A planning application has been lodged with Killarney Town Council to build a two-storey museum, with parking facilities for cars and coaches, at the town’s Fitzgerald Stadium.
The neighbouring towns had engaged in a war of words in their claims as likely locations for the county’s major new sporting and cultural museum.
But the fact that Killarney attracts a large number of visitors was a key factor in determination the location.
Fitzgerald Stadium, which opened in 1936 and which can accommodate more than 40,000 spectators, is also one of the country’s leading GAA grounds.
The planning application, in the name of Kerry Gaelic Culture Museum Ltd, is for a 1,350 sq metre building to be erected on an under-used training field on the eastern side of the main pitch.
Work will also involve the demolition of toilets, some of the boundary walls on the northern side, and all of the existing boundary walls, gates and entrances on the eastern side of the stadium.
A decision on the planning application is expected on February 11 next and the aim is to have the construction completed in 2013, depending on funding being available from tourism bodies and the GAA.
Michael Gleeson, a spokesman for Kerry Gaelic Culture Museum Ltd and the man who first mooted the idea, yesterday said the museum would not be solely about sport but would also reflect the richness of Kerry’s cultural, linguistic and literary traditions.
“We’re a totally independent committee but Kerry County GAA Board and the Fitzgerald Stadium Committee are extremely supportive,” he said. “We’re also hopeful Fáilte Ireland will see the merit of what should be a great tourism project.
“Upwards of 1.5 million visitors come to Killarney each year and if 10% of those people visited the museum it would be self-financing,” he suggested.
“This proposal will not be a drain on any statutory body. The plan is that it will be self-financing and any profits will be reinvested in the museum.”
Cllr Gleeson, winner of two All-Ireland football medals with Kerry, along with other members of the committee have already met Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Minister Jimmy Deenihan — an All-Ireland winning Kerry captain — in relation to the proposed project.
It is intended to display GAA memorabilia, including cups, trophies, medals, jerseys, photographs, match programmes and other historical documents and audio-video footage from major games and GAA events.
It is also envisaged that exhibitions would be mounted occasionally.