Local leaders believe the Limavady borough will be able to cash in on the benefits of having the Irish Open at the Royal Portrush Golf Club in the summer.
The decision to move the European Tour event from Killarney, Co Kerry, follows the achievements of Northern Ireland’s three major winners in the last two years. Darren Clarke’s emotional victory in the Open Championship at Sandwich in Kent last summer followed the successive US Open victories of Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy. McDowell and Clarke have homes in Portrush.
East Derry Assemblyman, John Dallat said securing the Irish Open could open the way for a major return. “Anything is now possible,” he said. “Confidence at that level has now been bestowed on the club, so why not?”
Limavady Mayor, Sean McGlinchey hopes the Roe Valley will experience a major boost, including welcoming tourists to its hotels, B&Bs, shops and restaurants.
“It’s great news and we all hope the Limavady borough can enjoy some of the spin offs,” said the Sinn Fein councillor.
SDLP Colr. Michael Coyle said it was “terrific news” for the borough. “It will be a chance for those who play golf to get the chance to meet international sports men and women.”
Director of Development at Limavady Borough Council, Valerie Richmond said: “Great opportunities exist now for Council, our local businesses and tourism providers to attract many of these visitors to Limavady both during 2012 and in the future. Council is delighted that the hard work by various organisations to bring this prestigious tournament to Portrush exceeded expectations. Council now looks forward to a successful event and prosperous tourism season for all.”
General Manager of the newly rebranded Roe Park Resort, Limavady, George Graham said: “As the only 4 star golf resort in the North Coast we are delighted that the Royal Portrush has been selected as the venue for the 2012 Irish Open. The past number of years have been challenging for the tourism and hospitality sectors and the announcement of a professional golf tournament of this magnitude is a welcome boast for the area. Already we have received significant enquiries about overnight stays and golf breaks at our 18 hole parkland golf course and look forward to the return of the Irish Open to the region for the first time since 1947.”
DUP Colr. George Robinson said: “The tournament will bring a much needed boost to the tourist economy in the area, and will guarantee worldwide exposure for Northern Ireland golf, which we must capitalise on.”
There have been calls for the return of the Greencastle to Magilligan Ferry in time for the Irish Open. Billy McCaul, manager of Greencastle Golf Club says the return of the ferry in the run up to and during the golf competition could have major benefits for the whole Inishowen area.