Brexit means “Business as usual” for Donegal Tourism

Earlier in the week, I ventured out West to Gweedore in County Donegal with a few journalists/bloggers to visit the town and see some of the local sights.

Yet one issue that was on my mind was Brexit. We have heard many business leaders North and South give their views over the past year about the UK leaving the European Union & the possible economic consequences for many industries locally, particularly tourism.

Gweedore is less than 50 miles from the border and punters from Northern Ireland are important for the local economy, so I sat down with Michael McBride, the Consultant/Director of the local Gweedore Court Hotel to get his views on Brexit both the challenges and the opportunities.

I began by asking him about was he worried about any potential damage that Brexit could cause. In a fairly confidence manner, Michael told me that he is “not as concerned as other people” so long as businesses remain approachable, people will still come to places like Gweedore and that he remains “very optimistic” about the future.

I was fascinated to know, what gave him this optimism despite some sections of the business community in Southern Ireland raising concerns. He believes that the strength of London as a financial centre will help places like Northern Ireland; moreover, he has heard positive comments from some of his business colleagues within the UK about the future direction as the country prepares to exit the European Union.

McBride acknowledges that Northern Ireland and Scotland are two of his biggest markets but fundamentally it is “business as usual” for him as he told me the key thing is having a plan and a strategy to overcome certain challenges. He told me that it is fundamentally little has changed in terms of the type of people they are targeting and the synergies between what places like Donegal are offering to visitors from places like Northern Ireland.

I wanted to know what advice he would give to other businesses in the border region who are concerned about the impact that Brexit could have on economic stability. Michael comes back to the issue again of structure and planning saying it is important for businesses to have a short, medium and long-term plan for their businesses.

As I asked him about the rapid improvement in the Irish economy over the last two-three years, we eventually went back to Brexit as he told me that like the recession years, things will not always be easy, but places like Donegal & Northern Ireland will have to “work harder than anybody else.” Citing examples such as the success of the Wild Atlantic Way, which took years to develop he, remains very optimistic for the future.

 

 

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  • ted hagan

    Sounds like a jounalists’ ‘freebie’ to me!

  • Roger

    Here we go again with some place called Southern Ireland…apparently including Donegal.

  • file

    If you can tell me where the ‘town’ of Gaoth Dobhair is David, I would be interested to know :):)

  • Nevin

    Don’t be cheeky!

    Although the scenery is wild and windswept, large parts of the coastal area have been overrun by holiday homes. Consequently, the ‘villages’ of Derrybeg (Doirí Beaga) and Bunbeg (Bun Beag) virtually blend into each other along the R257, and the sprawl continues north to the spectacular headland of Bloody Foreland (named for the crimson colour of the rocks at sunset). .. source

  • john millar

    If you think that`s bad take a trip to Downings and around Rosguill
    desecration in every view.

  • Len Brennan

    Gaoth Dobhair isn’t a town.

    Overall, this is a very poorly crafted piece.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Donegal should do well out of tourism, many people in the west of Northern Ireland will be looking for a sane break from the nonsense they see getting imported from Westminster.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Technically it’s a “baile fearainn” isn’t it?

  • ted hagan

    I must say areas like the Antrim Coast Road have stricter planning laws and are therefore better preserved. The Republic allowed developers to run riot, often with the help of corrupt councillors. A real shame.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Unionists couldn’t go to Donegal, it is full of Irish language signs, which are an insult.

  • Fear Éireannach

    After Brexit they will be importing things from Donegal: pasta, red wine, Wurst….

  • Nevin

    Apparently not, Kevin, its in the townland of Meenderrygamph.. Mín Doire Dhamh

  • Nevin

    ted, concerned residents also played their part – whenever councillors were asleep at their posts or planning officers and/or government ministers lacked the backbone to withstand pressure from vested interests.

  • Nevin

    FÉ, caravaners and second-home owners from the likes of Ballymoney and Coleraine often spent a summer fortnight in places like Dunfanaghy and Downings; some were discouraged by arson attacks there back in the day.

  • Nevin

    You should get out more – and widen your reading material beyond An Phoblacht!!!

  • Nevin

    ted, I met David in an ice-cream emporium in Bushmills a few years back. The three of us were so engrossed in the crack that Ivor had to point out that he was expected to pay for his poke – of McGroogan’s best!

  • Nevin

    “Brexit means ‘Business as usual’ for Donegal Tourism”

    FF’s Michéal Martin takes a much less optimistic view of the fate of the Irish state, including Donegal:

    Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Mr Martin said there was no positive outcome possible to the negotiations. Whatever emerged, he said, would be bad for Ireland, bad for Europe “and, quite frankly, bad for world”.

    Through the course of the debate on Brexit, he added, the Taoiseach had given no detail on whether Ireland was seeking any changes to the draft text circulated on March 31.

