My Limerick with IHF president and local hotelier Elaina Fitzgerald

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Email:

david.hurley@limerickleader.ie

My Limerick with IHF president and local hotelier Elaina Fitzgerald

What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, in Limerick?

My Perfect Day starts with breakfast in the Riverside in Croom. My three boys love the playground there and we often enjoy a stroll after against the soothing backdrop of the river Maigue. Adare also offers some fabulous breakfast experiences ( I couldn’t pick one over the others!). Adare also has an amazing playground and some beautiful walks such as through the village, the riverbank or doing laps in the Manor Fields. I love meeting people when we are out strolling and the chats with my boys who have so many questions! The younger two love exploring so inevitably we are bird spotting or animal spotting and gathering twigs as we go! From there, we love the Milkmarket in Limerick city – the buzz, the flavours, the friendliness and its authenticity. We are so lucky to have it on our doorstep. With the makings of a picnic, Curraghchase Forest Park offers so much as does Knockfierna on a fine day. With three boys who all play sport, inevitably there can be a host of matches across all sports and I love being outdoors and watching the agony and joy of the teams. Every match is like an All Ireland – full of passion! After all the going, we love dining as a family and we are blessed to have some many great options in Adare. We also love to cook at home using some of the organic produce from our own garden in the grounds of our hotel. There is nothing to beat the taste of our own organics.  We occasionally like a tipple in our local pubs but also love the novelty of feet up at home with a good old cup of scald!  

What’s your first Limerick memory?

Going to Curraghchase. My siblings and I couldn’t wait for Sundays when after lunch service, we would hit off to Curraghchase with our parents and grandparents. We loved walking around the loop, exploring the trails, going to the playground and feeding the swans even though truth be told, we were afraid of our lives of them. The sense of freedom was amazing. With imaginations running wild, we were everything from superheroes to shark hunters to animal rescuers. There were epic games of hide and go seek. When we were good, we were taken to Nolan’s shop on the way home for bags of penny sweets. One of this, two of those -  we must have been tormenting.

What’s your favourite part of the county and why?

I am totally biased as I am born and raised in Adare. I love its quaintness and intimacy. I love that everything is nicely contained and easily accessible. I love its sense of history and natural beauty. I love our fabulous shopping vibe and the amazing restaurants and cafes that we have. However, most of all, I love our community spirit. We have some super people leading by example across so many clubs and organisations from the Men’s Shed to the Red Cross to the Tidy Towns to the local GAA club to our local soccer club, among others. So many people are so giving of their time. Having lived overseas, I absolutely appreciate how lucky I am to live in Adare. I also love the fabulous mix of locals like myself who are part of the fabric of Adare and the great dynamism of the many who have made Adare their home.  We also have some great schools for families looking to settle here.

What do you think gives Limerick its unique identity?

History, sport, music, art, culture, rich landscape, community and its people. We are proud. We are hardworking. I also love how our food community has developed both in terms of local producers and dining concepts! Again, the Milk Market is a wonderful celebration of the food culture in our county.

How would you describe the people of Limerick?

Energetic, ambitious, proud, hardworking, appreciative, sporty, culturally rich and full of enthusiasm. My mother is a Ryan – the Ryan family motto in her eyes is ‘Die Rather than Surrender’. We are resilient people. We are passionate people.

How important do you think sport is to Limerick?

Hugely important. On a scale of 1  to 10 – I would give it a 20! And moreover with the #20x20 Sporting Initiative. Sport is part of our DNA for many and most children in our county have a huge opportunity to get involved in sport from a very young age which gives immeasurable benefits from a fitness and social perspective. We are blessed to have so many ‘laochra’ and legends in sport in our county. We equally have household names who did not get the opportunity to enjoy the highest platforms to play nor the accolades that they deserved. We have everything from walking, hiking, running, biking, hockey, water sports, rugby, soccer, tennis, golf  and so many more. GAA is my number one passion and I love both hurling and football. 2018 was the summer of our lives – unforgettable in so many ways  - so many sporting dreams and emotions were realised. Focussing back on 2020, it is so energising to see all of our county teams doing so well. I also love seeing success in clubs – it is not just in the winning but the way that communities come together and are uplifted by being involved. The athletes and mentors and support teams involved put so much effort in and think of the enjoyment that we get from it. It inspires so many. I am especially proud of the Limerick Ladies Football and Camogie panels who we as a hotel are so delighted to sponsor and of course not forgetting, my super sporty cousin and joint captain of Limerick’s Camogie team, Caoimhe Costelloe who like her fellow panel members leads by example both on and off the pitch.   

What’s the biggest challenge facing the city/county today?


From a business perspective, in general we are extremely challenged by the high cost of doing business. The introduction of a higher VAT Rate on food has had a huge impact on hotels, restaurants &cafes and effectively has closed many restaurants. There are 27 countries in Europe with a lower tax rate than us for food. However, this isn’t just about Europe, it costs you the customer 50% more from a VAT perspective and you are getting no tangible additional benefit from it. Rates are also an issue and the insurance industry is at a crisis point and needs to be tackled immediately. Shannon Airport as a gateway needs more support from the government from an aviation policy perspective. At an immediate level, Covid-19 is our most serious concern against the backdrop of the above. Containment is key and we all have our part to play in this.

Another challenge is the lack of available housing in Adare. In our local community, it can be difficult for people originally from the village to relocate back. These people have a lot to give to our community. Equally, as an employer, it can be difficult to secure homes for prospective team members.

 There is also a huge opportunity to revitalise Limerick’s city centre both daytime and at night. It is refreshing to see Limerick.ie’s new brand and we look forward to seeing the benefits of its implementation.