Rachel Keane, who represents the company’s employees in the mid-west at well known tourist attractions such as Bunratty Castle, said today that, “The decision not to reopen the historical cultural sites on a full-time basis is greatly concerning. The company has told staff that Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, and King John’s Castle in Limerick will only open for a 6-week period from 20th July to 31st August 2020.
“All other sites in the region, including Craggaunowen – The Living Past Experience, Co Clare, Knappogue, Co Clare , Dunguaire Castle, Co Galway and the Adare Heritage Centre in County Limerick will remain shut.”
Sites around Dublin, including the GPO Witness History Museum, the Casino Model Railway Museum, Malahide Castle and Gardens, Newbridge House and Farm will re-open in line with their contractual obligations to An Post and Fingal County Council.
The company normally employs 159 staff on a fulltime basis and a further 200 on a seasonal basis. “The decision to mothball three sites will have a huge economic impact locally. The sites concerned contribute an estimated €20 million annually in spin-off revenue, benefitting a range of local businesses.
“Given the difficulties the tourism sector will encounter on its road to recovery, failure to fully open these sites will undermine efforts to revive the sector”, Rachel Keane said.
Joanna Ozdarska, SIPTU Organiser for the employees in Dublin said, “We have a scheduled meeting with the employer representatives tomorrow Thursday and we will be asking them to outline their proposals in detail, and tell us why sites are being mothballed. We will be asking Shannon Heritage to commit to helping the local economy, hospitality workers in Ireland and the industry generally by ensuring that these vital state treasures remain accessible and available to us all.
“We will be making a more detailed statement following our meeting with the employer representatives“.
Shannon Heritage is owned by Shannon Airport, which is currently seeking a financial support package from the Minister for Finance. SIPTU Sector Organiser Martin O’Rourke said, “It would be short sighted of the airport in the extreme to try and make up funding shortfalls by closing some of the main tourist attractions that draw foreign visitors to the region, and Ireland in general”.