North Tipperary is only getting “crumbs from the table” when it comes to tourism, it has been claimed by local councillors.
And the Lower Ormond area has been described as the “Syria of Tipperary” by Cllr Michael O’Meara.
The comments came after Tipperary County Council tourism development officer Marie Phelan, and tourism officer Aine McCarthy gave presentations to Nenagh Municipal District Council on tourism.
Much of Ms Phelan’s presentation concentrated on developing a Butler Trail in South Tipp and a Suir Blue Way from Cahir to Carrick-on-Suir. She pointed out that Tipperary was now part of Ireland’s Ancient East, which covers 17 counties, and Lough Derg was part of the Lakelands Region.
Ms McCarthy outlined how the E2m Lough Derg Stimulus Fund was to be spent, with most of it going to the Portroe / Ballina end of the lake and a fishing ramp the only project being looked at north of Nenagh.
“Disappointed would be too mild a word,” was Cllr Joe Hannigan’s response to the presentations. “Not one thing is being done from the Nenagh River to the Brosna. It is alarming to see all the work being done elsewhere.”
He added the rider “but, of course, we have gone into Offaly”, a reference to the Dail constituency Lower Ormond will be in for the next general election.
His points were taken up by Cllr Michael O’Meara, who said they were getting no funding from Oireachtas representatives in either Tipperary or Offaly. “We are the Syria of Tipperary,” he said.
Cllr O’Meara was “totally disillusioned” with the presentations. “The people of Lower Ormond are waking up to the potential of tourism but will be left behind. We are falling between two stools.”
Cllr Phyll Bugler described Ms Phelan’s presentation as “excellent, but we are getting the crumbs from the table”.
Declaring that she “loves Lough Derg”, Cllr Bugler said she felt “like Clint Eastwood fighting on her own for everything. I am very unhappy about it.” The tourism drive was “very much weighted in South Tipp’s favour. I am heavy hearted.”
She also took issue with the county’s new webiste - www.tipperary.com - and with the Lough Derg Lakelands branding, saying people would confuse Tipp’s lake with Donegal’s pilgrimage lake. She demanded that the word Shannon be in the branding and descibed the new signs as “meagre”.
Cllr John Carroll agreed with her on branding, saying that most people think of Cavan as Ireland’s lakelands.
Cllr Seamus Morris warned of the threat to take water from Lough Derg and pump it to Dublin. “Sailing and fishing on Lough Derg has to be protected. When we are writing our tourism policy, protecting Lough Derg must be in there,” he said.
He was supported by MDC Cathaoirleach Cllr Ger Darcy, who said, as it was, the ESB could lower the water at the “drop of a hat” and cruisers were going aground.
District manager Marcus O’Connor pointed out that North Tipperary was coming from a low rate of tourism. He described the presentations as excellent. He was encouraged by the work that was being done.
He defended the new website name, and while he took councillors’ points on Lower Ormond, he said there were not too many projects forthcoming and there was a short time scale in which to spend the stimulus funding.
Mr O’Connor also agreed with comments that farmers should cut their foliage to allow a better view of the lake, saying: “That would never happen in Kerry”.
Tipperary got 168,000 overseas visitors in 2013 and a further 137,000 domestic visitors, with a combined spend of E72m.