New college campus for long abandoned site

The former Pretty Polly site is to be developed into a state-of-the-art campus

The former Pretty Polly site in Killarney is to be developed into a state-of-the-art campus for a new centre of excellence in hospitality training, can confirm.

The complex will double up as a centre of excellence for renewable energy and sustainable green technologies, craft apprenticeship training and as a regional centre of excellence for lifelong learning.

The good news was confirmed by Kerry TD, Brendan Griffin, who recently brought Higher Education Minister, Simon Harris, on a tour of the site which previously housed the Pretty Polly and Sara Lee factories.

Deputy Griffin also facilitated a meeting between the minister, officials of the Kerry Education Training Board and Killarney hoteliers which was held in the Dromhall Hotel, Killarney last March.

The former factory has been derelict since 2009

The Kerry ETB has now received approval to proceed to the next stage in developing what is being described as a College of the Future in the town.

The new development, which will use and transform the buildings already on the site, will bring a major further education and training facility to Killarney and it will deliver quality training to 3,573 students in its first year, 3,591 in year two and 3,609 in the third year.

Education Minister and Kerry TD, Norma Foley, meanwhile, said the project proposed will involve overhauling the existing factory site, including the existing on-site buildings and transforming it into a modern campus.

“We will ensure that the technological and further education and training sectors in Kerry have access to state-of-theart facilities that will drive economic growth and social development, expand digital teaching and learning facilities and create and expand key centres of excellence,” she said.

Higher Education Minister, Simon Harris, and Kerry TD Brendan Griffin visiting the Pretty Polly site last March

The former Pretty Polly plant, which once employed well over 1,000 people, has been idle since 2009. The building has been held in trust by Kerry County Council but the 25,000 square feet building has remained empty.

The site has a long of employment in the town ever since hosiery manufacturer Pretty Polly opened its doors there in 1967.

Employing over 1,000 people in the town during its boom era of the 1970s that number had dwindled 152 when it closed in 1995.

With Pretty Polly bought by Chicago based Sara Lee, the company returned with 300 jobs in 1999, again announcing its closure in January 2005 with the loss of 92 jobs, stating that there was an oversupply of its product on the market.

Beocare took over the plant in 2005 where it manufactured medical products and employed 46 workers. When it closed in 2009, there were just 20 staff on the payroll.

The plans will be formally revealed at a reception int he new Kerry ETB Admissions Office on High Street, Killarney later this Monday.

The development has been enthusiastically welcomed by Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Niall Kelleher, who described it as a hugely positive development for Killarney.

“We have been campaigning for something to be done with the former Pretty Polly and Sara Lee site for years and it is encouraging that something so forward-thinking  in its concept and has been approved,” he said.

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