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Councillors hail opportunities from heritage sites transfer

THE Chief Executive of the local authority has pledged to spend the summer working to secure the national support that will be needed if Shannon Heritage’s Clare attractions are to transfer to the council.
At July meeting of the authority, a number of members welcomed the announcement that a process of due diligence involving the council and Shannon Group is underway. Chief Executive Pat Dowling told members that he is putting a council team together with the necessary financial and legal expertise and that he himself will meet staff at the Clare attractions in the month of August.
News of the potential transfer was announced at the end of last month. It followed a protracted period of uncertainty and intermittent closure, caused by Covid restrictions, for Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Knappogue Castle and Craggaunowen, as well as Shannon Heritage’s other sites.
The matter was noted at the local authority meeting by Councillor Joe Garrihy who described the potential transfer move as “bold, brave and courageous”. “We are right to move to protect our heritage,” the Fine Gael member said. “Due diligence is needed to give reassurance that this is sustainable and these are very exciting times.”
The Lisdoonvarna-based representative noted that there is an 80-acres site at the Spa Wells in the town potentially representing “a real opportunity for Clare County Council”.
Councillor Johnny Flynn said the potential acquisition of 120 staff of Shannon Heritage represented another opportunity. “They have extraordinary expertise,” he noted, “and that could drive things like wellness tourism at locations including Lisdoonvarna. There is some extraordinary work underway in Clare.”
Councillor Pat Hayes described the possible taking-in-charge of Shannon Heritage as “huge, challenging and representing lots of opportunities”. “I welcome the due diligence process and it is really up to our national representatives to make the case for funding.” The Fianna Fáil member underlined the importance of protecting workers’ rights.
Responding, Mr Dowling said that Shannon Heritage staff had contacted him through their union. “The process is now only beginning and I will go out and meet staff in August,” he said. “I’m putting a staff team on it with financial and legal expertise. It will be a long and, I think, difficult process and I will spend the summer working to secure the national support needed.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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