While kissing the Blarney Stone promises the gift of the gab, there will be no more words of advice coming from the village’s tourism office after it shut its doors for the last time on Friday.
Blarney & District Chamber of Commerce has announced that the office, near the village square, has closed, having been run for years on goodwill.
In a statement, the chamber said the closure is a “great loss to the village”.
“All good things come to an end and it’s sad to see Blarney Tourist Office close its doors,” read the statement on Facebook.
“Bord Fáilte officially closed the office more than six years ago, and since it was reopened by John Henchion and Kate Durrant of Blarney Chamber of Commerce, it had been run by the goodwill and outstanding volunteerism of Mary Twohig, in the lovely premises kindly given by Blarney Woollen Mills.”
Ms Durrant said the closure of the office pointed to a wider strategy by Failte Ireland that focuses its resources on “super offices” in larger centres, and that the community came together to keep the Blarney offering going for the past six years.
“We were allowed to continue to run it under licence, and Freda Hayes at Blarney Woolen Mills let us have the unit for a peppercorn rent, all for the good of the community,” said Ms Durrant. :It was kept going thanks to the work of Mary Twohig, who went in every day for six years and managed students or workers we got through community employment schemes to keep it going. It was through using government initiatives, and the involvement of people like PJ Lynch and Deirdre Healy, that the office was able to stay open for so long.”
Ms Durrant said the area attracts 400,000 visitors a year.
“We were not looking for handouts, there is a great community spirit here, but sometimes it is very hard to be allowed to do things. There’s little or no joined-up thinking at all.”
Fáilte Ireland said it is unlikely to review its decision to close the Blarney office. A spokesman said Fáilte Ireland engaged in consolidation focusing on ‘gateway locations’ to provide a better return on investment, and that the evolution of digital technology has seen demand on its services fall.
Fáilte Ireland said it does not see any change in that environment in the foreseeable future given the ongoing development in smartphone technology, but that it does support community and information points.