    Tourism promoters and beneficiaries will, quite naturally, talk-up their prospects. Let’s hope that Michéal’s ‘doom and gloom’ doesn’t prevail.

  • George

    Martin says Brexit will be bad for Ireland, Europe and indeed the world. He doesn’t go so far as to question “the fate of the Irish state”. Dublin, the engine of the Irish economy (47% of GDP and 55% of tax), will continue and maybe even benefit (who knows) while, by contrast, rural Ireland and the border area look badly exposed.

    I think he is right when he says there is “no positive outcome” if, as I understand it, he means in comparison to where we are now.

    But it’s wishful thinking to suggest “special status” is possible for Northern Ireland. “Flexible and creative solutions” hoped for by Tusk will have to be within the framework of the EU’s rules. It’s up to Ireland and the UK to come up with these prospective solutions.

    That said, I don’t blame Martin for trying to push the EU as much as possible to reduce the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland and the Irish state by flagging the possibility of dire consequences. It’s not in Ireland’s interest to imply things are going to be grand.

  • Nevin

    George, he’s saying quite clearly that, in his opinion, Brexit will be bad for the Irish state.

  • George

    He says bad for everyone, including the Irish state. My post doesn’t say it won’t be bad either. It’s just that one interpretation of your use of the phrase “fate of the Irish state” is that this is an existential crisis.

    I don’t think it is, either for Ireland or the UK. There are going to be huge changes for both countries. The question how big an impact Brexit has will be answered by seeing how well both economies adapt.

    For example, the days of Irish companies happily making things like cheddar (and little else) and reaping the benefits of being beside a huge market like the UK are over.

    We don’t even mill our own flour anymore, it all comes from the UK. This will have to change and companies are already looking at France. Either that or milling will return. The main revenue industries such as IT, pharma and services will likely continue as previously.

    Meanwhile, the UK, if it is outside the EAA as seems likely, will have to create its own niche alongside other European countries like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Stans. I think the UK will have to adapt more.

  • file

    I know where it is, Nevin, but it is a parish, not a town.

  • lizmcneill

    Let’s aspire to be like Belarus…sounds great, right Brexiteers?

  • Fear Éireannach

    “special status” is perfectly possible for Northern Ireland as far as the EU is concerned, the obstacle is London and the local obstructionists.

  • Old Mortality

    Sadly, it’s the exception. The whole of rural Ireland is extremely disfigured by residential development that is unrestrained in both quantity and quality. It’s not developers who are responsible for this but individual voters. It’s largely absent in rural England or Scotland, even in areas that are not considered particularly scenic.

  • Old Mortality

    NI is the least of the RoI’s worries about Brexit.However, Martin is losing the run of himself by suggesting it’s bad for the world.

  • ted hagan

    Much land in rural Ireland was rezoned by councillors for residential building. This system has been wide open to corruption.

  • Nevin

    … and also a sub-denomination in a townland, file.

  • file

    Is it indeed? What townland would that be? Mín an Chladaigh, Aird na gCeapairí, Cnoc Fola, Bun an Inbhir, Bun Beag srl srl are ALL in Gaoth Dobhair … so of whihc townland is Gaoth Dobhair a smaller part?

  • Nevin

    file, I posted it on the thread yesterday – with links: Meenderrygamph.. Mín Doire Dhamh

  • file

    Mín Doire Dhamh is a townland WITHIN Gaoth Dobhair. Gaoth Dobhair is the unit; the others on this list are subdivision. It is not a town nor a townland; it is a parish. see here
    http://www.bealoideas.com/logainm/mindoiredhamh.htm

  • Nevin

    My apologies if I got that wrong, file. I’ve had a closer look at the townlands dot ie site and also the Griffith’s Valuation map circa 1860. It’s quite possible that George Hill’s Gweedore Hotel in Meenderrygamph has been mislabelled as a sub-denomination of the townland in the townlands site.

  • file

    Look Nevin, no biggie … and my original comment was just a wee jibe at yer man David. And also from memories of tourists in cars asking me how to get to Gaoth Dobhair when they were in it, and had been for the last 20 mins of driving. Is that the hotel on the same site as the newish hotel?

  • Nevin

    I had a wee jibe at your wee jibe!

    Save up and give yourself a treat: history of the Gweedore Court Hotel.

    You might also like to have a look at the speculation in the scanned records.

    Back in the 70s, long before I took an interest in place name study, I was hitch-hiking around Donegal. A young woman stopped her car and asked where I was going to. I said “Ar’dara”; she said, “You’re not from here, are you?”! I also got a lift from a Scotsman who was practising for the Donegal rally – a bit scary at first but I soon got used to hurtling along narrow twisty country roads. I also stayed overnight with a family on the road down to Teelin. The driver who stopped on that road recognised me from a concert I’d ‘directed’ at Corrymeela; he was from the East Belfast Friendship group. Life in the Gweedore House Hotel would be very dull, by comparison!