BUNRATTY Castle & Folk Park will only open for six more weeks in 2020, while other Shannon Group operated sites in Clare, including Craggaunowen and Knappogue Castle, are going to stay shut for the rest of the year.
In a statement today Shannon Group said that Bunratty Castle & Folk Park and King John’s Castle in Limerick will reopen from July 20 to August 31
A spokesperson said, “The closure of all Shannon Heritage sites on March 13th for public health reasons, has had a devastating impact on our business. It is becoming increasingly likely that there will be no international tourists in Ireland for the remainder of this year, a market that Shannon Heritage relies heavily on. As a result of this, Shannon Heritage has had to take difficult but necessary business decisions.
“Bunratty Castle & Folk Park and King John’s Castle will open for a 6-week period from July 20. As there may not be any international visitors, these sites will be open to service a limited domestic market and both sites will temporarily close at the end of the summer season on August 31 2020.
“Strict measures are being put in place to ensure the safety of our customers and staff, but with 26 acres at Bunratty Castle & Folk Park to explore, and a vast courtyard at King John’s Castle, there will be plenty of opportunity for social distancing.”
“Our retail outlet at the Cliffs of Moher will reopen in consultation with Clare County Council and in line with public health guidelines. Our other business operations in Clare and Limerick will remain closed for the remainder of 2020. Visitor attractions which we manage in Dublin will reopen in line with our contractual obligations. Staff who are not returning to work will remain on temporary lay-off and Shannon Heritage is liaising directly with affected staff.”
Local TD Cathal Crowe said he is disappointed with the move. ““It pains me to see so many people facing uncertain futures and this will come as a body blow to workers down at Bunratty Castle. I’ve got an annual pass to the castle and my family and I are there every other weekend and have missed it hugely during this pandemic.
“I would implore Shannon Group management to consider keeping their sites open even if only on weekends, to ensure continuity for the rest of the year and also to keep the workers at least somewhat in pocket for the remainder of 2020.”
Sinn Féin’s Violet Anne Wynne criticised the decision also. ““News that Workers at three Clare tourism sites owned by the Shannon Group are to be temporarily laid off for the remainder of 2020 is diabolical as Clare attempts to gain back it’s confidence by lifting COVID-19 restrictions.”
“It is not good enough for workers to face unemployment as part of a cost-saving measure, during the peak tourist season.”
“No clarity has yet been provided on the amount of individuals that will be let go and if the decision is permanent.”
“I believe the decision to close Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Knappogue and Craggaunowen is the wrong action as we try to save what is left of the Clare tourist season.”