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Sportif to unlock Kerry’s potential as must-visit cycling destination

THE Minister of State for Tourism and Sports Brendan Griffin TD announced today that Fáilte Ireland is teaming up with cycling specialists Ride Wild (www.ridewild.ie) to launch the Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif.

Killarney Advertiser

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THE Minister of State for Tourism and Sports Brendan Griffin TD announced today that Fáilte Ireland is teaming up with cycling specialists Ride Wild (www.ridewild.ie) to launch the Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif.

This is a series of bi-annual cycling events along the coastal route (from Kinsale in West Cork to Muff in Donegal and running through Kerry), which will promote the Wild Atlantic Way as a cycling destination internationally and domestically as well as attract visitors across the full length of the route during off-season months.

An inaugural ride will take place along the route this September and a further two events per year will take place from 2018 to 2020. The Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif route map is attached and can also be viewed in Note to Editor. The route map has been developed by Ride Wild as the most suitable along the coast for cyclists but will be subject to change as the event grows.

“The Wild Atlantic Way is ideal for initiatives like this and the additional tourism activity generated will benefit many small rural communities all along the west coast including many in County Kerry,” said Minister Griffin. “I am particularly pleased to welcome an event which has the potential to attract visitors and increase bed-nights across Kerry during off-peak times of the year. I am sure that when participants cycle through the county, they will be stunned by our great landscapes and the warm welcome on offer.”

Fáilte Ireland is planning to invest €650,000 in the initiative between now and 2020, with the ambition to grow the average number of cyclists per day from 400 in 2018 to 1,000 per day in 2020. It is hoped that, if the initiative becomes popular, it will become self-financing.

Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly today emphasised that cycling has great potential for tourism. Research indicates that the average cycling tourist spends an average of five nights attending a sportif event. Nearly 400 official cycling sportifs take place in Ireland each year – along with many more local events – and the number of events is growing each year. In the UK alone, over two million adults cycle at least once a week and sales of high-quality road bikes have grown 24% on last year. The location of a sportif is a key driver for this type of visitor and research has revealed that 81% of potential sports tourists would identify the Wild Atlantic Way as having a strong (45%) or very strong (36%) appeal for them.

Explaining the benefit for tourism of the Cycling Sportif, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly today said: “We have our own natural cycling route along the Wild Atlantic Way and I would imagine every cycling enthusiast would love to hop on a bike and enjoy its unique landscapes. Through the Wild Atlantic Way Cycle we are creating an added incentive for them. We are developing the logistics and events along the route that, I believe, will build a strong reputation for the Wild Atlantic Way as an attractive cycling destination. Indeed, if we get this right, the Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif will become a ‘must-do’ item for international and domestic cyclists.”

Mr Kelly also emphasised that developing the cycling initiative made good economic sense in terms of tourism. He said: “If we can meet our visitor targets, we estimate that the cycle sportif could generate over €13m and up to 50,000 bed nights. Importantly, we will also be generating significant visitor activity in off-season months which will help businesses stay open longer. This is a real bonus for areas that are outside the traditional tourist hot spots.”

Mr Kelly added that the initiative will be targeting a mix of domestic and international visitors but he expected increasing numbers of overseas cyclists to attend over the next few years as awareness builds.

Participants in the Sportif will have the option of covering the full distance (over 2,000km) over a set number of days, completing a stage of the Sportif over a multi-day section of the route or joining the event for a single day.

Organiser Ride Wild, a cycling tour company, will provide all logistics for participating cyclists and entry to the multi-day events will include accommodation, meals, official cycling kit including cycling jersey and shower jacket, kit laundry service, and bag transfers as well as paramedic and mechanical support during the cycle. The costs for these services will be included in cyclists’ registration fee.

The Wild Atlantic Way Cycle Sportif will take place bi-annually every April and September from 2018 to 2020. However, this September 13-29, Ride Wild is organising a pilot event and all interested cyclists and clubs are invited to saddle up and be the first to embark on what will soon be Europe’s signature cycling route.

The web page for September’s event can be accessed here: www.wildatlanticwaycyclesportif.ie The route of the Sportif will also be available online on popular cycling platforms Ride with GPS, Map My Ride, and Strava.

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Killarney hotels dominate Tripadvisor Top 25 list

Michelle Crean

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VOTED THE BEST: The Killarney Park Hotel team pictured celebrating yesterday (Thursday) after the hotel was named number one in Tripadvisor’s Top 25 Hotels in Ireland this week.

By Michelle Crean

Four Killarney hotels proved that they are amongst the best in Ireland after being named in the top 25 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice ‘Best of the Best’ this week.

Ranked number one is the Killarney Park Hotel, followed closely by Old Weir Lodge at number six, the Killarney Royal at number 14 and the International Hotel which came in 19th place.

Other Kerry hotels were listed including Manor West Hotel at number three, the Meadowlands Hotel at number nine, and Ballygarry Hotel and Spa which placed number 11. It’s a huge boost to the industry as all have had a difficult year due to COVID.

