IT was touch and go as to whether Norwegians Linda Taule and her family ¬– who recently found a balloon released from Dunmanway last Christmas – would get to visit Cork at all.
The balloon had contained a note from the Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce inviting the finder to visit the town.
But the Chamber never envisaged the balloon would journey almost 2,500km away before finding land.
But now, after several appeals by Chamber members for sponsorship, Norwegian Air has come up trumps and has agreed to fly the family from Bergen in Norway to London Gatwick airport.
And, thanks to generous donations to a prize fund for the Taule Leikanger family, the final part of the puzzle is in place – with flights now added, from London to Cork.
The family have even been given a car for the duration of their stay, thanks to Brendan Keary of Keary’s in Cork.
‘It’s amazing. We now have all the flights arranged,’ Catherine Crowley of Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce told The Southern Star. ‘Norwegian Air always said they would love to help, so it was great getting the confirmation from them on Friday,’ Catherine Crowley of Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce told The Southern Star.
‘We’re going to have a West Cork welcoming party for them when they land at Cork Airport at 2pm on Friday July 29th. They are coming to stay here until August 10th and in between they will be able to drive around and take part in all the activities that have been so kindly sponsored by so many West Cork businesses.’
Stuart Buss of Norwegian Air said it was a fantastic story and the airline were delighted to play their part in helping the Taule Leikanger family travel to Cork. ‘If a balloon released in southern Ireland can make it all the way to western Norway, the least we can do is to help the Taule family fly in comfort with Norwegian and enjoy an easier journey to collect their prize,’ said Stuart.
Some of the events planned for the Norwegians include a food tasting night in Dunmanway, a trip to Ballabuidhe Races, as well as special welcoming and sending off parties for them.
‘They love outdoor walks, too, so we will be showing them the best spots for walking including places like Nowen Hill and Shehy Mountains,’ added Catherine.
‘It’s no harm Dunmanway is being put on the map and hopefully this will get us booming and it’s an ideal place to base themselves, as the town is near everything.’
The members are astounded with the media attention that the story has received and they’ve also received a call from Tourism Ireland in Copenhagen. A local duo have agreed to make a video of the Taule Leikanger family’s time in West Cork and the tourist office has requested a copy, in order to promote the area in Denmark.
Catherine is also delighted with the amount of prizes being donated, which range from meal vouchers to accommodation, tours, gifts, beauty treatments, hampers and loads more from numerous businesses in Dunmanway and beyond. The Taule Leikanger family will be staying in Galvin’s on the Green B&B and The Lake House B&B in Dunmanway.
Linda herself is very surprised that finding a balloon sent from Dunmanway would lead to her and her family visiting West Cork.
‘I am very surprised and glad this evolved to things I had not imagined when we found the balloon. We all are so excited and my eldest one is eager to practise her English,’ said Linda.