October'21 Council Corner

Margaret Cahill

International Councillor, Skål International Ireland

Visitors to Ireland rate the friendliness of the people as one of the main memories of their visit to my native country.

The character of the people, coupled with our ancient island heritage, and the stunning natural beauty of our landscapes and coastline, has resulted in a holiday destination quite unique in the world. 

Tourism and hospitality is one of our main industries.

Our markets have changed and evolved over the decades. We now welcome more discerning and repeat visitors who share our values and wish to explore our cities and rural hidden areas. Our industry has responded in providing an infrastructure to meet these needs.

For the last year and a half, our industry has had virtually no overseas business. Our home market has provided seasonal business especially in the well-known and rural destinations particularly along the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’. Support from the government during the lockdown and investment in new experiences and enhanced facilities has meant that a ‘mothballed’ but amazing industry is able to rise like the phoenix as travel restrictions are relaxed.

As well as the loss of overseas tourists for eighteen months, the other difficulty has been the loss of qualified staff. Many have found jobs in other industries or returned to their own country. Despite all the setbacks our industry leaders are positive about the future, and we are looking forward to overseas business returning next year.

Skål International in Ireland

For over seventy years Skål International has been actively supported in Ireland. In 1948 our Dublin club was the first post-World War II club founded. Currently we have four clubs: Cork, Dublin, Galway, and Kerry. Like the experience of other European countries, we have seen a continued decline in membership in the past decade.

Despite the difficulty of retaining members and attracting new and younger people, our commitment to Skål International has not waned. Our small country has produced three World Presidents, including the first woman to lead our organisation, Mary Bennett, a proud member of the Galway club. 

As well as National President, I also have the honour of representing Ireland as International Councillor. My background has been as a representative of our national tourism organisation, where I have had the opportunity to work all over the world. At home in Ireland, I work and chair a number of tourism related organisations. 

With my husband, we live in one of the most scenic counties in the Southwest of Ireland. Kerry has the most varied scenery in the country - splendid mountains, spectacular lakes, miles of sandy coastline and sub-tropical vegetation that produces a wide variety of animals and birds. To crown it all the relaxed way of life with warm and welcoming people has made our home in Killarney ideal. We wake up each morning surrounded by the highest mountains in Ireland where the colours perpetually change. At the end of our garden herds of red deer graze, and the National Park provides endless opportunity for leisure and a nature lovers dream. Living here extends our lives! 

With all the good wishes of Irish Skålleagues, we hope that the health and recovery to a more normal life will happen soon for all Skål International members around the world. And we look forward to welcoming many of you to Ireland and Kerry.

Margaret Cahill

International Councillor, Skål International Ireland