CAHERCON PIER IS CURRENTLY “UNDER-UTILISED” and the cruise industry has once again been pinpointed by a West Clare elected representative as an avenue to amend this and try bring an economic lift to Kildysart and the surrounding areas.
Senior planner within the economic directorate of Clare County Council, Helen Quinn has acknowledged, “the potential ability of Cahercon Pier to tender passengers to the northern shore of the Shannon Estuary in Co Clare would see considerable economic benefit for West and North Clare through the provision of tours, site visits and excursions which would otherwise not be possible if passengers were tendered to the southern shore and predominantly Foynes Port due to time restrictions on cruise calls”.
September 2021 was the most recent meeting between members of the economic directorate and Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC). They discussed Foynes’ requirements regarding the potential tendering of passengers from cruise ships docked in the Shannon Estuary to the pier at Cahercon which is owned by the County Council.
Clare County Council has also collaborated with SFPC and other adjoining local authorities to form Cruise Shannon Estuary. Ms Quinn explained that this is an initiative “to sustainably grow the cruise and sustainable marine tourism industry and establishing the Shannon Estuary and Co Clare as one of the top destinations for cruise liners in Europe”.
Since the engagement eighteen months ago, the Council have undertaken preliminary investigations into the engineering feasibility of the pier meeting the requirements of the Marine Survey Office (MSO). “The MSO must be satisfied with the infrastructure prior to any cruise calls taking place which will involve both the shore and land-based elements for this industry,” the senior planner stated.
She flagged that funding to support upgrades to Cahercon Pier must also be explored “not only in the context of the cruise sector but also to facilitate the future use of the pier by the offshore renewable energy sector”.
Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) had appealed for “possible opportunities available to Kildysart in relation to a partnership approach with Foynes with regards cruise transfers” to be examined by the local authority.
Speaking at the March meeting of the West Clare Municipal District, he said, “we’re not looking for any more, we just want our fair share. Kildysart a great town and community, it is crying out for it, it has an under-utilised pier. The Ryder Cup is coming up and people will be coming into the region”.
Efforts to transfer sites such as Bunratty Castle and Folk Park into the Council’s ownership could also be used to promote the cruise industry in Kildysart, he believed. “There is potential to manage it, set up Cahercon to get them in and slow them down. Kildysart needs a hand and the investment, if we can get them in and then manage the tourism side after it”.
Speculation of a hotel being mooted for Kildysart was referenced by Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG).
Head of Business Development at SFPC, Jerry Hallissey has expressed a willingness to brief councillors in the West Clare MD with Cllr Shane Talty (FF) hopeful that this will take place during their May meeting.
Clare will get no benefit from the cruise industry, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) insisted. The tourism consultant remarked, “There is some very sketchy economic development document around as to the benefit of the cruise industry. If I never saw them come up the river it wouldn’t bother me. I’m not saying we should get our share, I’m saying there should be none”.
“They are coming to Foynes anyway,” replied Cllr Ian Lynch while the Cathaoirleach, Cllr Talty moved the meeting swiftly on, fully aware that his counterparts in Kilrush and Kilkee were capable of letting off enough steam on the subject to power one of the cruise liners.