if matters were allowed to continue then all jobs would be threatened, Mr O’Coileáin said.
For July and August, because of social distancing and staff safety requirements, the farms will be free of charge (a family ticket usually cost €40) and will simply be a walk through area with the houses closed as well as the pet and playground areas.
The attraction is set to close indefinitely from September, the chairman confirmed.
It is not clear what will happen with the farm animals including the much loved Clydsdales horses and Irish Wolfhounds.
In a statement the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht said:
'The Traditional Farms is a commercial venture run by the Trustees of Muckross House not this Department. Any queries in relation to this matter should be directed to the Trustees. The decision with regard to future operation of the Farms was a commercial decision of the Trustees and not one the Department was party to'.
Further rise in house prices forecast for 2022 as average price of a resale home in the capital reaches €500,000
According to the latest residential market review and outlook from leading property advisors DNG, house prices are set to continue rising this year, following the strong growth in values recorded in 2021. At a national level (excluding Dublin) the DNG National Price Gauge (NPG) recorded an increase in the average price of a second hand […]
According to the latest residential market review and outlook from leading property advisors
DNG, house prices are set to continue rising this year, following the strong growth in values
recorded in 2021.
At a national level (excluding Dublin) the DNG National Price Gauge (NPG)
recorded an increase in the average price of a second hand home of 13.6% last year, a marked
acceleration in the rate of inflation compared to 2020 when prices rose by 1.4%.
At the national level (including Dublin) the overall rate of price increase last year stood at 12.0%. The NPG, which tracks house prices across the country on a half yearly basis, recorded growth of 5.3% in the six months to December 2021, compared to an increase of 7.9% in the first six months of last year.
All regions of Ireland recorded double digit price growth in 2021, except for Dublin (+9.9%).
Nationally, the strongest rate of house price appreciation was in the Mid-West region (+17.2%)
followed by the Midlands (+14.2%) and West (+13.8%) whilst the South East region saw the
lowest rate of growth in prices last year (+11.0%).
Outside the capital the highest average price was found in the Mid-East (€349,259) followed by the South West (€279,844).
Looking at the outlook for the year ahead, the agency forecasts further growth in prices both in
Dublin and nationally, with regional price gains set to outstrip those in the capital where nominal
values are already elevated, and affordability is more challenged.
The agency is forecasting an average uplift in regional markets of 12-13% this year whilst price growth in Dublin will more likely be high single digits, in the order of 6-8%.
The factors underpinning the forecasts include continued strong economic and wage growth, the heightened household savings levels seen in 2020-21, the extension of government initiatives for first time buyers announced in the budget, strong demand from this cohort evident in the mortgage approvals data and the prevailing low interest rate environment.
On the supply side, whilst the supply of new residential completions is set to increase to around 26,000 units this year, this will still be well below the estimated 30-35,000 new units required each year to meet demand thereby putting upward pressure on prices in the market.
“Whilst Covid-related issues rightly dominated the news agenda in 2021, housing undoubtedly came a close second, given the emotive nature of the housing debate and the current market dynamics of
rising house prices and rents and a shortage of accommodation available to buy or rent, not only
in Dublin but across the country.”, said DNG’s Director of Research Paul Murgatroyd said “Price growth was clearly very robust last year across all regions and the factors that drove those increases continue to be evident in the market as we enter 2022. The stock of homes for sale in the second hand market remains very low by historical standards and this, combined with the elevated level of demand, brought about in part by factors linked to changing behaviours throughout the pandemic, will mean further price appreciation will be evident as we progress through the year ahead.”
Iarnrod Eireann refuses plans for footbridge at railway station
By Sean Moriarty Iarnrod Eireann will not be providing a footbridge to allow pedestrian’s access Killarney Bus Station direct from Killarney Railway Station. Following a motion put forward by Cllr John O’Dongohue last year it was decided that Kerry County Council would write to the railway company about building a footbridge to link the two […]
By Sean Moriarty
Iarnrod Eireann will not be providing a footbridge to allow pedestrian’s access Killarney Bus Station direct from Killarney Railway Station.
Following a motion put forward by Cllr John O’Dongohue last year it was decided that Kerry County Council would write to the railway company about building a footbridge to link the two public transport hubs.
Currently rail passengers must walk from Killarney station, via the front entrance of the Great Southern Hotel and then walk the entire length of the Outlet Centre before reaching the bus station.
“It’s an anomaly that wouldn’t be tolerated in any other European country,” said Cllr O’Donoghue in November.
Iarnrod Eireann has responded to the letter sent shortly after the November meeting.
In reply the railway company said that in October 2019 it carried out a study which included the possibility of a either an underpass or a footbridge.
The study revealed that passenger would face a short four to five minute walk when trying to access one hub from another.
“Iarnrod Eireann would regard this as scheme as a low priority investment,” said chief executive Jim Meade in the letter.
Cllr Donoghue said the response was “ludicrous” and that he had often witnessed passengers lugging suitcases through the Outlet Centre.
“You would not jog it in five minutes,” he said.
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