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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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Replacement carrier could be in place by the end of July

By Michelle Crean   Ministers Ryan and Naughton briefed the cabinet on the plans this morning (Tuesday). The move comes after the news on Sunday that Stobart Air, which operated the Kerry-Dublin service, was to cease trading with immediate effect.  The Department today said that it will issue a request for quotes directly to airlines in the coming […]

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By Michelle Crean 
 

Ministers Ryan and Naughton briefed the cabinet on the plans this morning (Tuesday).

The move comes after the news on Sunday that Stobart Air, which operated the Kerry-Dublin service, was to cease trading with immediate effect. 

The Department today said that it will issue a request for quotes directly to airlines in the coming days, in accordance with applicable EU rules on air service Public Service Obligations (PSOs), and taking account of legal advice. It is anticipated that the emergency procurement process will be completed by early July, with a view to services being restarted by the new operator(s) as soon as possible thereafter. The contract will be subject to a maximum term of seven months and will operate in accordance with EU law.

PROCUREMENT PROCESS

In tandem, the Department will launch a procurement process for a maximum of four years for the continued provision of the services, which will apply after the temporary contract has expired. This will mitigate against any disruption to these services once the emergency contract expires.

The Department recognises the importance of restoring regional connectivity to these airports in advance of the reopening of international travel on July 19 and continues to engage closely with aviation stakeholders in this regard.

Education Minister and Fianna Fáil TD for Kerry, Norma Foley, has welcomed today’s Cabinet commitment to make the Kerry Dublin PSO route a priority.

“The restoration of our regional connectivity is of critical importance to the people of Kerry,” Minister Foley said.

“Transport Minister Eamon Ryan confirmed to me his intentions to seek an expedited tendering process which aims to have a replacement carrier in place by mid-end of July.

“I am confident Government will continue to engage as a priority with relevant stakeholders until a suitable resolution is reached for the benefit of Kerry and the south-west region.”

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Free career webinar for parents of Leaving Cert students

  A free webinar takes place online tomorrow (Wednesday) for parents of Leaving Cert students to best advise them with CAO choices. Niamh Dwyer, Guidance Counsellor and Careers Advisor at My Career Plan, will advise ‘How to help your teen with the CAO Change of Mind & Career Decisions’ at 7pm. This webinar will highlight and explain the […]

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A free webinar takes place online tomorrow (Wednesday) for parents of Leaving Cert students to best advise them with CAO choices.

Niamh Dwyer, Guidance Counsellor and Careers Advisor at My Career Plan, will advise ‘How to help your teen with the CAO Change of Mind & Career Decisions’ at 7pm.

This webinar will highlight and explain the important things that parents need to know to help their son/daughter use the CAO Change of Mind facility correctly ahead of the final deadline on July 1 at 5.15pm and to explore the many career options open to them after Leaving Cert.

“This is a very stressful time for Leaving Cert students and parents, and the main focus right now is on getting through the exams after a challenging two years,” Niamh said. “The final deadline for CAO is approaching and it is essential that students have finalised their course choices – knowing what to do is critical, that’s where I can help!

“In this one hour webinar I am going to walk through the steps of how the CAO Change of Mind facility works, what happens at the CAO Offer stage, what students need to do to make sure that they have the best chance to secure a college place in autumn 2021, and the common mistakes to avoid when using the CAO Change of Mind. I will also highlight the many other options that are available outside of CAO.”
 

This training is for parents of Leaving Cert students who:

Are confused and want to learn about how the CAO system works.

Are worried that their son/daughter will make a mistake with filling up the CAO Change of Mind facility.

Want to reduce the stress their son/daughter is feeling right now and support them in making this very important career decision.

Are worried that their son/daughter may not get the course they want.

Want to know about career options outside of CAO.

To join the webinar go to: 
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/5316227987750/WN_t7NhIRaFSc-GU6ycjdAyRA

For further details or clarification contact Niamh Dwyer on 087 9801105 or info@mycareerplan.ie.

Check updates on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @mycareerplan1, or go to www.mycareerplan.ie.

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Darren completes epic run for Crumlin

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By Grigoriy Geniyevskiy

A senior player and coach with Killarney Athletic has completed an epic challenge for Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

Darren O’Sullivan ran four miles every four hours for 48 hours over the long weekend to raise the funds.

He completed his final run from Port Road and made his way onto Countess Road and Rookery Road before finishing by Woodlawn Road. Darren started his run on Saturday at 4pm and completed his run on Monday at 4pm – and has raised a total of €953.

Darren said that he was raising money for the Children’s Health Foundation Crumlin as it is close to his heart because he has seen them help so many children and their families.

Darren had been training for three weeks to be able to complete the run.

“Getting up in the morning and starting the run was the hardest part,” he said.

“I would like to thank Killarney Athletic for supporting me. Thank you to those who donated and I was also thinking of doing something similar next year, I’d love to do it again.”

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