Does size matter? Killarney says no

Simon Brouder

Hoteliers in Killarney have expressed confusion and annoyance at criticism of the town in a World Rugby Technical Review Group's report on Ireland's, seemingly doomed, bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The report contained numerous criticisms of the Irish bid and several specific references to Killarney and Fitzgerald Stadium, which was one of eight proposed venues in the Irish bid.

Specifically the World Rugby review panel said Killarney was too small and had little experience hosting major events.

Hoteliers in the tourist mecca have expressed annoyance at the review group's comments.

"While Killarney's population is smaller than other proposed host cities, the town has a disproportionately high number of hotels and guesthouses. Also, contrary to the report, Killarney has hosted the Irish Open four times," said Chairman of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotels Federation Patrick O'Donoghue of Killarney's Gleneagle Hotel.

"Killarney currently has in excess of 2,500 hotel rooms and has the highest concentration of four and five star hotels in Ireland. There are over 5,200 hotel rooms in Kerry, with many of these located in Killarney's neighbouring towns of Tralee, Kenmare and Dingle. These figures do not take into account the number of guesthouses, B&Bs, hostels and self-catering accommodation in the county," he said.

"The 2010 Irish Open welcomed an attendance of 85,179 over the four days while in 2011 the tally of attendees for the international gold tournament exceeded 86,500. While not an international event, the Kerry town also hosts the Munster Football Final on a regular basis with attendance figures, for the highly anticipated Cork and Kerry clashes, averaging just under 40,000 people," Mr O'Donoghue said.

"Killarney is accustomed to punching above its weight, and anyone that has attending a large-scale sporting event, concert or conference here will testify to that. The atmosphere, safety and professionalism of everyone involved is always second to none," added Mr O'Donoghue.