DRIVE TO SURVIVE: More than 50 chauffeur drivers and tour bus operators, including several from Killarney, took part in a drive along the Wild Atlantic Way last weekend to highlight their concerns over their loss of business as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
By Sean Moriarty
Coach and tour operators in Killarney say their contribution to the tourism sector has been overlooked by the Government’s July stimulus package.
O‘Callaghan Coaches, which last year celebrated its 50th year, say they are facing huge challenges as they try to get back on the road.
Their main business is providing coach tours, either to incoming foreign visitors or by bringing locals on pilgrimage to Lourdes or Christmas shopping trips to Dublin. This week should have been particularly busy with Galway Races.
They pick up additional business by providing transport to local sports clubs and enjoy a long association with Legion GAA, Killarney Rugby Club and Killarney Celtic FC.
Despite the lack of any income they are still obliged to carry out annual road worthy tests on their 30-strong fleet at a cost €400 per vehicle; they continue to pay insurance, and despite a moratorium on vehicle loans they are still paying interest on them.
Currently they have around 50 part-time and full-time drivers who are out of work.
“We have been completely parked up since March,” Phillip O’Callaghan told the Killarney Advertiser. “There is no domestic market. Even in the last recession we still had 30 or 40 percent of our business but now we have nothing.”
Mr O’Callaghan is calling for further Government support to help the ailing sector.
He says coach operators are an important link in the whole tourism-economic package and their contribution is being overlooked.
“We bring people to places like the Gap of Dunloe or the Red Fox Inn and our customers could spend €5 or a €100 in each location,” he said.
The Government did grant a €10 million Business Continuity Fund to coach operators as part of its July stimulus package but by the time that is divided up between all operators there won’t be much left to go round.
The Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland estimate there were 1,721 private operators in Ireland last year. That would leave just over €5,800 per operator and, as an example, that would allow O’Callaghan Coaches claim €193 per vehicle – assuming they would get the full €5,800 – which won’t cover the annual test for each vehicle.
“Those funds are with Fáilte Ireland and even they don’t know what to do with it,” Mr O’Callaghan added.
Drive to Survive
Meanwhile, more than 50 chauffeur drivers and tour bus operators, including several from Killarney, took part in a drive along the Wild Atlantic Way last weekend to highlight their concerns over their loss of business as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
The ‘Drive2Survive’, organised by the Western Chauffeur Drive Association left Killarney on Friday in convoy for the three day road trip along the west coast stopping at visitor and heritage sites along the Wild Atlantic Way including Bunratty, the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Salthill, Maams Cross, Leenane, Ballina, Sligo, finishing in Donegal.
Local operators took part in the Kerry leg of the trip. They included Pat Buckley. He and his son Patrick own and operate Personal Tours Ireland and rely on the American tourist market to survive.
They have had very limited business since last October, the traditional end of the tourism season. Business usually picks up in March ahead of the busy peak months of July and August but the rug was pulled from under them at the start of the national shutdown.
COMMUNITY AIR AMBULANCE TASKED 512 TIMES DURING 2021
The Irish Community Air Ambulance has yet to receive any sort of government funding despite being called out on 512 missions in 14 counties during 2021. Last year was the ICAA busiest year since the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Air Ambulance launched in July 2019. There were 490 taskings in 2020. The organisation is […]
The Irish Community Air Ambulance has yet to receive any sort of government funding despite being called out on 512 missions in 14 counties during 2021.
Last year was the ICAA busiest year since the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Air Ambulance launched in July 2019. There were 490 taskings in 2020.
The organisation is Ireland’s only charity-funded HEMS Air Ambulance. It works in partnership with the National Ambulance Service and responds to serious incidents and medical emergencies from its base in Rathcool, near Millstreet, in Co. Cork. Each helicopter mission costs an average of €3,500, all of which has to be raised or donated.
The CEO of the Irish Community Air Ambulance, Micheál Sheridan said that they engaged with the Government and regional political leaders throughout 2021 to secure some State support for the vital service.
Micheál Sheridan said, “The HSE is releasing funding to private Ambulance firms to provide support during the continuing crisis yet the Irish Community Air Ambulance is still entirely funded by public donations. The increased number of taskings during 2021 show that we provide a vital service,” said Mr Sheridan.
“The cost to run the charity during 2022 is expected to be €2.1 million which is a significant amount of money to raise. We are so grateful to all our supporters who help us to bring hope to those in emergency situations but we will continue to engage with the Government to provide funding during these uncertain times.”
There were more calls to cardiac arrests, farming-related incidents and falls from heights during 2021. Cardiac arrests accounted for one in five calls with 103 taskings last year, that’s up from 81 during 2020.
July and April were the busiest months of the year for the service with 57 missions completed each month. Cork, Kerry and Tipperary accounted for the majority of taskings. The Irish Community Air Ambulance was also tasked to Clare, Limerick, Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny, Mayo, Galway, Offaly, Laois, Wicklow and Kildare.
One in every three taskings required an airlift to hospital. There were 111 transfers to Cork University Hospital during 2021 which equates to 66% of all transfers. University Hospital Limerick accounts for 20%.
