It's time to raise a glass - or three - Killarney is set to see its third whiskey distillery developed.
An Bord Pleanála has paved the way for a new whiskey distillery in the parish of Fossa, just outside Killarney. The three distilleries are within a stone's throw of each other, with the Kerry town making a name for itself as a whiskey producer.
It is part of a burgeoning drinks production scene in the county.
The woodland distillery in an old coach house, part of the historic Aghadoe House, will join a growing number of distilleries and craft beer breweries and visitor centres in Kerry, from Dingle to Kenmare to Cahersiveen.
The new craft distillery at Aghadoe will be set in the midst of preserved broadleaf woodland in an old coach house building just north of the historic Aghadoe House, now an An Óige Youth Hostel.
The early 19th century coach house is in an extremely derelict condition, without a roof or any remaining timbers. Under the distillery plan, it is to be conserved and re-roofed by Killarney Distillers Ltd. A new canopy will form an entrance space and buildings within the courtyard will house a café, restaurant bar and retail space.
Kerry County Council had initially approved the decision but it was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by Michael Horgan on behalf of Lakes and Rivers of Kerry, saying the site was not suitable for such a large commercial project and the proper place for it was in an industrial building close to Killarney.
In addition, fears were raised about the "destruction of habitat and the effects on wildlife" during construction, though the applicant said "woodland management and conservation" are part of the development.
The lakeside village of Fossa is earmarked for tourism projects, under the local development plan, and the new distillery is not on an industrial scale, but on a craft scale, its promoters argued.
In granting permission, An Bord Pleanála laid out a number of conditions, including a specific instruction to ensure there is "a comprehensive scheme of landscaping" and the developer has been told to ensure trees are "retained and protected".
A short distance away, construction work on a €24m craft beer brewery, whiskey distillery and visitor centre is well underway by the Killarney Brewing Company at Killalee on the main Ring of Kerry road in Fossa. That complex in the old Rosenbluth factory is to include a large restaurant.
A third distillery, this time in the seat of the O’Connell family in the townland of Lakeview, on the shores of Lough Lein, has already begun producing its first whiskey - 'The Liberator' - in a 300-year-old building.
The whiskey is named after the O’Connell’s illustrious ancestor Daniel O’Connell. The facilities there include a bonded warehouse and Sir Maurice O’Connell, who is the director of the company Wayward Spirits, said the plans are also for a visitor centre at Lakeview.
Meanwhile, Kenmare already has the Tom Crean ale brewery and both Dingle and Cahersiveen have distilleries.
Killarney once had a reputation for fine mineral waters and beers and the current developments are a revitalisation of an industry which went in to decline over the past seven decades or so, various company representatives have pointed out.