A large number of Turasóireacht Acla Teo members attended its annual general meeting on Friday September 16, in Ted Lavelle’s, Cashel. Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, was the guest of honour and Councillor Austin Francis O’Malley, Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, addressed the meeting before agreeing to preside over the election of officers.
There was a new and welcome level of interest among the membership in joining the company’s management committee. In fact the number of members nominated for election exceeded, perhaps for the first time in the organisation’s history, the number of places available. Cathaoirleach O’Malley found himself presiding over a proper election, and local councillors Mícheál McNamara and Michael Holmes were pressed into duty to count the votes. Though it was most unfortunate that a few nominees, some of whom had previously served the company with distinction, were eliminated after the count, there was a feeling in the room that a new energy was making itself felt that could only be good for Achill Tourism.
Minister Ring was delighted with the level of interest and the drama of the election, and he complimented the organisation on its success. He hoped that Achill would derive significant benefit from the new Great Western Greenway and the weekly Lufthansa flights from Dusseldorf to Knock due to commence in 2012. He reminded the members of the importance of the British market to Ireland, and encouraged Achill Tourism to tap into it.
Members asked the Minister if public transport could be improved in Achill, and he said he sees routes being opened up to private transport providers. Cllr McNamara wondered if finance could be made available for a small project to stabilise a few of the Deserted Village houses and to restore one to its original condition. He also made a plea for funding for Purteen Harbour, which is a hub for marine tourism activities during the season.
Kate O’Malley outlined the potential for a promenade/boardwalk for walkers, runners, and cyclists along the shore from Dookinella to Dooagh. The members indicated they were looking forward to significant investment in tourism in Mayo by a Minister from Mayo, and Minister Ring said he wouldn’t be found wanting if Achill continued to work to help itself and cooperates with Fáilte Ireland in its marketing strategy.
The Minister presented donations from the Achill Half-Marathon to Croí (€10,000 ), who were so impressed with the quality of the event and local people’s contribution to it that they would be interested in working with Achill Tourism again in the future.
St Colman’s Care Centre received €5,000, and Dr O’Leary complimented the hard-working committee and staff of Achill Tourism for supporting St Colman’s in several of its fundraising activities.
The incoming committee adjourned to elect its officers, who for the coming year are: chairperson Roisin Lavelle, vice chairperson Gerry Brannigan, secretary Kate O’Malley, and treasurer Maeve Cafferkey.