Thursday, January 12, 2006
Killarney worships at the altar of modern-day gods
By: Donal Hickey
IF Killarney is so unpopular with tourists, how come millions of people from all over the world have continued to visit the resort over the past 250 years? And they’re still coming in large numbers, to the extent that there are now tourists in Killarney 365 days a year.
Tourist surveys and guidebooks criticise Killarney all the time, with the latest unfavourable finding coming from a survey conducted by a Kilkenny-based website, Do.Chara.com.
Killarney Mayor Tom Doherty has questioned the accuracy of this survey, given that it was carried over the internet.
We don’t know whether the 1,100 people who took part in the survey ever visited the places in Ireland they were commenting on, or if they were just depending on photographs, or hearsay.
There has been for many years a “knock Killarney” attitude which may arise from jealousy because of the perception that Killarney always seems to be doing well.
But, in spite of the critics, visitors are undeterred. They must be getting value for money and enjoying themselves in Killarney, seeing that they keep on coming. That’s not to say, however, that Killarney can afford to become complacent.
Cllr Michael Courtney has been involved in tourism for much of his life and he believes that what visitors say – especially when it’s negative – should always be noted.
He also made a point with which many people would agree – that Killarney town has suffered from overdevelopment in recent years.
“We’ve enough high-rise buildings, apartments and townhouses. A stage has been reached where you can no longer see the mountains from many parts of the town,” Cllr Courtney stated. Too late. The damage has been done. Kenmare and Dingle should be careful because they are heading down the same road.
In some ways, Killarney town has improved – floral window boxes, planting on roundabouts, more trees and the removal of plastic signage from buildings have all helped enhance its appearance.
But, some monstrosities of buildings have been erected in Killarney in recent years, out of character and out of scale with other buildings in the town.
Likewise with the old lanes which could have been tastefully restored for business and residential uses under the urban renewal scheme. Instead, the lanes have been suffocated by apartment blocks, some of which keep out the light.
Too many people are worshipping at the altar of the twin modern-day gods – money and development – which is not always in the best interest of public, or Killarney.
But, greed has taken over in some cases. Thank God for blessings like the National Park, which the cash-rich developers can’t touch.
Killarney Town Council should also review the whole planning scenario and visualise what the town should look like 10 to 20 year hence. A problem is, however, that the council is taking in big money in development levies – an incentive in itself to grant planning.
Meanwhile, it looks as if the council is at last prepared to tackle the vexed horse manure on the streets issue, which has been allowed drag on unresolved for far too long.
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