Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,
Cork Independent, 5 October 2023
Recasting Cork: Forming the Munster Tourist Development Association
On 4 October 1923 the second meeting of the Executive Committee of the Munster Tourist Development Association was held at the Cork Chamber of Commerce, Victoria Hotel. Mr John Callaghan Foley, President of the Chamber presided, and there were representatives from Irish and British railway as well as from the City of Cork Steam Packet Company and the White Star Line, and the United States Lines. The Munster Association had been successfully launched and as 95 per cent of tourists coming into Ireland were landing at Cobh, there were opportunities to be developed in the southern region.
Since the first meeting letters were received from prominent men in districts all over Munster and from Dublin, approving of the objects of the Association and promising the movement every possible support.
John Callaghan Foley, Chairman, said he could only reiterate the statement he made at the meeting, that they were getting promises of support from every quarter of Munster. John detailed the letters they were receiving that the people of Munster. He noted; “The people had shown their interest, not only by becoming members, but by offering subscriptions and helping in every way. That was very encouraging, but it was only as it should be. If the matter were properly worked, there were boundless possibilities of good for the country”.
Mr D P Buckley was elected Honorary Treasurer and the Munster and Leinster Bank was appointed the hank of the Association.
Mr Canavan of the United States Lines raised that he had been in Dublin and Limerick since the previous meeting. He wished to raise whether their Association was to be a strictly provincial association. He noted that that was a very important point to consider; “The fullest results of the development of tourist traffic in Ireland could not be believed, be successfully obtained by confining themselves to a single province”. He believed an old Association in Dublin, which was less active at that moment, had a considerable amount of funds and that they should be approached to see if they would give some funding to a southern venture.
The Chairman said that they in County Cork were at the gateway of the tourist traffic. He believed that the Association was going to be a very positive endeavour to get the tourists to come through Cork. They were quite prepared to co-operate in every way with any kindred Association for the benefit of the nation as a whole. They aimed to influence local public bodies to strike a rate, as they were entitled to do, for the purpose of advertising their own districts. This would help the work of the Association very much.
Mr D P Buckley outlined that most of the tourists who came through Cobh would, after visiting Southern scenic spots, proceed to Dublin and Belfast, and that there was not, in his opinion, any reason why such cities should not bear portion of the expense of advertising and the narrative. The Chairman, John Callaghan Foley, said undoubtedly the question was a national one, and he believed that they should receive the support of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
Two weeks later on 13 October 1923, the discussion revolved around the request to be made to the Military Authorities that hotels occupied by the military should be handed over as soon as possible so that preparations might be made for the reception of tourists during the coming season. In that light a letter was read from the office of Chief of General Staff, General Headquarters, Dublin.
The Chief desired that the Army Authorities to have all hotels at present in occupation, evacuated at the earliest opportunity, both from the point of view of “army economy and public interest”. The letter detailed that owing to the lack of accommodation in parts of the country particularly the South, it was necessary to occupy hotel buildings in many places. The Chief had enquired personally into the conditions affecting the troops occupation of hotels in Kerry and wished for their transfer to other alternative accommodation.
The secretary D P Buckley detailed that the condition of the roads and bridges were also a disgrace, both to the county councils and county surveyors. He noted his surprise that there were not many more accidents and that there were many bridges, damaged by the Civil War, which were in poor condition, and some were worse than others.
Mr Buckley was also of the view that the hotel charges too, were altogether too high, and if their proprietors expected to benefit by tourist traffic, they should be prepared to be far more reasonable in their tariffs. Mr Buckley was reminded that in County Cork, the dangerous bridges were marked by a red flag, but there were no warning signals in Kerry Mr. Buckley said they had neither signposts nor danger signals. At the suggestion of the meeting participants, it was decided to communicate with the Council of the County of Kerry, drawing attention to the necessity of having the bridges repaired, and, in the meantime, to have warning signals put up on dangerous places.
As the autumn of 1923, further lobbying ensued to improve roads as well in West Cork in the areas of Castletownbere and Glengarriff to Kenmare through the Caha Pass route and into areas such as Gougane Barra.
1222a. Tourist coach at Cronin’s Hotel, Gougane Barra, c.1920 (source: West Cork Through Time by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen).