AMBITIOUS plans have been formulated to transform Louisburgh into a Mecca for visitors, writes Tom Gillespie.
All of the tourism activities in the area are being brought together to promote the plan, particularly in the off-season.
Behind the drive is Tipperary native and accountant, Gerard Ryan, of Positive Event Management, and now a resident of Cahir, Louisburgh.
He hopes to target mature hens and stags, weddings, retirement and corporate parties as well as Christmas and new year functions to avail of the bespoke list of services operating out of Louisburgh.
Gerard (50) has met with all of the providers in the town and their first foray will be a series of musical events, commencing on May 5 in the Derrylahan Hotel in the town.
Louisburgh was originally a planned town, constructed in 1795 by the 3rd Earl of Altamont, John Denis Browne of Westport. Browne built the town to house Catholic refugees fleeing sectarian conflict in the north of Ireland.
He named the town in memory of his uncle – Captain Henry Browne – who fought in the 1758 battle of Louisburg, on the northeast coast of Nova Scotia, in the British side against the French. After the British victory his uncle became a captain in the newly formed Louisburg regiment.
Gerard Ryan set up Positive Event Management just before Christmas and the company was officially launched the weekend before last in the Derrylahan Hotel. The company logo is ‘We take our fun seriously’.
Over the last 30 years, separate from his accountancy work, Gerard undertook event management for charities in the Dublin area.
He told me: "I made my mind up coming up to my 50th birthday that I should make a business of this. I am good friends with Peter Kerrigan and Rita O’Brien of Wild Atlantic Leisure in Louisburgh. I have been coming down to them for both pleasure and business for a couple of years.
"I decided to leave Dublin, come down here and bring my Dublin clients with me and work over Peter and Rita’s office while also doing some work for them. They want to run a few festivals this year.
"It was a perfect match for me. I am down here nine weeks now and it feels like one day. The welcome has been brilliant. The people here are very humble, very welcoming."
Gerard said the former Dublin manager, Tommy Lyons, of the Derrylahan has been a great help.
He continued: "I am a big music head. We started looking into all the activities in Louisburgh. It is like a canvas. There are all these activities not joined together. There are restaurants, pubs, post office, two schools, Croagh Patrick, the Lost Valley, eight magnificent beaches, the hotel, the Grainne Uaile Museum, the wellness practitioners and the 10 holiday cottages. A lot of these are not used in the off-season. I said we could bring clubs, retirement groups and corporates here and have a bespoke list of services available to them.
"You have lots of people getting married for the second or third time in their 50s and 60s and they don’t want a big show, just something unique, and we can give that.
"If you want to do shopping in Louisburgh for clothes, jewellery and shoes you are in the wrong place. But you can go out here and have something very intimate in an amazing scenic area. If you want to do something for a milestone event we can arrange it."
Gerard’s first musical gig in the Derrylahan will be the Queen tribute band, Flash Harry, on May 5, which coincides with a marathon in the town.
He admitted: "I will be promoting the marathon and the marathon organisers will promote my gig. If I was doing Flash Harry on my own it won’t work. You need a hook-in.
"I will have the Johnny Cash tribute band on June 21. I am going to market this as an end-of-school outing - School is out for Summer - but for teachers.
"The Leaving Cert exams are finished that day. The secondary school teachers are finished at the end of May, and the primary schools will be finished a week afterwards.
"If we can get a number of schools to come we will organise transport. Within an hour’s radius of Louisburgh there are 1,000 teachers. In Louisburgh alone there are 40 teachers.
"On July 13 we have the Fleetwood Mac tribute band and a week later we hope to have a Wild Atlantic Leisure community festival, ending with the Carrowmore horse jumping event.
"I am going to video all those events so at the end of the summer I can go to the big businesses like Allergan and Baxter to promote an Abba night out package at Christmas which I have dubbed SIN - Service Industry Nights."
He added: "Louisburgh is an amazing platform. The only thing I am missing now, and I am working on it, is the transport. I will solve that too.
"I want to build this business. I am in this for the long haul. I have met some great people in Louisburgh. Louisburgh is going to be my platform and from there I hope to expand out. For example, you have St. Stephen’s night and New Year’s Eve night and there is nothing on here in Louisburgh. If we could have a new year’s ball I believe we would fill the pace.
"People think of Westport and they don’t think of Louisburgh. We want to change that. If there are enough good things here in Louisburgh people will stop here."
Do you have a story to tell about your business? If so, Tom Gillespie would be delighted to hear from you. Get in touch at (087) 9680780 or firstname.lastname@example.org.