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Clare set for scorcher but coastal businesses still lack staff

Champion Chatter Podcast

CLARE’S coastal resorts are set for another bumper weekend with temperatures set to soar.

Indeed Met Eireann has forecast uncomfortably high temperatures peaking at around 30 degrees celsius, with highs of 24, 25 and 27 also expected between Saturday and Tuesday.

West and north Clare saw a bounce in business last weekend, as scorching temperatures saw far more people heading to the coast than in recent times.

The weather station at Shannon Airport saw a high of 24.5 degrees on Saturday, while it was even warmer on Sunday, hitting 26.2 degrees, the warmest at any of the Met Éireann stations in the country on the day.

Randy Lewis, the proprietor of Randaddy’s in Lahinch, said that the weekend had been quite hectic.

“I’d say it was the busiest three days of this year, or definitely very close. There were a couple of very busy days in May and April, but those were certainly very busy days. And today (Monday) is very busy too.”

It’s no secret that the pandemic was an ill wind that blew some good to places like Lahinch, where visitor numbers soared due to restrictions on international travel.

Happily there is far more freedom again now but Randy said that one of the consequences is that things haven’t been as busy around Lahinch as they were in the summers of 2020 and 2021.

“No, it’s definitely not. In May and June there has definitely been a dip, not as many people around for obvious reasons.”

2022 will be about business coming around to a new normal, which may well be like the old one.

“I think this year is all about getting through the summer and seeing what the winter brings really. I think it’ll be a normal year, like 2019 and every year before that. We’re back to reality really.”

He said that the area is always quite busy in July, but there is a lot of time beyond that when things will be far quieter.

“I think Lahinch just becomes busy after the Willie Clancy ends, Lahinch is just automatically busy. The summer is the summer, but what we really don’t know about are the shoulder months.

“Business for 12 months can’t be done in two months, it’s fools gold. It’s a 12 month year, 12 months of paying rent, 12 months of paying electricity bills. Also 12 months of trying to keep your staff going and in jobs so you have them for the future.”

The unavailability of workers is a “massive problem” this year, he says, with some businesses not able to trade despite the huge numbers of visitors.

“There are businesses around Lahinch still closed and it’s the first time I’ve seen it. I’ve been in business for 11 years and around the area for 18 years, it’s the first time I’ve seen it in the middle of the summer time.”

Councillor Cillian Murphy said that the weekend just gone had been exceptionally busy in Kilkee.

“Bananas is how I would describe it. The weather was fine, there was a very popular sporting event on (the Run Kilkee half marathon and 10k), there were 1,700 or 1,800 runners registered for Saturday and it would seem that an awful lot of them stayed around for the weekend. It was very obvious that summer had arrived, with a big bang.”

In general, he said that this summer hasn’t been overly busy for most places.

“Midweek has been quiet, weekends have been busy-ish. Most businesses in Kilkee and most that I’d be talking to would say that it’s not that busy.

“It’s grand, but it’s quieter than they would have expected it to be.If you compare it to last year, everyone was released but couldn’t go abroad, so they stayed domestic and it was a very busy year.”

Labour shortages are a big issue for many enterprises in this neck of the woods also.

“All of the coastal places are all facing the same challenges. Not being able to open as much as they’d like because they don’t have the staff, not only are they struggling to find staff they’re struggling to find accommodation for staff.

“A cohort of people in their late teens or early twenties couldn’t go abroad for the last few years but they went this year.

“As a result you’re back to 16-18 year olds, and it’s a struggle to get those, even though they wouldn’t have the maturity or experience that someone in their early twenties would have.”

Also, the existing staff shortages are being compounded by Covid.

“It’s having a real impact. If you’re looking at a business that are already short staffed and they lose one or two of their staff because of Covid, it really has a profound impact.”

Owen Ryan
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Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

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