A NEW voluntary society, the Friends of Joyce Tower Society, established by locals and dedicated to keeping the James Joyce Museum in Sandycove open all year round, held its first AGM in the Kingston Hotel on September 24.
The Joyce Tower was closed for several months earlier this year following staffing pressures, whilst Failte Ireland held discussions with Dun-Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, with a view to the council taking over the permanent operation, promotion and marketing of the Joyce Tower and Museum in 2013.
With the assistance of local volunteers, the tower was able to remain open from 10am to 6pm, seven days a week until the end of September, with admission free to the public.
According to Tom Fitzgerald, chairperson of the interim management committee of Friends of Joyce Tower: “It is hoped the tower will remain open throughout the year, with a closing time at 4pm during the winter months, though this has yet to be agreed with Failte Ireland.”
Councillor Cormac Devlin (FF) said: “I welcome this new lifeline for the museum because, without it, this marvellous tourist amenity in the area would be closed.
“These volunteers that have come forward with a positive solution to maintaining this unique tourist attraction should be commended for giving of their time and expertise. “I would hope that local or national funding could be sought and secured to ensure the survival and upkeep of this museum.”
According to Failte Ireland, more than 100 people have offered to become volunteers, and 60 have participated in a half-day induction course.
Alex Connolly, of Failte Ireland, told The Gazette: “It was great to get the collaboration with this group of volunteers to keep the tower open during the season.
“It worked really well, and we were happy to provide the required training, but the volunteers brought all the energy, commitment and motivation to it and the combination worked a treat.”
Of the new initiative, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, said: “It’s great to see the tower re-opening.
“This is an important attraction for Dun Laoghaire, and for all of Dublin, and an important landmark for Dubliners.
“I’d like to congratulate the volunteers for their efforts in reaching this break-through.”