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Gleeson: It was one of the greatest acts of disrespect I have ever witnessed

The training pitch on the Lewis Road side of Fitzgerald Stadium was earmarked for the development

A DECISION by Fáilte Ireland to all but ignore submissions on long-standing plans to develop a Kerry GAA museum at Killarney’s Fitzgerald Stadium has been slated at a meeting of Killarney Municipal District Council.

Cllr Michael Gleeson said he was part of an enthusiastic committee that obtained full planning permission for the development several years ago and those spearheading the project travelled to Dublin to meet with a senior official from the national tourism body and two others from the organisation to make a detailed presentation and advance the plans.

“The gentleman from Fáilte Ireland said he would assess the proposal and get back to us but we never heard anything again. The public servant took flight and ran and he left us high and dry,” Cllr Gleeson said.

“It was one of the greatest acts of disrespect I have ever witnessed and to be treated with that contempt was quite frightening,” he told council colleagues during an online meeting this Wednesday.

A GAA museum at Fitzgerald Stadium would have enormous potential

Prior to the economic crash, planning permission had been secured and revised, a free site was available at the stadium, there was onsite parking for tour buses and cars and a commitment for a €0.5 million bridging loan was received from Croke Park.

Cllr Michael Gleeson: Travelled to Dublin

The estimated cost of the development was €3.5 million but the committee spearheading the project was told that it needed to be brought up to €5 million to qualify for funding under Fáilte Ireland’s iconic status criteria and the plans were updated.

Cllr Gleeson said he accompanied fellow committee members, Fitzgerald Stadium Committee Chairman Der Brosnan, former senior Kerry Group official Liam Chute, All-Ireland winner and former school principal Eamonn Fitzgerald and others to meet with the senior Fáilte Ireland officials and while they were told an assessment would be carried out, they never heard another word.

“To be treated the way we were was shocking,” said Cllr Gleeson who is a two-time All-Ireland medal winner with Kerry.

Der Brosnan: Stadium Committee Chairman

On his suggestion, the proposals have been reactivated and Killarney Municipal District Council is to again ask Fáilte Ireland to financially support a Centre of Cultural and Sporting Celebration in Killarney.

“I hope, at least, on this occasion, they will give us the courtesy of responding and not leave us stranded and looking foolish,” Cllr Gleeson stressed.

Cllrs Niall O’Callaghan acknowledged that Fitzgerald Stadium was steeped in GAA history and he said a museum of that nature would prove invaluable to Killarney on rainy days.

“You should see the reaction from people when they go in there and see the history that’s on the walks of the corridor already,” he remarked.

Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Brendan Cronin, said the project has enormous potential and with different people now at the helm of Fáilte Ireland, more representations from Killarney might be received in a more welcoming manner.

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