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Skellig Michael to reopen to visitors next month

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Skellig Michael will welcome visitors back to the island for the 2023 season on Saturday, May 13.

The Office of Public Works (OPW), which manages the UNESCO World Heritage site, stated that, as always, access will be dependent on favourable weather, sea and island conditions.

“I am very pleased to announce the reopening to visitors of this unique world heritage site for the summer season," Patrick O’Donovan TD, Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, said.

“Sceilg Mhichíl is one of Ireland’s most iconic heritage sites and plays an important role in the local tourism economy, which we are proud to support through this and other OPW sites in the county.”

Referencing the site’s participation in a global initiative to safeguard cultural landmarks from the effects of climate change, Minister O’Donovan said Sceilg Mhichíl is "undoubtedly one of the most challenging sites in the care of the OPW".

"Our team carries out tremendous work against the severe challenges of its location, isolation and unpredictable weather conditions to ensure safe access for visitors and the protection of the island’s heritage.”

Sceilg Mhichíl is one of 10 sites worldwide participating in the Preserving Legacies: A Future For Our Past project.

The project will equip communities worldwide with the tools to accurately anticipate and assess worsening and future climate impacts on culture, and help them turn that scientific knowledge into action to safeguard sites.

The OPW, National Monuments Service (NMS) and National Park and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will develop the scientific knowledge and technical training of site management teams and the local community at Sceilg Mhichíl to develop place and people-based climate change adaptation plans for the islands.

“As custodians of this World Heritage property we in the OPW, alongside NMS and NPWS, are privileged to work with others around the globe in this important project, strengthening our engagement with the community of south Kerry in terms of the island’s value and significance.”

All prospective visitors are encouraged to view the Sceilg Mhichíl Safety Video prior to booking a visit to the island to get an idea of what to expect.

For example, a visit to the monastery on the island will entail a climb of 618 steps, ascending over 600 ft. (180 metres). It is a demanding climb and any person with health issues should consider carefully their own physical limitations before exploring this part of the site.

Advance booking is essential and details can be found at https://heritageireland.ie/places-to-visit/Sceilg Mhichíl/

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Kerry rowing clubs flock to Killarney for the start of the coastal season

There was a fantastic spectacle of colour and rowing on Lough Leane last Sunday (June 16th) with the coastal rowing clubs of Kerry participating in the first ‘Head of the […]

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There was a fantastic spectacle of colour and rowing on Lough Leane last Sunday (June 16th) with the coastal rowing clubs of Kerry participating in the first ‘Head of the Lake’ time-trial for coastal one-design boats.

The event, hosted by the local Flesk Valley Rowing Club, signalled the start of the summer season for clubs rowing the coastal ‘one-design’ boats.

It was fitting that on the weekend that the Killarney National Park celebrated the 60th anniversary of the opening of Muckross House to the public, that hundreds of people also flocked to the Flesk Valley shore to appreciate and enjoy the splendour of the park.

Speaking after the event, Flesk Valley chairman, John Fleming thanked all the Kerry clubs who supported this new event and congratulated all the first-time rowers taking to the water in a competitive event for the first time.
“We were delighted to welcome our neighbouring clubs Workmens’ and Fossa, and look forward to renewing rivalries with them again at the Killarney Regatta at the end of this month,” he said.

“We would also like to thank Mary B. Teahan, Andrew Wharton, Johanna King and the Kerry Coastal Rowing Association for all their support and encouragement, and Denis O’Leary for coordinating safety on the water.”
Flesk Valley would also like to thank the Killarney National Park, Leanes Tool Hire, Hegartys Shop and Muckross Rowing Club for their support.

“This was a great start to the coastal rowing season, and augurs well for the months ahead as clubs build towards the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships to be held in Dingle at the end of August,” added the chairman.

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NPWS announces nature scholarships to mark ‘Muckross 60’

Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Niall O’ Donnchú, this week announced the inaugural ‘Muckross 60’ nature scholarships to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the opening of […]

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Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Niall O’ Donnchú, this week announced the inaugural ‘Muckross 60’ nature scholarships to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the opening of Muckross House and Gardens to the public. The scholarships will be funded and managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Niall O Donnchú said, “Killarney and Muckross have a very special place in Ireland’s heritage legacy, and  such beautiful gems need constant care, nurturing and indeed protecting by future generations. In supporting these third level scholarships, the NPWS is building the knowledge base of the future to assist those generations in continuing to realise the full beauty and nature value of the very unique Muckross House and Gardens and Killarney National Park.”

Mr O Donnchú added: “Killarney has a long history of scholarship, research and frontier work on nature and that continues to this day in the management of Killarney National Park and Muckross House and Gardens. The endowment of these annual scholarships is a very clear attestation that this crucial work continues to be undertaken across our national park system and especially here in Killarney and Muckross. This work has been pioneering in respect of wildlife and nature research and indeed the reintroduction of endangered species and the discovery, even this year, of more.”

Minister for Education and Kerry T.D. Norma Foley also welcomed new scholarships to mark the 60th anniversary of Muckross House.

“Muckross House is one of the jewels in the crown of Kerry tourism and received almost one million visitors last year. These scholarships will further add to our understanding of this outstanding part of our national heritage,” she said.

Muckross House was built by the Herbert family, who were local landlords. They became very wealthy during the 18th century due to the working of the copper mines on the Muckross Peninsula. They commenced the building of the present Muckross House in 1839. It was completed in 1843 at cost of £30,000, just two years prior to the Great Irish Famine. The Herbert family hosted the visit of Queen Victoria to Muckross House in 1861 but later got into financial difficulties and lost the house in 1897.

It was then bought by Lord Ardilaun, a member of the Guinness family. He in turn sold it in 1911 to William Bowers Bourn, a wealthy Californian gold miner. Bowers Bourn gave it to his daughter Maud as a wedding gift when she married Arthur Rose Vincent, an Irish barrister who later became a Senator.

After Maude died from pneumonia in 1929, Arthur Rose Vincent decided to donate Muckross house to the Irish nation as a memorial to his wife. Muckross House was transferred to the state in 1932 with its 11,000 acre estate and became Ireland’s first National Park in 1933.

The park and gardens were opened to the public but the house remained closed until 1964 when it was reopened as a folk museum on June 14, 1964 following a campaign by people in Killarney.

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