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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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Gaelscoil pupils compete in Fleadh for the first time

By Michelle Crean It was their first time entering Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí but Gaelscoil Faithleann pupils proved they’ve got talent as they made it to the next stage of the […]

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By Michelle Crean

It was their first time entering Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí but Gaelscoil Faithleann pupils proved they’ve got talent as they made it to the next stage of the competition.

Muinteoir Treasa Uí Scannláin and Muinteoir Lisa Ni Iarlaithe prepared the children over the last two months on Thursday evenings after school.

For the competition 22 kids were entered in the Under 11 and 13 categories in the Comhra Gaeilge competition in Tralee.

Three of the Under 11s and three of the school’s Under 13s are now going forward to represent Chiarraí the Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan in Newcastle West on July 15.

“The standard was very high and it was our first time entering this competition. All of the children were representing Cill Airne Comhaltas,” Lisa said.

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Kilcummin has strong representation in Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí

Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí may have been absent in the live sense over the previous two years, however it returned over the last two weekends and it delivered with aplomb! The […]

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Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí may have been absent in the live sense over the previous two years, however it returned over the last two weekends and it delivered with aplomb!

The home of Kerry Comhaltas, the Dúchas Centre on the MTU campus in Tralee, was the host venue on the first weekend of the Fleadh, which accommodated the dancing competitions.

“We were spoiled with the spectacle of live dancing of the highest calibre accompanied by live music from accomplished musicians … food for the soul!” Derek O’Leary, Kilcummin CCE PRO, said.

“Much credit and thanks goes to the Moriarty School of Dancing, Mary, John and Adrian who represented Kilcummin CCE and prepared our teams to compete at the highest level.

“We also had such a great weekend in the singing and music competitions over the second weekend of Fleadh Cheoil Charraí, held in the Dúchas Centre and other areas of the MTU campus. All of our competitors performed to the highest standard in robust competition. Well done to all who competed and congratulations to all who go forward to represent Chiarraí the Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan, in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick from July 10 to 16.”

Kilcummin had strong representation throughout the dancing competition during the first weekend of Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí.

U12 Ladies 1st place and County Champions.

“Well done to our second U12 Ladies set who weren’t placed but danced beautifully.”

U12 Mixed 1st place & County Champions.
U12 mixed 2nd place.
15-18 Mixed 2nd place.
15-18 Ladies & Mixed Half set 3rd place
U12-15 Ladies 3rd place
Senior mixed half set 1st place and County Champions
Over 35’s 1st Place & County Champions

Kilcummin also excelled in the music and singing competitions of the second weekend of the Fleadh.

Eoin Foley – Accordion 1st place
Eoin Foley – Melodeon 2nd place
Aisling O’Connor – 1st place – Ladies O18 English Singing
Liam Kerrisk – 1st place – 15-18 Melodeon
Michael Healy – Button accordion (12-15) 1st place
Michael Healy – Melodeon (12-15) 1st place
Sean Butler – Button Accordion (12-15) 2nd place
Colleen Anland and Michael Healy – Duets (12-15) 1st place
Seán Fleming – Kerry Comhaltas U15 History Project 1st place

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