Francis Brennan of the popular RTE series At Your Service will be in Curraghchase Forest Park this Sunday for the official launch of the reopened camping and caravan park there.
The launch will be filmed by a TV crew for an episode to be broadcast early next year.
New owner Warren Higgins has been working with Francis and John Brennan over the summer to develop an attractive package for visitors to the park.
He says that since they opened at the end of July, business has been better than expected, with plenty of campers from Limerick, as well as further afield.
“We got great feedback from a group of Germans who stayed with us recently,” he said.
In addition to the campsite, there is also a cafe on the site which will be open at weekends throughout the winter. It is named the deVere cafe after the family which formerly owned the land, and whose mansion still stands on the grounds.
Warren believes Curraghchase is a “great asset” for the county, given its attractive setting and unique history.
Since 2008, Coillte has spent €400,000 in the park upgrading car parking and toilet facilities, providing new trails for cycling and walking, signage and barbecue areas. Following the damage done by Storm Darwin in January 2014, a huge clean-up operation has taken place with the majority of paths now reopened.
Sunday’s launch will get under way at 1pm. Coillte have agreed to raise by barrier to the car park for the afternoon, so there will be no charge for entry. A free shuttle bus will run from the car park to the cafe. “We will have live music, a barbecue, bouncy castles, face painting, vintage displays, archery and a number of local food producers displaying their products. The TV crew will be filming throughout the day with an official launch by Francis Brennan between 2-3pm,” said Warren.
Prior to the launch, there will be a coffee morning in aid of Enable Ireland starting at 11am.
Meanwhile, local councillor Emmett O’Brien has called on Coillte to hold a public information evening to outline its vision for the park over the next five years.
Speaking at this month’s meeting of the Adare Rathkeale municipal district, the independent councillor said Curraghchase had been “undervalued and underpromoted for the last few years. This is a fantastic tourist facility,” he added. “I think Limerick City and County Council should take the lead in this in conjunction with Coillte and promote it as a major attraction.”
However, there was some criticism of the €5 charge for entry to the car park, with Fianna Fail’s Kevin Sheahan warning that this was deterring people from using the car park and instead parking on the public road.
Coillte has replied that the parking fee of €5 goes towards this “essential maintenance” of the forest recreation amenities.
However, a spokesperson pointed out that an annual access card is available for €40, which allows people to access all of Coillte’s forest parks. It is available at www.coillteoutdoors.ie.