THE Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, TD will preside over the official opening and launch of 'Kingdom Falconry - Discover Birds of Prey' at its base in Crag Cave here in Castleisland on this Sunday, September 16 at 2pm.
Kingdom Falconry is a new startup business offering a variety of activities that seeks to engage with the public through the presentation and flying of a significant range of birds of prey. The business offers a range of services, including: Flying Displays of various birds of prey; Hawk Walks; Owl Encounters; School Tours and other activities that promote the conservation and appreciation of birds of prey and the art and practice of falconry.
At the end of the summer, Kingdom Falconry was offering two flying displays daily at Crag Cave. They are currently running two shows every weekend and one each day from Tuesday to Friday.
The flying displays are about an hour long and there can be up to eight birds flying during the displays, providing a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of majestic and aweinspiring birds of prey - owls, hawks and falcons.
"During our shows, children and adults will learn lots of fascinating facts about birds of prey, their place in nature in the wider ecosystem and the importance of different habitats to different species, including habitat protection, conservation and bio-diversity, said business co-founder Eoghan Ryan.
Children and guests alike are invited to call the owls and other birds to their gloved fist. These birds are used to being handled by children and it is completely safe.
"The business aims to educate our audience through an engaging and entertaining flying display. We think that we have something fresh and exciting to offer schools and the general public.' The real highlight of the show are the spectacular flights of the falcons as they swoop in over the audience towards the lure with amazing dexterity and speed," according to Eric Witkowski,
Kingdom Falconry also offers 'Hawk Walks' - an hour long walk in the open countryside where trained hawks will freely follow their guests along the way and can be called to their gloved fist.
Eric and Eoghan are hopeful that a number of hotels in the Tralee and Killarney area will see this as an added tourist attraction for their guests.
They also have secured permission to fly their hawks on lands on the edge of Tralee and Killarney. Ballyseede Castle Hotel has already expressed interest in these activities and is offering ' hawk walks' to its guests and has asked Kingdom Falconry to do 'flying displays' at the grounds of the castle once a week over the coming weeks.
Owl Encounters are also offered by the business, particularly for groups of children - where they will get the opportunity to lightly touch the owls, learn simple and fascinating facts and have their photograph taken with an owl.
These will also be offered as part of the Crazy Cave birthday parties at Crag Caves. Working with Crag Cave, Kingdom Falconry is also hopeful that they can promote both the bird of prey displays with the cave tours maintaining Crag Cave's reputation as an ideal choice for school tours.
The business was established by two falconers, Eric Witkowski and Eoghan Ryan, who have a passion for birds of prey and seek to share their passion and enthusiasm with the wider public. The business start-up was supported by North & East Kerry Development.
Both Eric and Eoghan have each over 15 years experience with birds of prey.
Eric is Polish and has been living in Ireland for eight years. He is married and living in Castleisland with his wife and two children. Eoghan is President of the Irish Hawking Club and is married to a local Kerry woman from Castlegregory.
'As falconers, the business also promotes the art and practice of falconry, which was recognised by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage in 2010.
As a local man, and Minister with responsibility for heritage, Jimmy Deenihan, was a natural choice for the launch of the business', said Eoghan.