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Tracey Corbett Lynch who has taken over Kilkee Waterworld. Photograph by John Kelly

“Kilkee was somewhere I came to heal”

WITH a booming staycation summer close to its zenith, Kilkee Waterworld reopened this week.
“We opened on Monday morning at 8am with a private lesson and then we had swim classes for the following two hours,” said Tracey Corbett Lynch, who is now managing the facility.
She said it had been great to be able to reopen, after a very long closure.
“There was a very short window of opening in the summer of 2020. We’re just delighted to be open and to welcome families in, both local and ones spending some time here over the summer.”
Like many other premises around Clare, a major effort was required in advance of opening the doors once again.
“We had a huge amount of work to do. When I joined in mid-June we first of all had a deep clean, we brought some contractors in to deep clean the whole building.
“We had professional companies in to do the windows, we had the whole building repainted inside and out, we made some adjustments so we’re Covid compliant. For every swim we have a 30 minute changeover for disinfecting.
“The fun part is we have families coming in, the phone is ringing non stop, we have the booking online, we’re hoping to add adult swim lessons as well.”
Speaking about the not for profit facility, she says, “It’s over 20 years old, it was set up by a group of community leaders that accessed funding and raised funds in the community as well.
“It has been running more or less seasonally for the last 20 years. The swimming pool has a slide, it has a lazy river, gushers, a little bubble pool and a kids pool. It also has a family cafe so parents, if they have kids there, can kind of chill out.
“This year we’ve added outdoor concrete table tennis and chess as well, so people can come along and sit outside.
“We’re right across from the beach and it’s one of the most spectacular locations in Kilkee.”
Limerick sends many visitors to Kilkee, and that is where Tracey herself comes from.
“I’m from Limerick but I’ve been very welcomed and adopted into Kilkee! We’ve been staying in the mobile park for years and I renovated a house a couple of years ago here.
“We’ve gone through lockdown and homeschooling and everything here, it’s home to me now.”
She was involved in social entrepreneurship before coming to Kilkee, but initially her career path was quite different.
“I worked in the private sector initially in engineering, I was head of quality for CRH for Ireland and their lead auditor, way back. I switched careers around 15 years ago, I moved into social entrepreneurship, I was Chief Executive Officer of Tate House Community Enterprise which was a non profit in Limerick, I would have had 160 staff working across 16 different social enterprises.
“I would have worked on the business planning process, supporting funding, helping people from marginalised areas to get work-ready, by getting employment or starting their own businesses.”
Some years ago her brother Jason was brutally killed in America, in a very high profile case.
Tracey wrote a book entitled My Brother Jason, which was well received and topped the best sellers list.
While there was some publicity about the negative comments directed towards her after the book’s publication, she says many more people reached out to offer support.
“I would have had some negative contact over social media, but the response to the book was hugely cathartic, so supportive. I’ve had a huge amount of support from people all over the country, I still get cards and messages.”
She also lost her mother last year to Covid-19, Tracey’s grief compounded by being separated from her in the weeks before her death.
“Along with everyone else in the country who has lost a loved one to Covid and who has lost family members during Covid, it’s a very isolating experience and very difficult for families.
“I didn’t see my Mam for most of the six weeks that she was in, until her very last moment, which was really difficult.
“Kilkee was somewhere I came to heal, being by the sea, the walks, it’s a nice environment.”
When the job at Waterworld came up she was very keen. “It’s just the idea of working with people and families, it’s a great feeling. Everyone is on holidays and it’s a lovely place to work.”
She hopes to be able to bring things to a new level in the future.
“There has been fantastic support from the board of management; this year has been really intense in terms of getting set up, opening the doors and welcoming people.
“As we move into the autumn, the plan is to look at how we move forward next year and we have a lot of exciting plans.”
She would like to see it generate some more employment, and to operate for more of the year. “It’s seasonal right now, but hopefully with support from the community which we have, we’ll be able to continue through the winter months.”
At the moment life is in two places to some extent, but she hopes to spend more time in Kilkee going forward.
“Our home is Limerick and Clare, we’re between both. We’re a very big blended family, our older kids are living and working in Limerick. My husand and I and the younger kids hope to move down here full time sooner rather than later.”
Kilkee offers a very good quality of life she feels.
“Life is all about taking every moment and you certainly get to enjoy it here.”

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.