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North Clare

Kinvara's picturesque harbour area. Photograph by John Kelly.

Tourism buoyed by new ferry service

A NEW sea service bringing tourists from Galway City to the Burren will be launched this weekend. The company behind the initiative believes in the region of 4,000 tourists a year could be brought to North Clare and South Galway on the sailings, as planned, but that there is capacity to expand the service. MacMara, a newly-formed marine and coastal ecotourism company based in Kinvara, will launch the routes at the pier in the village on Saturday. The company will run daily crossings from Galway Port across the bay to Kinvara and Ballyvaughan on alternate days, as well as coastal trips plying the bay. The foundation for the tourist-orientated ferry was the feasibility study for the Ballyvaughan Bay Hop, a community-led sea commuter service from Ballyvaughan to Galway City. Gwen Ryan was the driving force behind that project and is now involved with MacMara. “We had very positive feedback from the Bay Hop. There was a lot of interest in it but that interest was mainly from leisure travellers and people …

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Lisdoon to get the Baden-Baden Treatment

LISDOONVARNA could be the Baden-Baden of Ireland, a local hotelier has claimed. The German town rose to international fame when it was used as a base by the English soccer team, as well as players’ wives and girlfriends, during the 2006 Fifa World Cup. The spa resort in the foothills of the Black Forest welcomes millions of day visitors and hundreds of thousands of over-night tourists each year. Marcus White of White’s Hotel Group, which owns the Hydro Hotel, the Imperial Hotel and the Burren Castle Hotel in Lisdoonvarna, believes the North Clare town could boom in a similar fashion, if the town’s spa wells are developed. Lisdoonvarna became a popular resort in the early 1800s because of the spa wells and its waters, containing minerals reputed to have health restorative effects. Mr White last week announced deals with German tour operators that would see 60,000 additional bed nights filled in North Clare. “I have talked to Government officials. I …

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A sunny start of tourist season

A COMBINATION of good weather, the Wild Atlantic Way and a public holiday saw huge numbers of people flock to the Clare coast at the weekend. Tourism providers across the county are reporting one of the busiest Easter weekends in recent years. One prominent hotelier said it was “more like August than April”, which meant that seasonal staff could be hired over a month earlier than usual. Attractions across the county also recorded high visitor numbers, with the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre, Bunratty Folk Park and Craggaunowen all recording increases this year compared to last. “It was a super weekend,” John Burke from the Armada Hotel in Spanish Point and Hotel Doolin stated. “We had a surge in customer numbers. People just want to flock to the coast to cool down and it was great to see it pick up so early in the season. It has allowed us to recruit earlier in the year. Normally, seasonal staff wouldn’t …

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Lisdoonvarna company to feature on TV

The Burren Smokehouse, based in Lisdoonvarna, is to feature in a new documentary series being produced by ITV. Wild Ireland, a primetime six-part series, sees presenter Christine Bleakley returning home to Ireland to travel the length of its 1,500-mile west coast – the longest continuous coastal route – known as the Wild Atlantic Way. The series is devised by Big Mountain Productions, a Newry-based production company, but supported by Tourism Ireland, within their strategy to highlight the Wild Atlantic Way around the world. The Burren Smokehouse will feature in the first episode of the series to be broadcast on ITV and UTV Ireland on Monday April next from 8pm to 8.30pm. ” As a Wild Atlantic Way Food Ambassador for Fáilte Ireland, we hope this wonderful exposure will help us grow the 30,000 visitor figure at our visitor entre, said Birgitta Hedin-Curtin.

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Thousands of Germans to visit Clare

A CLARE hotel is to bring thousands of German visitors to the county between now and October, resulting in 60,000 additional bed nights here and 211,000 nationally. Whites Hotel Group, which owns the Hydro Hotel, the Imperial Hotel and the Burren Castle Hotel in Lisdoonvarna, as well as hotels elsewhere in Ireland, announced this week that it is to bring 5,500 German tourists here this year, as part of one agreement with a tour operator filling 25,000 bed nights in Clare and one with a different tour operator, which will result in 35,000 more in the county. Marcus White, the man behind the deals, said while this is great for the Whites Group, it will also have benefits for other businesses. “There is a great spin-off for the economy because we use the Aillwee Caves, Kilmacduagh, Loop Head Lighthouse, The Vandeleur Gardens in Kilrush, we bring them to visit Ennis town and spend some money there. This will create jobs. …

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Corofin pupils have Indian cultural experience

Pupils in Corofin National School brought together a range of diverse themes recently when they invited members of the Ireland India Council and the India Embassy in Dublin to take part in their Walk for Water. A week of celebrations before the Easter holidays marked India Week and the pupils’ Active School and Green Flag endeavours. Partha Ray, First Secretary at The Embassy of India, Dublin and Mr Ray’s wife, Temina, took part in the school’s celebrations, as did Prashaut Shukla, director of the Ireland-India Council and board member Aparna Shukla. The group spent two days in the school teaching the pupils about Indian culture, history and heritage. Pupils took part in Yoga, Bollywood dancing, Laughter Yoga, Indian music workshops and Indian food-tasting as part of their week-long celebrations. Guests from the Ireland India Council and the Embassy took part in the Walk for Water alongside the school community, as part of Scoil Mhuire’s Water Action Day for their Green …

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Ballyvaughan hotel bought by Quinn family

A NORTH Clare hotel has reopened, securing 20 jobs, after it was bought by a prominent local business family. The Hylands Burren Hotel in Ballyvaughan reopened on Friday having been purchased by the Quinn family, who own holiday cottages, a craft shop and Italian restaurant L’Arco in the village. Madeleine Taylor Quinn is a former TD, senator and mayor of the county. According to Ms Taylor Quinn, retaining jobs in the area is vital. “The hotel has 20 staff and these have been kept on. Keeping people employed is critical and especially being able to offer secure employment is very important. There will also be a spin-off for other businesses in the village. The hotel had a very good reputation when it was owned by the Hyland family and later owned by a family from Donegal, before being owned by Canadians. They have had it for the past two years and we bought it from them,” she explained. While the new …

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On the high seas in Ennistymon

Ennistymon Choral Society will bring the Australian version of HMS Pinafore to the stage in Lahinch this week. The rejuvenation of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera will run from Wednesday to Sunday, in Seaworld Hall, beginning at 8.15pm each night. “Everyone in the society has been working very hard since October in order to create the best show possible for our local and visiting audience. Music rehearsals began in October under the guidance of music director Mary Madigan O’Callaghan, with dancing and production rehearsals beginning under director Peter Kennedy in January,” explained Emma Jane Brown, secretary of Ennistymon Choral Society. The Ennistymon Choral Society’s productions attract full houses each year and those involved expect this year will be no different. The group performed Oklahoma last year and this time chose HMS Pinafore, a humorous story of love, mistaken identity and subterfuge. “This is the society’s 42nd annual production, which is an amazing feat. This would not have been possible without …

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