*Photograph: Joe Buckley

NEWMARKET-ON-FERGUS is gearing up for the return of the KMPG Women’s Irish Open with locals hopeful this time round the positive impact of the European Tour event will be visibly clear to see.

30,000 people attended the 2022 event which saw the Irish Open return to the European Tour after a ten year hiatus. Though a success from a sporting point of view, it failed to generate a significant economic boost for businesses in the village of Newmarket-on-Fergus with all of the activity kept in the confines of Dromoland Castle.

In a bid to drive some of the goodwill towards the village, the creation of the 19th Hole Community and Family Fun Festival and a shuttle bus every half hour aims to rectify this.

Organised by Clare County Council, the two-day family festival on Saturday and Sunday offers a diverse range of events, from the popular Shaskeen traditional music band and the Papa Zitas Motown band experience on Saturday evening to Clodagh Lawlor and Abba Sensations Tribute Band on Sunday evening. The programme of events ensures there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy, including children’s entertainment at O’Regan Park in Newmarket on Fergus.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Claire Coughlan owner of the Rós Café in the heart of the village said she was hopeful for a lift in business with The Irish Open in town. “We’d be very hopeful that there would be a good crowd around Dromoland and then the village which will benefit us. The promotion this year has been great, we’ve the festival this year on Saturday and Sunday which will bring extra bodies into ourselves and other local businesses”.

“There’s a great buzz around this year more so than last year, the flags and bunting is up, the place is looking great and there is great excitement from people calling in and looking around, I don’t think the same knowledge or interest was there last year which is a good sign already,” she added.

Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) believed the festival in the village offered something for all ages. “I’m delighted that local families from Newmarket-on-Fergus and surrounding areas can visit and enjoy a local concert without having to travel a big distance, the music is very open and enjoyable for families, their parents and older people, the times are good, it’s over at 10pm on Saturday and 9pm on Friday taking into consideration people living in the area. Some of the concerts years ago left a bad residue where people stayed around and there is still a negative residue from that through no fault of the organisers”.

He was hopeful Newmarket-on-Fergus could experience a patch of what Lahinch’s carnival atmosphere was like in 2019. “It’s loosely based on the Lahinch experience of The Irish Open, you were talking of a local highway and a major route, hopefully local businesses will have a positive experience and gain from this. It is a major thing for it to return after ten years and to be held twice in Dromoland”.

For golf fanatics travelling to Newmarket-on-Fergus, there is a lot to sample with Claire confirming that they be open every day that Irish Open is running with extended hours this Saturday while different food items will be added to the menu to mark the occasion. “For a small a village there’s so much in it that people coming to the golf last year didn’t get to see, the village definitely missed out last year, this year it is included and that is a real positive”.

On the course, the KPMG Books for Birdies campaign will see one children’s book donated by KPMG to local communities near Newmarket-on-Fergus for every birdie recorded. Through this initiative, KPMG expects to donate over €20,000 worth of children’s books to local schools.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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