Much more needs to be done to promote tourism around Thurles and Templemore, with the emphasis on improving broadband, and building a Greenway cycle route to attract visitors, heard the April meeting of Thurles Templemore Municipal District.
Cllr Eddie Moran suggested that the local authority needs to do more to promote a joined-up approach to promoting tourism with horse-racing. “They are not coordinated.” Why can’t the tourist board liaise with the horse racing authorities to link up with Thurles, Limerick Junction, and Clonmel, asked Cllr Moran.
Cllr Michael Smith said they must do everything possible to encourage tourism. “It’s fantastic news regarding Féile. We have to reach out to the GAA, to businesses, and everybody in Thurles and Templemore.”
The local authority could showcase “everything that is good about Thurles and Templemore. That should be done as soon as possible.”
Cllr Smith said he didn’t see enough joined up thinking regarding linking Thurles, Templemore, and other local areas to tourism campaigns such as the ‘Hidden Ireland’ tours. “We have to be saying ‘what will we do to encourage people to visit this fantastic location’. I would like to see more emphasis on that.”
Cllr Jim Ryan said the return of Féile will be a “huge boost to the town. It’s badly needed. I think it will be massive for Thurles. This Council will do whatever it can to promote it. I hope people will stay.” All the accommodation around Thurles was booked out within minutes of it being announced, but other towns can get involved.
Cllr Ryan said he would like to promote the idea of a Greenway cycle route from Thurles to Clonmel. He met an official from Waterford Co. Council and “I was gobsmacked by the level of support that came from the County Council to ensure that project was fulfilled.” The Waterford to Dungarvan Greenway has attracted over 300,000 people and the Thurles to Clonmel line would bring “huge benefits to Co. Tipperary.” “I think this project should be seriously looked at,” added Cllr Ryan. “There is one currently being constructed from Dublin to Galway.”
Cllr Ryan also pointed to the need for more high-speed broadband. Some 36% of households have no access to high-speed broadband.
“I have asked Eir, Sky, and I live a quarter of a mile outside Thurles. It’s an absolute joke. It’s not good enough. This is a crisis.
“We talk about trying to bring people and jobs, and industry, but we cannot get the basics right.
That cannot continue. It’s a huge problem for Tipperary.”
Cllr John Hogan said the lands for a Greenway from Thurles to Clonmel have been sold, and have been in private ownership “for 60 years.” It would be an “absolute nightmare” to ask people to sell their land. In Waterford, the land was still in the ownership of Iarnród Eireann.
A better route would be the one going through Bord Na Móna lands, from Templetuohy to Littleton to Killenaule.
Cllr Hogan said there is “fantastic” infrastructure already in place, and it goes through “amazing scenery”. “The infrastructure is intact. To me, that’s the one that should be pursued.”
Regarding the Féile, Cllr Hogan said he agreed the Council should link up with the various agencies to promote Thurles, perhaps by “putting something in the Square.” For two to three hours beforehand, festival goers will be in Thurles so there should be a “Fair in the Square to showcase Thurles that evening.”
Cllr Sean Ryan said the Bord Na Móna lands are a “vast area of track, stretching all the way to the border. It has huge potential.” A local bike-shop owner had asked him if the Greenway would come to fruition.
“Bord Na Móna owes it to give something back. Many people have worked there for a very long time. Bord Na Móna are leaving us now. It would be a nice legacy. We need somebody to take care of that land, and to deal with anti-social behaviour.”
Cllr Sean Ryan said the Féile will be a huge boost. Many people in the 1990s could rent out rooms for the night, so this time round people should “get a boost.”
Peter Casey from Dragon’s Den had visited Tipperary recently, and complained about the poor reception on his phone.
“There are too many blackspots around,” added Cllr Ryan. “We need to improve the broadband.” Reliable broadband and wi-fi is “so important.” “We could have free wi-fi in the town.”