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Mayor of Kilkenny describes Diageo’s decision to close Smithwick’s Experience as ‘Cold and clinical’

John Coonan says it's shocking

The decision to close Kilkenny’s Smithwick’s Experience has been slammed as “cold and clinical” by the City’s Mayor.

It was announced yesterday that Diageo will not be re-opening the popular tourist attraction, which has been shut since March 2020 due to Covid restrictions. (More here).

The company claim “it is impossible for them to adapt the experience for it to be a viable business and experience going forward”.

But Mayor John Coonan says that reasoning’s not good enough telling KCLR News “Absolutely devastated to learn of this very disappointing news by phonecall, to learn of the closing down of the Smithwicks Experience by Diageo and I was surprised considering the 300-year history of this experience here in Kilkenny that no effort was made by Diageo I suppose to consult the local authority to make, what I would consider, a cold and clinical decision”.

Diageo says they’re looking at “a range of options for the long-term sustainable future of the building; to support Kilkenny’s vibrant creative culture and growth economically and socially.”

And Mayor Coonan says it’s vital that Diageo work with the local authority on this, noting “I would consider it imperative that consultation would commence between Diageo and our local authority and that was to enable us an opportunity to consider all possible options for the continuation of this invaluable experience that would have to be maintained, I mean it’s part of our heritage, our culture, our history, some of the Smithwick’s family are still residing in Kilkenny City as well”.

Kilkenny’s First Citizen also says news of the closure was especially shocking, against the sense of hope around tourism in the Taoiseach’s address yesterday. He said “It seemed to be contrary to the decision that was made by Government to open up that sort of experience and open up tourism and as you know Kilkenny depends very heavily on tourism and is very successful with its tourism and heritage and experience and the visitor attraction that we are and Smithwick’s is most certainly part of that attraction, centrally part of that attraction”.