By Paddy Mulchrone
PLANS are being considered for a new hostel in Goleen near Schull.
Community leaders want to commission a feasibility study to capitalise on the increasing number of people passing through the village â and, more importantly, on how to hold onto them.
Plans, budgets and funding sources for the project will be examined, with a view to complementing, rather than competing with, existing hotels and bed and breakfasts in the area.
In the village cafÃ©, packed with visiting tourists and snacking cyclists, Goleen and District Community Council chairman Bernard O'Sullivan explained the plan. âIt's a busy weekend at the height of the summer and so many people are passing through. This cafÃ© alone has been a huge success. Now, if we could also offer these people somewhere to stay as well, the knock-on effect of people spending more time and money in the community would be tremendous,' he said.
The feasibility study, for which a tender was published last week, will also consider the hostel's use off-season, when it might be available for group and school visits, or corporate use.
A site for the hostel, the size of which will also be determined by the feasibility study, is also under consideration.
âWe would hope to offer local employment opportunities, which will be flexible depending on the time of year. The feasibility study is all about not over-stretching our resources, but also about attracting as much funding as possible as well,' Bernard added.
Goleen can cite its successful community centre and adjacent sports field as a model of how to engage, involve, entertain and care for its community. For over 10 years, the centre has been a hive of year-round social and sporting activity, offering everything from junior table tennis and yoga, to activities for the elderly.
The nearby Mizen Head visitor centre has also been developed by the Goleen community over 20 years, and now attracts around 50,000 visitors a year. It is a key site on the Wild Atlantic Way.
The Goleen Community Council will meet later this month at an extraordinary general meeting to discuss how to implement the project. There is no deadline yet, but Bernard says it will depend on the results of the study and when funding might become available.
The local council was inspired by an integrated strategic local development plan for the Mizen Peninsula which was produced in 2014 on behalf of the West Cork Development Partnership.
At the time, the plan stated, under âtourism support services': âThe provision of a range of accommodation types is important to the long-term stability of the Mizen peninsula.Â
âRetaining visitors will invariably lead to greater tourism spend. The provision of appropriate and quality accredited tourist accommodation is a key issue.Â
âWhile there are a significant number of holiday homes in the area, it is recognised that this does not adequately address demand for different types of accommodation to suit different needs and budgets.'Â
For the latest hostel plan, committee members have already been to see the successful Dromid Hostel and activity centre near Waterville on Kerry's Iveragh peninsula.
This 26-bed hostel, with four ensuite family rooms and two seven-bed dormitories, is open to groups all year round, and to individuals from May until October.