Micheal Sheridan added, “There were also transfers to hospitals in Kerry, Tallaght, Galway, Temple Street, Crumlin and The Mater as we saw an increase in the number of times we were required to transfer children and young people to specialist paediatric hospitals in Dublin. We cover an area of 25,000 square kilometres and treat some of the most critically ill and injured patients, bringing them to the hospital that is best suited to their life-saving needs, not just the closest hospital geographically.”
Diarmuid O’Donovan from Cork was seriously injured when he was thrown over the handlebars of his bike while cycling around Slea Head, Co Kerry in May 2021. He said he needed to be brought to a dedicated Trauma Centre quickly.
“A moment of carelessness saw me hit the road. I was on my own but thankfully it wasn’t long before I was found. Paramedics, a local doctor, the local Fire Service and Gardai all responded,” he explained.
“I was drifting in and out of consciousness and it quickly emerged that I needed to be at Cork University Hospital as soon as possible. I wasn’t in a suitable state for a two-and-a-half-hour journey by road so the Irish Community Air Ambulance was tasked and landed in Ventry. The journey to CUH by helicopter took just 30 minutes. I had 28 different bone breaks including my spine, shoulder and ribs as well as a punctured lung. I underwent several procedures that evening and spent 12 days in hospital. I believe it could have been far worse if I had not been transported to CUH so quickly and that my recovery has been much faster as a result.”
Now is a good time to plan features in the garden
Now is an excellent time to have a look at your garden and plan any new beds, water features or seating areas. With relatively little growth, it is easy to take measurements and mark out where your new project will take place. There are a few things to bear in mind when planning new features. […]
Now is an excellent time to have a look at your garden and plan any new beds, water features or seating areas.
With relatively little growth, it is easy to take measurements and mark out where your new project will take place.
There are a few things to bear in mind when planning new features. First, the practical: are there water pipes, septic tanks, gas or electricity lines etc in the way?
Or, if planning a feature where construction is required, is there access to water and electricity?
Secondly, if you are planning a new bed, what is the soil like in that area, or have you better ground elsewhere which can be exploited?
I have learned over the years that the best thing to do with an area of bad soil is to cover it with paving!
On the other hand, if you are planning a patio, should you excavate the topsoil for use elsewhere? Planning a new bed or planting area is a lot of fun, and I always think it is a good idea to take the time, close your eyes and give your imagination free reign. Consult magazines, gardening websites and social media!
Have a look at a friends’ or neighbours’ gardens for ideas.
Decide how much time you have to maintain it, and keep in mind Irish weather, commitments and other hobbies.
Often we take on gardening projects which we think, at the time, we will have time for. Say you want to commit to, for example, three hours of gardening a week – Saturday morning is the one time you have free.
Guaranteed one of those Saturdays it will rain! Then there is a morning spent mowing. Weeding will take up another few hours. Time flies, no matter what you do…and with age, I am coming to realise we have to work realistically with the free time we have. Gardening should not become a job you are forced to do.
Plan what the new area will be used for, and again, keep time in mind. Maybe a mixed area is better than a single purpose one.
What I mean by this is, you may have decided this year is the year to grow vegetables. Rather than planning out half your garden as a rotating vegetable garden, it may be better to plan out two small beds and a seating area, surrounded by an area of wildflowers.
This can then easily be converted to a larger veg garden if you feel the trial run went well, or converted entirely to a patio. In my experience, it is wise not to commit to a large scale project, especially if you are new to it.
COMMUNITY AIR AMBULANCE TASKED 512 TIMES DURING 2021
The Irish Community Air Ambulance has yet to receive any sort of government funding despite being called out on 512...
Now is a good time to plan features in the garden
Now is an excellent time to have a look at your garden and plan any new beds, water features or...
Weird and wonderful insurance policies
As it is January I thought I would start the year on a light hearted note. Lloyds of London is...
Kerry to feature in new TG4 documentary on Wild Atlantic Way
Three episodes of a new ten-part TG4 series on the Wild Atlantic Way were filmed in County Kerry. The series,...
Further rise in house prices forecast for 2022 as average price of a resale home in the capital reaches €500,000
According to the latest residential market review and outlook from leading property advisors DNG, house prices are set to continue...
Fleming and Doherty top Killarney crew at Boggeragh
The Boggeragh Rallysprint, organised by Cork Motor Club and based in the forest complex of the same name, took place...
Killarney Valley athletes rubbing shoulders with the best
Killarney Valley AC continued their upward curve last Sunday when they entered men’s and women’s teams in the prestigious National...
Hoops to host Cork City at Celtic Park
League of Ireland giants Cork City will be back in Killarney on Saturday afternoon, three years after they last paid...
Kerry victory sets up Killarney final versus Cork
McGrath Cup Tipperary 0-5 Kerry 1-23 Templetuohy A depleted Kerry squad made light work of Tipperary on Wednesday night to...
Killarney RFC coast to U16 Munster final
Munster U16 League Semi-Final Killarney 26 Bruff 0 Aghadoe The Killarney RFC U16 girls are on the cusp of provincial...