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

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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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Possible return to campus for college students

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By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

The announcement by the Department of Education this week, that the Leaving Cert results will be issued on Friday, September 3, was followed by confirmation from the Central Applications Office that CAO Round 1 offers will be issued online, four days later on Tuesday, September 7 at 2pm.

This is about three weeks later than normal, although it is earlier than the 2020 dates. Coinciding with the release of these dates comes the news from Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, that it is the priority of Government to get college students back on campus for the 2021/2022 academic year. Because of the later issue of Leaving Cert results and CAO offers, this means that First Year students will start college a couple of weeks later than those who are returning to college in Second, Third and Fourth Year.

From the point of social distancing, the staggered start may be an advantage, as we will still be living with certain restrictions due to COVID-19. There are a number of contributing factors what will influence a safe and successful return to the college campus for students according to Minister Harris. They include the roll-out and take-up of vaccinations in the college-age cohort by September, the use of rapid testing on campus which has been run as a pilot in several universities this year, and a varied approach to face-to-face lectures. It is hoped that smaller classes, practicals and tutorials can be operated as before with social distancing while the larger lectures may need to be facilitated using a blended approach. It is also felt that if cafés, restaurants and bars are open everywhere else, there is no reason why they can’t open on campus. This of course is all based on vaccinations and public health guidelines.

ACCOMMODATION

A big concern for First Year students following the announcements is the fact that they will be looking for accommodation later than all other students. This is an issue every single year because when CAO offers are issued, many students get offers for colleges in locations where they have not secured accommodation. Naturally it is of particular concern to rural students and mirrors a greater societal shortage of accommodation. Minister Harris has also stated that he is bringing a proposal to Cabinet in the coming weeks to implement legislation which means that the owners of purpose-built student accommodation will only be allowed to charge rents a month in advance rather than insisting on payment of rent for half of the college year, something which has put enormous strain on students and their families over the years.
So, while any kind of certainty surrounding a return to ‘normal’ college life isn’t possible, it is both hopeful and exciting for new and returning college students to be able to look forward to the next college year with the prospect of getting to enjoy a real college experience and all that has to offer.

WEBINAR

I will be hosting a free webinar for Leaving Cert parents on June 16 at 7pm on ‘How to help your son/daughter with CAO Change of Mind and other career options’ ahead of the CAO deadline on July 1. 

To register see links on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @mycareerplan or email me on info@mycareerplan.ie. 

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant. For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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Deadline for health and well-being fest fast approaching

Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching. This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10. Organised by an interagency […]

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Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching.

This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10.

Organised by an interagency steering group, the key focus of the Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest is to promote mental health and well-being in Kerry through a fun and interactive programme of events.

“The Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest aims to create awareness of, and schedule events that empower people to engage with the Five Ways to Well-being – Connect | Give | Take Notice | Keep Learning | Be Active – as well as raising awareness of the available supports and services in the county,” Chair of the Steering Committee, Donagh Hennebry, said.

“The Fest has a wide reach across Kerry and we want to continue to build on its success in 2021. But we can’t do this without you! We are inviting anyone who is interested in helping us achieve our goal, by hosting an event(s) during #KerryMHWFest, to register online as soon as possible.”

The organising committee is a collaboration between Connecting for Life Kerry, Healthy Kerry, Kerry County Council, the HSE, NEWKD, SKDP, Kerry Mental Health Association, Jigsaw Kerry, Munster Technological University/Kerry, and Kerry Volunteer Centre.

To register your interest to host an event for the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, visit www.healthykerry.ie before close of business on Friday, June 25.

For more information about registration, promotion, or the Fest in general, please contact the interagency steering group at: kerrymhwfest20@gmail.com.

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Free and subsidised higher education courses for Kerry

  11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry. The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in […]

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11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry.

The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in Retail Food Service Operations and a Postgraduate Diploma in Bioeconomy with Business.

Over 10,000 places are available across both programmes nationwide in 2021.

Springboard+ provides free courses for people who are unemployed, people who have taken time out of work or education to raise their families or care for loved ones, or people who want to upskill. Now in its 10th year, over 75,000 people have benefited from Springboard+ to date.

Courses under the HCI Pillar 1 programme are aimed at graduates and offer incentivised places for them to reskill in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies. These are being run alongside, and complementary to, the Springboard+ offerings.

For those in employment, the Government will fund 90% of the cost of a Springboard+ or HCI Pillar 1 course. The programmes are managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

Launching the programme, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD said, “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to ensure that people have the skills they need”.

Helpline

Candidates who wish to participate will find full details on the approved courses on www.springboardcourses.ie. Experienced guidance counsellors will be available to advise potential Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 participants on their options on the freephone Springboard+ helpline: 1800 303 523. The helpline is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

 

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