St Patrick’s Day 2013

Here is a selection of images from Kilfenora’s typically lively and humorous St Patrick’s Day parade, followed by a lengthy music session in one of our pubs including many distinguished Clare musicians.

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Plan to promote the Burren – will it happen?

There was an announcement today by Fáilte Ireland of a ‘new plan that will help drive and sustain tourism in the Burren and Cliffs of Moher’.

Interestingly the ‘Visitor Experience Development Plan for the Burren and Cliffs of Moher’ is actually the same document that was finalised pre-pandemic and made available 21 months ago in January 2020. The website page with supporting documentation has not noticeably changed since early last year. https://www.failteireland.ie/Wild-Atlantic-Way/Wild-Atlantic-Way-experience-development/Burren.aspx

Preparatory work on the document started in 2017, and the first draft was produced in 2018. As with so many of these initiatives, it was consultancy-led.

There is a section on Kilfenora, but readers will be bemused by the inaccuracies and out-of-date entries in the section concerning the village. That text, like much of the plan, has not actually changed in 3 years. However one slightly bizarre suggestion, namely to create a ‘butterfly farm’ in Kilfenora, has been dropped since the 2018 version.

The document states that “the views of local communities and participants in the Burren were of fundamental importance in the development of the Plan.” In fact there was no consultation with the Kilfenora community – a prime reason for the inaccuracies – and a request last year for the community to be able to engage in the (already published) plan’s implementation was refused. Some other communities were also not consulted. The preference was stated to deal with selected contacts in certain businesses rather than engage with communities.

Local readers may be amazed that Burren gateway villages such as Corofin and Kilnaboy have been left out completely. And apart from some text defects, the more eagle-eyed will also observe oddities among the illustrative photos. In the case of the Kilfenora page the newly published version no longer has a picture with any relevance to the village.

Despite such flaws there are many good ideas and observations in the document, and it is to be hoped that it will lead to positive action, and with more alacrity than it has taken to generate the ‘plan’. It is well worth reading thoroughly.

The significant push-back across North Clare about the initial consultancy-led ‘Cliffs of Moher strategy’ and its evident disregard of investment in the Burren as a whole may be starting to get some traction. The press statement accompanying the ‘new’ (if old!) plan makes the right noises about distributing visitors and their spend more evenly across the region – as communities have been demanding for years.

For example, given its unique attractions, the ‘City of the Crosses’ should be a must-visit destination when promoting the Wild Atlantic Way in Clare – rather than a forgotten drive-through in the ‘hinterland’. This requires positive and proactive response to community requests for improved visitor signage and facilities, just to start with. Kilfenora Development Community Group and the Tidy Towns Team have been doing as much as they can this year, but with miniscule resources.

To make meaningful progress the key actors behind this plan will need to demonstrate real commitment to rural regeneration, with serious investment both financially and in engaging with local communities, such has clearly not been happening hitherto. Actions will speak louder than words.

The only sign that tells visitors from the Ennis-Corofin direction that you are approaching Kilfenora – but recently destroyed by joy riders and no replacement being offered
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