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Saturday 14 December 2019

Renowned hotelier criticised for saying people in Sligo 'wouldn't work in a fit'

Mayor of Sligo Municipal District Cllr Marie Casserly and Francis Brennan during the filming of At Your Service in Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo. Photo: Matt Britton.
Mayor of Sligo Municipal District Cllr Marie Casserly and Francis Brennan during the filming of At Your Service in Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo. Photo: Matt Britton.

Grace Larkin

Renowned hotelier Francis Brennan found himself in hot water after stating in a newspaper article that people in Sligo "wouldn’t work in a fit".

During an interview with his brother John in this week’s Sunday Business Post Mr Brennan said: "My vision of Sligo is always outside the Post Office, 15 fellas smoking and collecting their dole. That’s my vision of Sligo because they wouldn’t work in a fit. They wouldn’t understand what we do in Kerry."

Mayor of Sligo Municipal District Cllr Marie Casserly said while people were disappointed with the comments, Sligo could stand on its own feet. “It’s disappointing because everybody is working very hard on the ground to promote Sligo positively and I don’t think it’s a fair reflection of Sligo."

Mayor Casserly has issued an invitation to Mr Brennan to come and see what Sligo has to offer.

"I invite him to Sligo to have a tour of the county and to see the fantastic work that is being done. We have an awful lot of what Kerry doesn’t have. We don’t want to be like Kerry. We are Sligo and we are proud. We have something very unique to offer," she said.

The Mayor said she was surprised with the comments as when Mr Brennan visited the county two years ago to film an episode of At Your Service in the Beach Hotel in Mullaghmore he was very complimentary about Sligo.

"An invitation has been extended and we will bring him around and we will show him the sights and we will show him the great culinary fare, the Sligo Food Trail, the adventure tourism. We have so much to offer. I think it makes us want to even work harder to prove what he is saying isn’t true. But we would welcome any advice Francis has to give us," said Cllr Cassidy.

However Francis Brennan’s brother John Brennan, who also featured in the Sunday Business Post article, said the comments referred to the reliance of South Kerry on tourism while Sligo could boast a successful culture of industry. He said although the comments were taken out of context, he stood over them.

"The point was absolutely correct and if it was misinterpreted we apologise, there was no offence meant. We know what the county has to offer inside out.

"The difference between other places and South Kerry is that there is nothing else but tourism in South Kerry. There is nothing here in the winter. As a result people here have multiple jobs. There was nothing sinister about Sligo.

"The comment was made about the entrepreneurial spirit of tourism in South Kerry. I would always say Sligo has every single thing Kerry has, not in the same abundance, but most importantly the county isn’t as imbued in tourism as Kerry has been for the last 100 years.

"That was the basis of the point that was made to the journalist which I still stand over. There is nothing wrong with the comment and nothing wrong with the view, it is a statement of fact," he said.

He added that his brother’s comments about the dole queue referred to his time in Sligo in the 1970s.

As a trainee assistant manager he said Francis’s move from Sligo, where the family lived and their mother and many other family members still live, to the successful tourist economy of the South Kerry area, was an eye opener.

"He was a 19-year-old in Cathal Brugha Street and he was dispatched to Ryan’s which is now the Sligo Park Hotel. Sligo was a different town than it is today. He left there and went to Kerry in 1980 and it was a very different world. That was the context of the whole article," said Mr Brennan.

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