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Dancing all the way to the bank

LORD of the Dance at The Cliffs of Moher could be worth in excess of €10 million to the local economy, according to the event organiser and local tourism providers.

Speaking to The Clare Champion on Wednesday, Oliver O’Connell of MPO Promotions Limited said he expects the event to give a boost in the region of €10m to accommodation, service and tourism providers in the county.
Mr O’Connell, along with his sons Michael and PJ, runs MPO Promotions, the company behind bringing Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance to the world-famous Cliffs of Moher on September 1 and 2. The show will represent the first open-air performances of the world famous dance extravaganza and will be the first event of its kind at the Cliffs.
“We think about 20,000 people will descend on Clare for four or five days and we reckon they will spend between €400 and €500 each between hotels and accommodation. I feel it will be higher myself,” Mr O’Connell stated.
“A lawyer in Boston rang me and ordered 200 tickets. That’s 200 golfers who want to come to County Clare for three weeks and they want accommodation and they want golf,” he outlined.
“If someone comes here from Boston or somewhere else for the event, they are not going to come on the Thursday night and go again on Friday morning. They are going to stay the weekend.
“A lot of people too are planning their holidays around that event and I am getting feedback from my contacts in America that they are coming over for two and three weeks. Take the 200 guys that are coming in, they will spend half a million euro easily,” Mr O’Connell went on.
“If people are coming in for a week or two or three weeks here and using this as a mechanism to stay in Clare they are going to spend a lot of money. We think the €10m might be a bit low,” he added.
Mr O’Connell said ticket sales have been strong to date but as MPO, with the aid of a well-known Dublin-based PR firm, plan to promote the shows internationally in the coming weeks, he expects the dates to sell out quickly.
“We have a substantial number of tickets sold but we were waiting until after Easter to kind of explode it. We have just taken on a PR company and so we will start radio and television promotion shortly,” Mr O’Connell said, adding, “If people in Clare want tickets to this, now is the time to get them”.
Michael Vaughan, president of the Shannon branch of the Irish Hotel Federation, described the project as “visionary” and predicts it will bring a major lift to North Clare businesses on a traditionally slow weekend.
“I think it is a tremendous endeavour and it certainly is along the lines of the innovative tourism that we are all looking for.
“It is a symbiotic project linking a natural area like the Cliffs and entertainment and local businesses and we all wish it the very best of luck.
“The businesses in the area will do really well out of it and I would encourage everyone to support it. It will give a very good boost to all accommodation providers in the area. This type of concert has a mass appeal that will transcend all grades of accommodation, not just hotels but B&Bs and hostels as well. I expect Doolin, Liscannor and Lisdoonvarna will do extremely well from the concert and Lahinch as well with people staying there,” Mr Vaughan stated.
“That particular week can be a lull for tourism businesses. The final days of August and the first in September are traditionally very weak because people are getting ready to go back to school, so this will undoubtedly be a lift,” he went on.
Mr Vaughan, himself a Lahinch hotelier, added he believes the event illustrates the importance of the Cliffs of Moher to the locality.
“For all the nay-sayers who would have begrudged the capital investment up at the Cliffs of Moher, the community is getting something out of it through the use of the venue for an event of this nature. Places like the Cliffs should not be seen in isolation, it works with the community bringing benefits like this,” Mr Vaughan commented.
Like Mr O’Connell, he hopes the event will become a “template for other festivals in the county”.
“I think the great benefit to this particular event is the partnership between the promoters and Clare County Council as the proprietors of the Cliffs of Moher. I think it will be a very good case study in perfecting this type of thing throughout the county,” Mr Vaughan concluded.
The event, being billed as the Edge of the World Experience, hinges on Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance but will include local acts.
The Lord of the Dance itself features 40 precision dancers and this will be preceded by music from Oliver O’Connell’s son, Michael along with Hugh Healy and special guest folk legend Finbar Furey. There will also be music from the world famous Kilfenora Céilí Band.


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