Monday 20 November 2017

'The activity holiday is growing and we want to make Killorglin a centre for this'

Publican Ger Counihan tending to flowers outside his pub Bunkers Bar in Killorglin, Co Kerry. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Publican Ger Counihan tending to flowers outside his pub Bunkers Bar in Killorglin, Co Kerry. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Chairman of Killorglin Chamber Alliance Ger Counihan opened his bar, restaurant and café Bunkers on the ­Iveragh Road in the mid-1980s.

His premises is across the road from Fexco HQ, and he admits he owes his success to the growth of the financial-services company in the town.

"You could say we grew up together, but it certainly helped me when I was starting out that this new employer was in town," he says.

Originally a shoe designer from Killarney, Counihan spotted an opportunity and hasn't looked back since. He now employs around 25 people all-year round.

The idea to form a chamber alliance only occurred about three years ago and followed some well-attended public meetings. He says the main incentive was the success of other towns such as Killarney.

Killorglin is located both on the Ring of Kerry and the Wild Atlantic Way, and is close to the start of the proposed Greenway in south Kerry that will run along the old Great Southern and Western railway line route from Glenbeigh to Renard.

It's also in close proximity to two golf courses, Killorglin and Dooks, and is already home to Cappanalea Outdoor Education and Training Centre. The River Laune and Carragh Lake are two other valuable amenities.

A picturesque town built on the banks of the River Laune, its tourism potential has not been exploited fully.

"The activity holiday is growing and we want to make Killorglin a centre for this," he says.

The challenges facing the town include the fact that it doesn't have a hotel, although it does boast a number of fine guesthouses and B&Bs. It is also lacking a swimming pool. Parking is a major problem, too, particularly in the summer months when thousands of people are passing through.

Counihan says Airbnb has been an integral part in the development of its tourism product.

"Airbnbs are very important now because the people who are climbing a mountain want a clean bed, a shower, a warm room, and we need to have rooms so they can stay here. We've no major hotel here, no spa, so obviously Airbnb is even more important as a result.

"It's also bringing people to parts of Ireland they would otherwise not have had the opportunity to visit," he said.

- Majella O'Sullivan

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