Cork’s business community enjoyed a major confidence boost over the long weekend, with over 50,000 visitors descending on the city for St Patrick’s Day and filling the bars and restaurants to watch Ireland’s Grand Slam rugby triumph in the Six Nations.
President of Cork Business Assocation, Kevin Herlihy, said it was one of the best weekends of the year so far, with brisk trade reported in the bars, hotels, and restaurants.
“The parade was fantastic on Friday. Well done to Cork City Council. They really did a great job,” said Mr Herlihy. “There were bands from America, it was really super. It was a representation of all the different Diasporas who are living in Cork.”
There were no reports of major trouble despite the huge crowds. Gardaí were out in force in large numbers. “They were really a great presence over the whole weekend,” said Mr Herlihy. The only negative was the weather but it was great to see large numbers of tourists visit Cork, especially from North America.
“I believe all the hotels were full as well. The pubs and restaurants did very well. There was a great ambience around the city. The city is really thriving and we are the envy of other cities around the world,” added Mr Herlihy.
Michael O’Donovan of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, Cork branch, said the long weekend saw a great boost to the local economy, and the hospitality sector in particular. The Cheltenham races, the St Patrick’s Day parade and sporting events combined to bring out the crowds.
“There seems to be a great appetite this year for people to get out and socialise, going to the pubs to watch the racing during the week, and Friday was a big family day,” said Mr O’Donovan. “I think it was a huge success with over 50,000 people coming to the city. Talking to colleagues yesterday and today, we had a really good day on Friday.” The Six Nations win on Saturday was a huge boost. “It’s a great kick start for the tourist season ahead,” he added.
There was a noticeable increase in the number of Canadian and American tourists over the whole weekend. Mr O’Donovan said business confidence is close to returning to the levels that existed pre-Covid. “One busy weekend doesn’t unfortunately make a summer. But we’re definitely heading in the right direction. People are starting to get their confidence back, and coming out socialising,” he said.
Joe Kennedy, Cork branch of the International Hotels Federation, said the city “was abuzz with tourists” with the majority of hotels showing full occupancy over the weekend from a good few weeks out.
“The size of the Cork parade being its biggest ever brought a lot more people to the city than previous years. St Patrick's weekend is traditionally the kick off to our season and it has certainly proved the same after this weekend. I would encourage people to book early this year if planning a getaway to avail of best value and more options to choose from, as the year ahead is looking positive as we continue to rebuild our industry.
” added Mr Kennedy.