AS TEMPERATURES soar across Waterford, the local economy is also enjoying a rise in its fortunes.
Crowds of sun worshippers are flocking to coastal locations including the traditional favourites of Tramore and Dunmore East – generating a huge surge in the economic activities in such areas. Huge numbers attended last weekend’s Dunmore East Festival of Food, Fish and Fun which consisted of family fun, plenty of delicious food and live entertainment (See News 32 and 22 for photo coverage). Dave Harris, Director of Dunmore East Tourism and Commerce Group and proprietor of The Bay Café, said the village enjoyed a “bumper weekend”.“People came from far and wide. There was great activity around the entire village and harbour area,” he said.
He said the festival generated a “carnival atmosphere” and provided an economic boost to all local businesses.The newly revamped Portally Cliff Walk is proving very popular in Dunmore East as is the Park area, particularly with families. Mr Harris says there is significant water sport activity and says many foreign yachts are also visible in and around the harbour area. The glorious weather is also showcasing the popular Waterford Greenway in all its spectacular beauty.
The new amenity is continuing to attract huge numbers of visitors from Ireland and abroad and is generating big business for areas such as Dungarvan.
Kilmacthomas in particular is enjoying a bumper summer 2018 season thanks to the Greenway – a remarkable feat given that the village was never previously regarded as a tourist destination.
Helen Ridgard runs the popular Waterford Hospice Sunflower Shop on the village’s Main Street. “We were bypassed for so long but people are now discovering Kilmac. We are now a tourist town which is something we never thought we’d be able to say,” she said. Cyclists and campervans are now a common sight around the village.
“Everything is looking so well. The village is a different place and there’s such a holiday atmosphere,” she said.
“We’ve had lots of people in the shop from many different places. We recently had one guy from New Zealand who was visiting Kilmac as part of a two day tour of Ireland. He managed to fit Kilmac into his tight schedule!” She provides tourist information at the shop and takes great pleasure in pointing out the many local attractions to visitors. “We have so much – the mountains, the sea, Curraghmore House, Mount Congreve and of course the Greenway,” she said.
Stephen Lynch of Coach House Coffee, which is located directly alongside the Waterford Greenway at the Union Workhouse, says the current spell of good weather is prompting huge numbers of visitors to explore the Greenway. “The Greenway has truly been a game changer in Waterford in terms of tourism and the wider economy,” he said. “There’s no doubting that the Greenway has provided a significant boost to the Waterford economy but it has had a particularly positive impact on the local economy of Kilmac.”
He explained that Coach House Coffee employs over 30 people – jobs which were created as a direct result of the Greenway.“We also use all local suppliers and, as a result, we are keeping money in the local economy and indirectly supporting the jobs associated with our suppliers,” he said.
He agrees that Kilmac has been transformed since the Greenway opened. “Kilmac has never looked so well or been as busy,” he said.
“We have new coffee shops, the Tidy Towns group are working extremely hard, shops are painted, and, overall, the village looks very inviting. Between the jobs at Coach House Coffee and the additional jobs created in the village as a direct result of the Greenway, the economic benefits are easily seen.”
Kilmac is set to play a key role in the upcoming Comeraghs Wild Festival which will include a street fete in the village.The warm weather and success of the Greenway has also generated increased interest in Mount Congreve Gardens as well as Fairbrook House and Gardens in Kilmeaden.Clary Mastenbroek at Fairbrook says many visitors are being enticed to visit the house and gardens while travelling on the Greenway. Her annual open day in aid of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind was held in gloriously sunny conditions on Sunday last and raised €450. “We had a great turnout with people coming and going all day,” she explained.
“The gardens are a paradise when the sun is shining.”
Along the nearby Copper Coast, villages such as Bonmahon are enjoying their time in the spotlight thanks to the good weather.
Meanwhile, in Portlaw, the grounds at Curraghmore were transformed on Friday evening last as crowds flocked to enjoy Chapter House Theatre Company’s production of ‘Little Women’. With even warmer weather on the way, and events such as the Tramore Promenade Festival coming up this weekend (see News 24-27), Waterford can look forward to continued fun in the sun. Also monitoring the weather, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is advising farmers to mind themselves and their livestock during the prolonged hot spell.“The threat of forest fires has increased significantly and farmers should be vigilant to avoid damage to crops,” a spokesman said.
“The high temperatures pose a challenge to farmers. It’s important to remain safe and to avoid sunstroke.
Waterford IFA Chairman Kevin Kiersey says it’s very important to ensure animals have enough water and he is also encouraging all farmers to be vigilant during the hot spell.He says farmers need to take precautions to ensure they do not become too tired when working in extreme heat, especially if operating machinery.
Forest owners, farmers, rural dwellers and other countryside users are asked to be extremely vigilant regarding fire activity, to report any suspicious or illegal activity to the Gardaí and to report all fires immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services via 112/999.In a statement, the Department of Agriculture said: “Highest ignition risk is deemed to exist in public amenity areas adjacent to urban centres and on areas of open at risk from illegal burning of waste. Increased growth levels and live fuel moisture in upland fuels, coupled with high humidity levels can be expected to moderate fire behaviour and spread rates at this point, subject to local terrain and wind conditions.”
Irish Water has also appealed to the public to conserve water as a prolonged dry spell has been predicted by Met Éireann. Demand for water is increasing and this year’s extended dry spells have prompted Met Éireann has compared the current hot spell to 1976 when drought conditions were experienced across the country.
Some areas in Kilkenny have experienced outages and restrictions, with Irish Water’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Kate Gannon stating: “The longer this continues, the more people will be at risk of shortages and outages…”The top three measure that people can take are not using a hose to water the garden or wash cars; keeping paddling pools very shallow if they are being used; and taking short showers rather than baths. Our Drought Management Team are monitoring the situation daily across the country but if everyone can take these simple steps, it will help us to manage supply and demand. This is a very serious situation and we are seeking the public’s help. Every effort the public make to conserve water will benefit them and their community.”