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July 10, 2023

On Saturday July 8th, the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce report was launched by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar supported by Minister Eamon Ryan, Minister Simon Coveney and Minister Norma Foley at Ardnacrusha Power Station in Clare. As CEO of Tralee Chamber Alliance, Kerry’s largest business

representative organisation and as a lifelong resident of North Kerry, I cannot overstate the significance of this milestone.

The Shannon Estuary region has for too long been a source of frustration both from an industry point of view and from a community’s perspective. The opportunities to develop this region are vast and if captured will drive a much-needed level of economic growth into the West of Ireland. These development opportunities will provide balance to the industry that will mirror the success of the investment in the East.

The Shannon Taskforce has created a report that gives clear recommendations towards the implementation of its findings to ensure that this will not just become a reference document.

Key outcomes from the report are as follows:

  • To create 50,000 incremental Green Jobs utilising Wind Energy
  • 10,000 jobs and a Net Zero region by 2035 using Atlantic Wind Energy
  • Grow the existing economy through secure, affordable, lower carbon energy
  • Create a leading place to live, visit and invest

Tralee as the county town, is well positioned to play a lead role in the implementation with excellent resources in terms of education with MTU expected to play a significant role through R&D, while Kerry College is home to Ireland’s Wind Turbine Maintenance Technician Apprenticeship.

Connectivity is continuously improving both in terms of national travel and the long-term plan to connect the Kingdom of Kerry Greenways giving Fenit a direct connection right across the Kerry Limerick border. The development of shared beach facilities in Fenit and Ballybunion, supported by Fáilte Ireland Platforms for Growth programme, will ensure the greenway acts as central link between land and marine based activity tourism where the greenway also connects with the trans-European EuroVelo route, a key tourism opportunity. The Taskforce supports the intention to deliver the planned Listowel to Fenit phase of the Greenway which will then result in over 90 km of uninterrupted greenway from Limerick to Fenit, linking key heritage and historic towns such as Tralee, Listowel and Newcastle West.

To further enhance the tourism offering, a comprehensive water-based product portfolio is proposed. These proposals will have the potential to maximise the opportunities that are presented by Lough Derg, the lower Shannon, its Estuary and the Atlantic including connecting with Tralee Bay, Kilrush and Kilkee Bay on the mouth of the estuary. Actions here will allow for greater dispersal of tourism activity, attract higher spend and longer-stay tourists, extend the tourism season and explore the potential to link greenways to blueways unlocking the potential to explore new landscapes. 

In terms of offshore opportunities there is clear potential that needs to be explored from this point on. Fenit Port as a support facility for Shannon Foynes Port has the potential to be a focal point of development in Estuary projects.

I was glad to have been afforded the opportunity to contribute to the work of the Taskforce through involvement in the Tourism subgroup led by my Chambers Ireland colleague Dee Corbett Ryan – CEO of Limerick Chamber. I would also like to pay tribute to Dr. Brendan O’Donnell of MTU who sat on the Taskforce and maintained regular communication with Tralee Chamber Alliance throughout the process.

The full report can be downloaded here and I encourage everyone to take the time to read through it.

Colette O’Connor
Chief Executive
Tralee Chamber Alliance

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