The first official meeting of the newly formed ‘Hidden Tipperary,’ Group was held in Lár na Páirce GAA Museum on Monday, January 13th, at 7;00 pm. This new voluntary group was formed following the recent invitation by the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Mr Alan Kelly TD, to attend a meeting in early December 2013, to discuss the future of tourism in the Thurles area.
Those in attendance included; Cyril Cullen (Farney Castle), Nuala Ryan (Upperchurch /Drombane Dev Assn), Pat Slattery (Cormackstown Museum), Liam Ó Donnchú, Seamus J. King & Jim O’Regan (Lár na Páirce), Michael Long (Cabragh Wetlands), Adam Tozer (Holycross Abbey), Johnny Enright (Thurles Sarsfields), David Morgan (Semple Stadium), Una Ryan (Marketing Eye) and George Willoughby (St. Mary’s Famine Museum).
Mr George Willoughby acted as Chairperson, at the request of the groups elected Chairperson Mr Tom Noone, latter who was unavoidably indisposed. At the request of the absent Chairperson, George called for volunteers to the vacant posts of Secretary, Treasurer and PRO. Following some discussion Seamus King (Lár na Páirce) was unanimously appointed as Secretary, while Nuala Ryan (Upperchurch / Drombane) was appointed Treasurer and George Willoughby (St. Mary’s Famine Museum) appointed as PRO, with all posts to be held until date of first AGM in 2015.
The acting Chairperson then requested that each of the present representative should express their thoughts as to what they believed should be the purpose of the newly formed group and the achievable targets that required immediate action over the coming 12 months.
Amongst the many ideas expressed were:
(1) The tourism sector in Mid-Tipperary required a fuller realisation and marketing strategy.
(2) As a group working closely together, the area held a massive joint package to offer both visitors not just in Mid-Tipperary but indeed the greater heartland of Ireland.
(3) The group should focus on specific achievable markets, rather than have a scatter-gun approach.
(4) The group needed to think and work jointly in the promotion of the tourism sector, while simultaneously not forgetting their own individual special attractions and interests.
(5) Greater community support and co-operation for the Thurles Sarsfields’ hurling festival which had already demonstrated tourism potential.
(6) A more active canvassing of the bus tour and car rental market.
(7) Networking; Greater use of the Internet and Social Media in the selling of the ‘Hidden Ireland’ trademark as an effective marketing tool.
(8) Personal and local history/geography are a core Strand at all levels of the Education Curriculum, with the curriculum itself emphasising that through local history/geography, all students can readily acquire and practise such research skills, thus becoming familiar with, and learning to value, the local environment and while learning to appreciate the elements of the past which has given them and their locality a sense of identity. To this end therefore all members of the Hidden Tipperary group had an enormous contribution to make to both students and teachers involved in the educational sector.
(9) Representatives from the Restaurant, Hotel and Bed and Breakfast sectors should now be actively encouraged to join the Hidden Tipperary group.
At the request of the acting chairman, those attending were invited to provide, in text format, a short introduction to their varying tourist activities, together with photographs and similar text containing a fully detailed description of their particular tourism attraction. On receipt same will be posted on the website ‘Hidden Tipperary’ in the coming weeks. (Since the meeting work has already begun to this end – See Hidden Tipperary ‘Castles’ – Farney Castle.)
The group then entered into private discussions, where a number of possible tourism issues were debated in depth and targeted. Details of all progress recorded regarding these ventures will be made publicly known in the coming weeks and months, as plans are finalised.
Before closing the meeting it was unanimous agreed that the group should meet again next month to report on progress. A date was set to hold the next meeting at Farney Castle at 11:00 am on Tuesday morning, February 4th next, in keeping with the already agreed principal that by the group meeting in each other’s facilities, they would better learn the range and variety of visitor attractions within the Hidden Tipperary representative group.