Shockwaves have been continuing across Kilkenny with a devastated reaction to the news that the city’s second most popular tourist attraction is shutting for good.
20 local workers are set to lose their jobs after Diageo decided the Smithwicks Experience is no longer viable. (Read more here).
But Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan says the numbers of visitors have never met the company’s targets and says this closure presents a massive problem for Kilkenny Tourism because it was a key part of the medieval mile package, telling KCLR Live “The bigger challenge for Kilkenny as we emerge out of the restrictions and look towards our tourism I think it’s going to be challenging, I think the figures really for the visitor experience really dint get to where they’d expected them to, up to late 2019 there were around 60,000 visitors, which is very good, but I think the target had been around 100,000.”
Representatives of a number of bodies, including the council and chamber, are set to unite to see if there’s a way to reverse the decision.
Diageo’s let Kilkenny down according to Kilkennyman Donie Butler who says “I think Diageo are failing in their duty to continue the heritage and the association of Smithwicks Brewery with the people of Kilkenny and just as importantly the whole tourism value of Kilkenny and tourism experience of Kilkenny”.
Paul Smithwick’s family no longer have anything to do with the experience but he’s told KCLR he’s disappointed with what he says is a bad decision made in reaction to the pandemic, noting “My own personal view is that they’ve made a bad mistake, the visitor centre played an extremely important role, the employees who I found absolutely fantastic, the role that they played was huge”.
Listen back to that and more here:
Earlier too we heard from Kilkenny Mayor John Coonan – see what he had to say here – while Cathaoirleach of the County Council, Andrew McGuinness told KCLR “It’s deeply upsetting, it’s a sad day for Kilkenny, it’s a huge part of our history here locally in terms of that site and it’s a shame that it looks like we’re going to lose it and there’s also the loss of employment as well and those families will be equally as shocked as well”.
The issue too arose as part of The Panel discussion on KCLR Live – listen back to that here:
Meanwhile, there were two other city closures confirmed today – more on that here.