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Muckross employees at risk of redundancy

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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’.

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Garda appeal to park legally at beaches and public amenities

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An Garda Siochana is appealing to the public to park legally in designated car parks and spaces when visiting beaches, beauty spots and other public amenities. 

The good weather has seen an increase in dangerous illegal parking at these locations across the country in recent weeks. An Garda Siochana wants people to enjoy the summer but do so safely.

Parking illegally can lead to unnecessary risk and dangers such as pedestrians being forced to walk along dangerous roads. It can also prevent emergency services from gaining access to these amenities a seaside locations which could lead to the loss of life. 

“We encourage the public to plan their journeys and think safety first when parking your vehicle,” the Gardai said in a statement. 

“The outcome of parking illegally could be far more serious than a FCPN or vehicle towing and puts others and your own life at risk. 

An Garda Siochana reminds and encourages the public to social distance and follow public health guidelines when attending these locations this Summer.

An Garda Siochana is also supporting National Water Safety Awareness Week (June 14th – 20th). Information on this campaign and general water safety can be found on Water Safety Irelands Website – www.watersafety.ie/national-water-safety-awareness-week/

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IFTA nomination for Jessie Buckley

By Michelle Crean  Killarney’s Jessie Buckley is up for an award as the 2021 Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA) nominations were announced this week. Jessie has been nominated as Best Actress in a Lead Role Film category for her work in Charlie Kaufman’s surreal ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’. Winners will be announced at […]

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By Michelle Crean
 

Killarney’s Jessie Buckley is up for an award as the 2021 Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA) nominations were announced this week.

Jessie has been nominated as Best Actress in a Lead Role Film category for her work in Charlie Kaufman’s surreal ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’. Winners will be announced at a virtual IFTA awards ceremony which will be broadcast on Virgin Media One on Sunday, July 4.

Other well-known Irish actors up for awards include Brendan Gleeson for ‘The Comey Rule’, Paul Mescal for ‘Normal People’, Dervla Kirwan ‘Smother’ and Gabriel Byrne for ‘Death of a Ladies Man’.

Over the past few months during lockdown, the Irish Academy Members have been busy viewing, deliberating, and shortlisting the very best work from across great Irish films, performances, and achievements.

Nominations have been shortlisted by Irish Academy members alongside a specialist jury panel of industry experts from around the world.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no physical IFTA Awards Ceremony until March 2022, in keeping with COVID guidelines and best international practice.

Further details about the show and the international guest participants will be announced shortly.

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Four week wait for Dublin/Kerry replacement airline

By Sean Moriarty  It will take at least four weeks before a replacement airline can cover the Dublin/Kerry route following the sudden collapse of Stobart Air last weekend. However, it is not all bad news for Kerry Airport as Ryanair will resume its Kerry Stansted service from today (Friday). The budget airline is advancing plans […]

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By Sean Moriarty
 

It will take at least four weeks before a replacement airline can cover the Dublin/Kerry route following the sudden collapse of Stobart Air last weekend.

However, it is not all bad news for Kerry Airport as Ryanair will resume its Kerry Stansted service from today (Friday).

The budget airline is advancing plans to resume all its Kerry services with the Frankfurt Hahn route set to be the first international service on July 18.

All other routes including Berlin, Faro, Alicante and Manchester will return bit by bit once international travel restrictions are lifted.

The Killarney Advertiser understands that up to eight airlines have expressed an interest in taking over the Dublin/Kerry route.

Airport staff were left reeling last Saturday morning when it emerged that Stobart Air had collapsed.

The UK airline operated the Dublin/Kerry franchise on behalf of Aer Lingus Regional. It had seven months left to run on its contract with Isle of Man based carrier Ettyl due to take over the route later this year. It has since been confirmed that Ettyl does not have the necessary funding in place to take over the service.

As a result, Kerry Airport will be left without a Dublin connection for the best part of four weeks. It is expected that Aer Lingus will take over the route for the remainder of Stobart’s seven month contract.

“This may seem like a long time, but in airline terms and because it is a Government funded route, this is actually very fast, faster than ever imagined,” Airport CEO, John Mulhern, told the Killarney Advertiser.

“This is being done as fast as humanly possible. The Government was able to put all its bureaucracy aside and make this happen. Thanks to Norma Foley, Brendan Griffin and Pa Daly, they were all on the case at 6am last Saturday morning. We are happy things are happening so fast – we are not happy to lose Stobart, they were a great airline and great friends – but happy to see solutions are coming so quickly.”

Thanks to the efforts of local politicians, the procurement process for finding an alternative airline has been speeded up. Tender documents are expected to be published early next week – much sooner than normal circumstances – and at least eight airlines have already expressed an interest in the route.

Meanwhile, Ryanair’s return to normality continues at Kerry Airport. The Luton service has been operating on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the last two weeks.

The Stansted service is due to return today (Friday) and will operate Mondays and Fridays for the foreseeable future. German services will resume next month.

“Ryanair will start with Frankfurt Hahn and as they slowly get back on their feet all other services, Berlin, Manchester, Faro and Alicante, will return,” added Mr Mulhern.

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