Doneraile Opinion

Issued 18-9-2012


Last Monday marked the opening of the tearooms in Doneraile Court, which was a really significant moment in the development of tourism in mid-Munster. You might ask why a tearoom is so special – essentially it now provides facilities who visit this marvellous park. Doneraile Park’s evolution has occurred much like a four- there are four main elements to it which contribute together to provide what is a development with massive potential. Firstly there is the Doneraile Development Assoication charged by willie Pat Hallihan, OPW with Commissioner John McMahon who is following in the able footsteps of John Sydneham, thirdly there is the huge input and good will of Cork County Council and lastly there is the political representations both at a local and national level. All of these parts have combined to set about threinvigoration, development of Doneraile Park in a manner which is fitting and accurate and true to its heritage. Doneraile Park has wonderful examples of gardens dating across four centuries, which is unique in the British Isles. It also has  ? hectares of parks and walkways and, of course, it also boasts the spectacular Doneraile Court. What stuck me forcibly on the opening occasions was the huge good will. In times of economic difficulties, there is a determination out there to ensure that the development of Doneraile Court will happenin a progressive fashion. Whilst we would all
like for the development to be compmleted in a short period of time, it is conversely like our economic sitatuion in the country; it won’t be done in the short term but will be done in the medium to long term. It’s restoration will be completed to its full potential without using any of its massive cultural heritage and will be a true represtnation of what Doneraile Park actually signifies. 2012 will stand out ong in the memory of many people, especially rural people, as being a year of huge rainfall and poor sunshine and whilst we would love to sell sunshine in this country, it might  not be that reliable. However what we can sell and market are our literary tourism and Doneraile and North Cork is the
heavy weight in this area. It boasts no fewer than Canon Sheehan, Edmund Spenser,
Elizabeth  Bowen. On p of that we can also market our cultal tourism. Of which Doneraile park is steeped in. Such examples as thirst lady  freemason etc. As I stood in the tearooms and looked around me I gazed upon the limestone pavement on the floor and wondered at what stories these paves could tell and then it occurred to me that these are the stores that we need to start telling and sharing with the world. Huge credit is due to the OPW for their commitment to this project. Minister Brian Hayes, who is also our junior Finance Minister
has been down to Doneraile on no less than two occasions formally. And with his busy schedule this signifies a hugely positive engagement by the Minister and also the OPW. This is clearly also a core element of this government’s tourism policy, which has seen VAT rates relatinonto tourism drop to 9% and, thankfully, the results of that were seen to bear fruit in 2011 when visitor numbers

Eamon Horgan, who is vice-chairman of Doneraile Development Association was my teacher in primary and his positive influence has helped to mould many people, including myself, in many positive ways. It is great to see people of this dedication still involved. When I think back to my schooldays in Doneraile, Doneraile Park was only a pale shadow of what it is today – with run down buildings, poorly maintained with virtually no facilities. The only playground that was there was located by the bridge in Doneraile and was only a fraction of the fantastic playground that is there today. More than 30 years later I look back on my childhood in Doneraile and I look at it from the perspective of a parent with three children and realise the fantastic facilities that are there for people to
enjoy, free of charge, at their leisure. I have no doubt that any family like my own will come to Doneraile right throughout the year.

The fabulous  playground not only offers a facility for the kids to enjoy themselves but I  have found it a great place for parents to meet up for social interaction.

Quote from a Disney character which many of the people in that playground will be well familiar with. It is clear to me that the potential of Doneraile Park will go to infinity and beyond.