Blarney Castle owner bans St Patrick’s market

The owner of Blarney Castle is standing over his decision to pull the plug on a key element of the Cork village’s St Patrick’s Day festival.

Charles Colthurst said he was acting on the advice of his insurance broker by refusing to allow the village green — which has been in his family’s ownership since the 18th century — to host a farmer’s and craft market.

“This is a no-brainer. It’s a black and white issue,” he said. “If the insurance is in order, then the event goes ahead. If the insurance is not in order, then the event is not OK. This is not Charles Colthurst making the decision. This is the advice from my insurance broker.”

Kevin Conway, chairman of parade organisers Blarney Community Council, said he was shocked.

“This came out of the blue at the 11th hour... When people abroad think of Ireland, they often think of Blarney. Now we have the centrepiece of the village that can’t be used.”

It prompted calls last night for Cork County Council to issue a compulsory purchase order and acquire the square. Blarney-born city councillor Kenneth O’Flynn said: “This will take the burden off the Colthurst family in terms of regulating these activities and ensuring that the people of Blarney are able to enjoy this important amenity.” He plans to raise the issue at the next joint meeting of the city and county councils.

The community council resurrected the parade three years ago after a 21-year absence. It included a farmer’s market on the green. Such was its success, the council organised several other family events on the green in recent years.

Mr Colthurst said those events were staged at his discretion. He said some minor insurance issues were raised but were ironed out by changes to the community council’s insurance policy.

He said that, as far as he and his brokers were concerned, everything was in order for the weekend.

The market stall holders were also indemnifying Mr Colthurst to the tune of €6.5m, he said.

However, in recent weeks, Mr Colthurst asked for the insurance details of each stall holder, and pulled the plug on the event on Tuesday.

He said insurance details were presented to him in piecemeal fashion and said the advice from his broker was that the insurance cover was not adequate. There were issues public liability, product liability, and employer’s liability cover.

“The advice was the ball falls at my feet if there is an injury, or if a young child has an accident in the bouncy castle. I could have been personally liable,” he said.

Mr Conway said they got a five-page email from Mr Cothurst on Tuesday outlining the insurance issues.

“You’d want to be a high court judge or a senior counsel to figure it out.”

Blarney GAA club has stepped in to host the event. The farmer’s market and animal roadshow events will get under way on the GAA grounds at 11am.

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