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Skywalker Emma leads the way as Kerry gets set to sale new heights

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IRELAND’S longest “skywalk rope bridge” has been introduced along the Ring of Kerry. This new visitor attraction, at Kells Bay House & Gardens, is poised to further boost visitor numbers in the county.

Kells Bay House & Gardens is renowned worldwide as the breath-taking tropical jewel on the Ring of Kerry and it is about to become even more popular with the opening of Ireland’s longest rope bridge.

Five months’ work at Kells Bay House & Gardens culminates in the opening within the next fortnight of the aptly named ‘The Skywalk’ visitor attraction. The Skywalk rope bridge spans 112 feet and has been erected over the stunning Delligeenagh River at a height of approximately 36 feet. The new attraction is just an hour from Killarney on the Skellig Coast on the breath-taking Wild Atlantic Way.

Planted 160 years ago, the Kells Bay estate already includes a profusion of rare, Southern Hemisphere plants, a breath-taking waterfall, tree sculptures and bamboo gardens and is home to Ireland’s largest palm tree, an 11 tonne specimen with a 7.5 metre trunk.

While Kells Bay House & Gardens is already a haven for gardening enthusiasts, The Skywalk is set to further broaden its appeal to younger visitors, families and tours. It will be a major boost to the site which already attracts 10,000 plus visitors annually and provides up to 10 jobs in the local community at peak times. It is hoped that visitor numbers will exceed 15,000 with the addition of The Skywalk. It will be officially opened on April 7 by Sir Tim Smit, famous for his work with The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the world-renowned Eden Project in the UK, and opens to the public the following day, April 8.

Owners Billy and Penn Alexander say the inspiration for The Skywalk came from trips they made to the rainforest and jungle plant exploration over several years. Similar constructions are popular throughout South-East Asia where this type of bridge is often referred to as a Burmese Rope Bridge, Billy Alexander explained.

“Whereas all the site preparation, foundations and steel work from which the bridge is suspended was completed using local materials and expertise, the bridge was fabricated and hung by a team of specialists from abroad,” Billy said.
The multiple gold medal winner at the Annual Bloom Garden Festival says they continue to invest in the attraction and they hope it will further boost tourism in what is an exceptionally beautiful and unspoilt part of the world. Since they bought Kells Bay House & Gardens in 2006, they have invested €2 million plus in the site.

The Gardens at Kells Bay are situated at the start of the Skellig Coast, at one of the most spectacular vistas along the Wild Atlantic Way.

“The Gardens are the key driver in encouraging visitors to turn off the N70 Ring of Kerry road and discover the beautiful beach, the pier the mountains and seclusion that Kells has to offer. Over the last decade we have overcome many fiscal and floral challenges at Kells Bay and with the advent of the Skywalk, we stand on the cusp of securing the future of this fantastic place,” Billy added.

Billy’s wife, Penn, was born in Southern Thailand and began cooking at an early age. She opened the Sala Thai restaurant in the refurbished hunting lodge on the site in 2013. It is now renowned as one of Kerry’s finest dining experiences and offers breath-taking views of Dingle Bay from the Terrace Café.

The hub also includes Kells Bay Gardens Plant Centre. It is very much an enthusiast-owned nursery that specialises in the import of Tree Ferns and other rare and unusual exotics from around the world. The current plant range is comprised largely of unusual and rare plants from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Chile.
All of the plants on sale are growing in the gardens and the staff have first-hand experience of all the plants in stock.
 


 
Above: Skywalker Emma O’Connor (7) was one of the first children to try The Skywalk. PICTURE: VALERIE O'SULLIVAN

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Killarney girl has an important part to play in Rose Festival

By Michelle Crean A little Killarney girl has had her dreams come true after being selected as a Rose Bud in this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival. Chloe Nott […]

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By Michelle Crean

A little Killarney girl has had her dreams come true after being selected as a Rose Bud in this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival.

Chloe Nott (7) from Fossa was thrilled to find out that she has been paired with Arizona Rose Sophie Owen.

She’s now super excited as the Festival kicks off tonight (Friday) and is looking forward to being part of the big parades which attract thousands to the streets of Tralee tomorrow (Saturday) and again on Sunday.

“We found out about three weeks ago, she was picked from hundreds from all around the country,” Chloe’s mom Gemma told the Killarney Advertiser.

Last Saturday the Rose Buds came together for the first time in the Meadowlands Hotel in Tralee where they met the Kerry Rose Édaein O’Connell and received their sashes.

Tonight (Friday) they’ll enjoy a party in the Meadowlands and have a busy weekend meeting and greeting people when they take part in the Festival’s activities including a trip to the Kingdom Greyhound Stadium.

“I’m so excited to meet my Arizona Rose,” Chloe, who is going into Second Class in Fossa National School, said.

Gemma and her husband Eric and son Luke (9) went to Reidys in Killarney to tell Chloe the exciting news.

“My mom gave me a rose and told me I was a Rose Bud. After she told me I was bursting with excitement.”

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Killarney Races celebrates 200 years

Killarney Races celebrated 200 years of racing yesterday during the opening day of AugustFest, an exciting three-day summer horse-racing festival that will run until tomorrow (Saturday) inclusive. Kerry Senior Football Captain […]

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Killarney Races celebrated 200 years of racing yesterday during the opening day of AugustFest, an exciting three-day summer horse-racing festival that will run until tomorrow (Saturday) inclusive.

Kerry Senior Football Captain Sean O’Shea, with a host of fellow teammates and back-room staff, escorted Sam Maguire to the racecourse arriving by jaunting cart to take part in the bi-centenary celebrations.

Racegoers of all ages were thrilled to get up close with the Sam Maguire Cup and our fantastic Kerry football legends.

AugustFest at Killarney Races offers patrons great racing, history, socialising, entertainment and so much more at Ireland’s most scenic racecourse. A special bi-centenary admission package was available on the opening day offering patrons admission, a racecard and a €5 free bet all for €20 which went down a treat with punters. With many bringing their jerseys and cameras along to make the most of the double celebrations at the Kerry track.

The first race at Killarney Racecourse was recorded in 1822. In the early days, the meetings were supported by Lord Clanmorris and the Earl of Kenmare, the feature race being the Kenmare Stakes from 1826 to 1830. The current racing venue located at Ross Road held its first race meeting on 20 July 1936 and Ontario was the first ever winner at the track, winning the 1½ mile handicap hurdle, in the hands of jockey Willie O’ Grady.

During the August racing festival, a special commemorative marquee featuring a wonderful collection of memorabilia and photographs from the last 200 years is open to all in attendance for the duration of the festival.

“We celebrated a major milestone here at Killarney Races, two hundred years of racing in Killarney which is amazing,” Killarney Racecourse Chairman, Gerard Coughlan said.

“I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all locals and visitors to Killarney to come along and be part of the 200 year celebrations during AugustFest!

With two more fantastic days of racing in store and lots of ticket levels and packages including food and beverage options to choose from, whether it is close to the action general admission tickets or silver service fine dining, there is something for everyone at Killarney Races. Live music, fashion, and fun for all the family complement the best of summer racing at the track this August.

Patrons are advised to book online and come along early to enjoy the stunning views, facilities, delicious food, live music on the lawn and soak up the boutique festival atmosphere for which Killarney Races is famous.

Adult tickets and packages are available from €20 and children under 14 go free ensuring a great day out for all the family. For those who love a deal, the punter’s pack is a great value-added option and if you want to live it up check out the Maurice O’Donoghue Suite and Panoramic Restaurant options. For all ticket details and festival programme information visit killarneyraces.com.

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