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PICTURE SPECIAL: Back in business! West Cork reopens

May 18th, 2021 11:45 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

The Golden Scissors barber shop in Bandon was busy from early morning on Monday ((Photos: Andy Gibson, Anne Minihane, Martin Walsh & David Creedon)

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As West Cork reopens yet again, the hospitality sector fears staff shortages

THERE was a palpable sense of both relief and optimism across West Cork as businesses such as hairdressers and non-essential retail opened up for the first time this year.

Churches also opened their doors, giving parishioners a chance to attend mass for the first time in five months, while Council-owned facilities such as Michael Collins House and Skibbereen Heritage Centre one again welcomed back visitors.

Justin Crowley, owner of A Cut Above Hair & Beauty in Clonakilty said it was fantastic to be back open and working after being more or less closed since last October.

‘Our loyal customers are thrilled to be back and they never realised how important we are to their lives until we were missing,’ Justin told The Southern Star.

Fr Tom Hayes of Enniskeane Parish said that from speaking to people in other parishes there is a ‘sense of gratitude and relief’ that the restrictions have now eased.

‘A parish is truly alive when people can be with one another and the Lord. We are delighted to be able to welcome people again,’ said Fr Hayes.

An influx of visitors is expected in West Cork over the coming weeks now that inter-county travel restrictions have been lifted. With hotels and guesthouses set to open for the June bank holiday weekend, it’s gearing up to be a busy summer season.

However, some hospitality businesses are finding it difficult to recruit staff ahead of the June 7th reopening for outdoor dining.

Danielle Delaney, manager of The Brick Oven in Bantry said that, along with their sister business the Bantry Bay Hotel, they are finding it difficult filling certain positions.

‘We have a lot of teenagers applying for jobs in The Brick Oven who wouldn’t have qualified for PUP, but they are unskilled. We are mainly looking for pizza chefs but they are proving difficult to hire. I had an ad online and normally I could get 20 applications but I’ve received none, and it’s been up a few months now,’ said Danielle.

David Henry, general manager of the Clonakilty Park Hotel said it has been ‘difficult or next to impossible’ to find qualified staff, and that lot of staff have left the industry over the last year.

Maria Carolan, of the hotel’s human resources department added: ‘As we started to plan to reopen there was definitely a difficulty recruiting staff and the interest didn’t seem to be there. However I have noticed after some weeks we are getting more of a response. Unfortunately the candidates are not as experienced, but they are certainly eager.’

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