“We are thrilled with this award, it is a huge testimony to the genuine warmth and hospitality our team deliver every day,” Niamh O’Shea, General Manager of The Killarney Park Hotel told the Killarney Advertiser.

“The family owned Killarney Park will be in business 30 years this coming April – our promise has always been warmth beyond the smile. Through our amazing hard working team this warmth permeates throughout the hotel. Thank you to all our customers that chose us as their hotel of choice in Killarney and for taking the time to share their great experiences for others to follow. The number one position in Ireland is a great place to be today as we look forward to a fantastic summer season, but rest assured we will never rest on our laurels and will continue to deliver the warmest of welcomes and the best of service to our customers.”

Niall O’Donoghue from the Old Weir Lodge added that they too are proud to be number six on the list.

“We’re so proud to have been ranked at number six in Ireland ahead of such giants of the industry as Adare Manor and Hayfield Manor. We’re delighted with this acknowledgement of our hard work which has continued behind closed doors since last October. We can’t wait to reopen and welcome back guests that have been so loyal to us over the years. Equally, we’re especially proud of our great staff and we’re very excited to have them all back with us very shortly. The Trip Advisor Awards are the Oscars of the hospitality industry and it means a lot to us in a small family business.”

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Councillor hits out at progress of Kilcummin Sewerage Scheme

Michelle Crean

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By Michelle Crean

Some people won’t have an opportunity to join the proposed Kilcummin Sewerage Scheme after three important legs were withdrawn – a local councillor claimed this week.

Cllr Marie Moloney said that she was left “dismayed and disappointed” following a virtual meeting with Irish Water on Wednesday saying that she was informed that Knockataggle, the Rathanane Roads and the GAA Club House, are not included in the new scheme, even though they were in the original proposals.

The scheme, by Irish Water who are working in partnership with Kerry County Council, will provide a new sewer collection system for Kilcummin village that will ensure wastewater from the village is treated appropriately. Over the coming months, Irish Water will progress land acquisition and procurement for the scheme. Works on the project are expected to commence late in 2022.

The new sewerage infrastructure to be constructed as part of this scheme will include a sewer network for Kilcummin village, a pumping station, and approximately six kilometres of sewers, and will reduce the reliance on on-site systems such as septic tanks and package treatment plants. Once operational, the new sewerage scheme will connect into the sewer network in Killarney town, where it will be collected and transferred to Killarney Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) for appropriate treatment.

“A public information night took place nearly two years ago outlining the areas where the sewer scheme was to be provided,” Cllr Moloney said.

“We were told they didn’t have enough applications to warrant the scheme being provided for some of the areas on the outskirts of the village. Yet at the information night they didn’t tell the people that they had to make prior application before the scheme was actually confirmed. I know a lot of people on these roads are going to be disappointed and angry as they were intending to join the scheme when it was being installed. Now they won’t have an opportunity to do so.”

She said that they were also advised that it would cost in the region of €150,000 for every 100m which will push this scheme outside of the reach of a lot of people.


“Along with that, we were told that the scheme would not proceed to construction until the end of 2022 after tendering and negotiations have taken place at a highly elevated price of over €9m. Unfortunately, it is hard to accept the word of Irish Water officials that this much needed scheme will proceed to construction on the dates they have given us as we have had so many dates previously and nothing happened. Irish Water is like the boy who cried wolf.”

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae added it “is extremely disappointing for the people who were led to believe that they could connect to the public scheme”. “We will now have to redouble our efforts to ensure it is carried out to include the original design and nothing else is acceptable for the people of Kilcummin.”

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40 jobs announced for Muckross Park Hotel

Michelle Crean

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By Michelle Crean

With preparations under way for reopening on June 2, the Muckross Park Hotel & Spa has announced that it’s seeking to fill 40 positions.

The hotel is part of The iNua Collection who are creating 350 new jobs in preparation for reopening their nine hotels next month with jobs being created in the reception, accommodation, kitchen, bar, restaurant, leisure centre and spa departments.

Colgan’s Bar at Muckross Park Hotel will also have a brand new outdoor dining area for local guests to enjoy when visiting Muckross.

The General Manager at Muckross Park Hotel & Spa, Frits Potgieter said they are pleased with how bookings are looking for the summer months.

“We are so looking forward to reopening the hotel and welcoming guests back to Killarney for what I expect will be a very busy summer for the town,” Frits said.

“We are excited to open our doors again and look forward to welcoming 40 new staff members as part of our team.”

The Chief Executive of The iNua Collection, Sean O’Driscoll, said that bookings across the group’s nine hotels are looking strong for summer.

“The entire team is delighted to be reopening after such a long closure period,” he said. “The iNua Collection is happy to be back creating jobs again and we look forward to 350 new employees joining our existing 750 staff. Hospitality as an industry is great for developing the confidence and social skills of younger people when they start work, full of opportunities to move up the ladder quickly for those who are ambitious.”

The iNua Collection operates a Learning and Development Academy and supports employees to achieve educational qualifications while working, he added.

“Opportunities include our Trainee Manager Development Programme and our Chef Training Academy led by Group Executive Chef and Michelin-star chef, Stefan Matz.”

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