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Vital link in tourism sector overlooked by Government

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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. 

 

 

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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.

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NPWS survey to find out impact of fires

By Michelle Crean The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has commissioned a comprehensive survey on the impact of fires over the past four decades – in particular Killarney National Park in April. The tender, worth €300,000, and named ‘Study on the Impact of Fires On The Biodiversity of Killarney National Park’, seeks to find […]

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By Michelle Crean

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has commissioned a comprehensive survey on the impact of fires over the past four decades – in particular Killarney National Park in April.

The tender, worth €300,000, and named ‘Study on the Impact of Fires On The Biodiversity of Killarney National Park’, seeks to find out the biological impacts of the fires in the 26,000 acre park.

The fires in April burned from Friday night on April 23 until around 12pm the following Monday when they were finally brought under control.

Parts of the Park were scorched resulting in flora and fauna being wiped out. Some fires came as close as 10 metres to a church and school in the Black Valley area.

Fires raged near Tomies Wood and fire crews from five different districts quenched fires near the properties under threat. A real threat was for The Oak Woods but fire fighters managed to avert danger.

The fire is believed to have begun on the Kenmare Road area escalated by the strong winds.

“The purpose of this tender is to commission a comprehensive survey of the impacts, and the chrono-sequence of fire recovery or otherwise, on lands burned over the past four decades, as well as surveys in unburned areas, in order to assess the biological impacts of the fires, in particular the fire of April 2021, on the biodiversity of Killarney National Park,” an NPWS spokesperson told the Killarney Advertiser.

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Killarney spin will bring comfort to patients

By Michelle Crean Ahead of this year’s ladies only 54321 Challenge a number of spinathons are taking place, including in Killarney town. Sunday, August 15 a group of 10 ladies plan a spinathon day in Killarney ahead of their four day epic adventure from Thursday, August 19 to Sunday 22. This year due to COVID […]

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By Michelle Crean

Ahead of this year’s ladies only 54321 Challenge a number of spinathons are taking place, including in Killarney town.

Sunday, August 15 a group of 10 ladies plan a spinathon day in Killarney ahead of their four day epic adventure from Thursday, August 19 to Sunday 22.

This year due to COVID restrictions the 54321 team will run with two teams of five people, all female – who are raising funds for one single charity – Comfort for Chemo Kerry.

Their four day challenge will include a cycle the Ring of Kerry on day one (Thursday 19), a climb up Carrantuohil on day two (Friday 20), a cycle from Killarney to the foot of Cnoc Na Tobair and then climb Cnoc Na Tobair on day three (Saturday 21) finishing off with a cycle of the Skellig Ring on day four (Sunday 22).

In advance of the ninth annual challenge they will first participate in the spinathons at various locations to help raise much needed funds for this year’s chosen charity.

The first of the spinathons will take place on Saturday, July 31 in Listowel, Killorglin, Dingle, Cahersiveen. On the day volunteers will take to the spinning bikes from 10am to 5pm in different locations around these towns.
This will be followed by Killarney on Sunday, August 15, and Tralee on Saturday, August 28.

When choosing this year’s charity, organisers contacted a past participant and a dear friend, Mairead Dunphy from Glencar who is currently on her own journey with cancer.

“We wanted to show our support to Mairead and knowing that she would like to support those who have supported her on her journey so far, she had already being looking at ideas to raise much needed funds for Comfort for Chemo Kerry,” TJ O’Connor said.

“Please support Comfort for Chemo Kerry by giving what you can.”

For more information about the spinathons go to www.54321challenge.org or the Comfort for Chemo Kerry Facebook page for online donation information.

There’s also a GoFundMe page: ‘Comfort for Chemo Kerry – 54321 Challenge 2021’ which has a €20,000 target set up.

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