T has been estimated the recent re-opening of Kilkee Dive Centre, which had been closed for two summers, will be worth €250,000 per annum to the economy in the resort town.
Meelick man Gary Kiely, who has lived in Kilkee for three years, applied for and was granted the lease by Clare County Council, which will be reviewed in 2015
At this week’s West Clare Municipal District meeting, Councillor Ian Lynch urged the local authority to actively market the facility.
“A quick calculation of the input from Athlone Diving Club and three or four clubs in total, you’re looking at over €250,000 of an annual contribution to the local economy. Clare County Council needs to market this and not sit back and let Mr Kiely look after the building. There must be a marketing package put in place by Clare County Council to make this work and to make this sustainable,” he stated.
Mr Kiely feels the €250,000 estimate is accurate. “I would say quite possibly it is. Every diver that comes to Kilkee has to eat and stay somewhere. However, as far as diving is concerned, diving itself isn’t that profitable and therein lies the problem. We’ve had fairly okay weather for the last week but between last Friday and Wednesday of this week, there hasn’t been any diving,” he said.
In an effort to create a broader business around the dive centre, Mr Kiely has also opened a café in the building.
“We’re providing for divers from other clubs who want to have a shower or want to get some air filled up. We’re also providing a diving facility for people who aren’t members of clubs. We can bring them out on a boat. We opened a little café as well.”
“There is no amenity on that side of the beach café-wise for the public or the divers. We want people on the steps and people coming down on holidays to use the dive centre as well. We’ve introduced a classroom for any club or organisation that want to use it,” Mr Kiely explained.
He is confident access to the East End car park will not be a problem. Clare County Council erected a barrier at the entrance some time ago, which has resulted in numerous incidents of boat owners being unable to enter the car park and access the slipway.
“That’s really a matter to take up with the council,” he said.
“Kilkee Sub Aqua Club, the Irish Coast Guard and Kilkee Fishing Club are amongst the key holders. Anyone who comes to me, I will let them in,” Mr Kiely said.
Meanwhile, Councillor Lynch underlined the significance of the re-opened dive centre. “This is massive resource for Clare County Council, Kilkee and West Clare. People come diving and they stay for a week or a weekend and they spend a fortune in the area,” he maintained.
In a written statement to this week’s municipal meeting, Michael McNamara of Clare County Council, said the local authority has invested significantly in upgrading the building.“It was necessary for the council to carry out electrical, plumbing and painting works to the exterior of the building over recent weeks. Costs in the region of €20,000 are being incurred on these works,” Mr McNamara said.
“The council has been under pressure from a number of groups in Kilkee to have the centre open for business at the earliest possible date,” he added.