By Sean Moriarty

 

Killarney businesses will be able to apply to Kerry County Council for grants to encourage outdoor dining as part of a national programme to reopen the country. Hospitality sector business will be able to claim €4,000 or 75 percent of the cost of outdoor furniture like seating and tables and other fixtures like external heaters.

It was announced earlier this week that a total of €17m is being made available nationally under a two-part scheme which will be delivered in partnership between Fáilte Ireland and Local Authorities.

Part One of the scheme will provide funding for individual tourism and hospitality businesses to develop and increase their own outdoor seating capacity.

Funding allocated under Part Two will enable Local Authorities to develop permanent outdoor public dining spaces in towns and urban centres, similar to those that exist in various European cities.

Cllr Michael Gleeson has previously called for such a public scheme to be created in Killarney and he pushed for this even before the pandemic brought the idea of outdoor dining to the fore.

“Prior to the abolition of town councils we looked at this a lot. A factory in Germany was visited but it all went on the backfoot,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “It is amazing how these things come the full circle and is back on the agenda again. I would welcome such a move, it would greatly enhance the ambience of our town for locals and visitors alike.”

At the time of Gleeson’s first proposal in 2013 a local engineer, Paudie O’Mahoney, devised a plan to keep the rain off of tourists and locals alike.

It included placing an ‘artificial roof’ over the streets of Killarney which can be removed in the summer when the weather is nice and put back up when it’s raining.

Kerry County Council’s Chief Executive Moira Murrell, is also Chair of the Rural Development, Community, Tourism, Culture and Heritage Committee, the national body behind the scheme.

“We look forward to creating outdoor dining experiences around the country that not only benefit locals, but are also attractive to domestic and overseas visitors when the sector reopens,” she said. “Developing outdoor infrastructure is a key element of answering the consumer demand for more flexible dining options.”