WORLD-RENOWNED environmentalist and marketing guru, Sir Tim Smit, has cut the ribbon on Ireland’s longest rope bridge, a 112 foot long, 36ft high structure which is set to attract thousands of new adventurers to Kerry’s breath-taking Skellig Coast on the stunning Wild Atlantic Way.
Members of the public are now invited to test their head for heights and appetite for adventure on ‘The Skywalk’ which took five months to construct at Kells Bay House & Gardens.
The sub-tropical paradise lies just one hour from Tralee and has traditionally attracted gardening enthusiasts from all over the world.
While Kells Bay House & Gardens is already a haven for serious gardening enthusiasts and the many who want to buy rare species, The Skywalk is set to further broaden its appeal to younger visitors, families and tours.
It will be a major boost to the site which already attracts 10,000 plus visitors annually and provides up to 10 jobs in the local community at peak times.
Sir Tim Smit is famous for his work with The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the world-renowned Eden Project in the UK and has visited Kells Bay House & Gardens previously.
Cutting the ribbon on The Skywalk, he said: “There are thousands of gardens in Ireland and The British Isles and many of them employ words like ‘magical, romantic and mysterious’ to describe themselves. In truth they are mostly hopeful.
“To be magical you need to have a wild untamed streak, an invasion of marvellous plants and a presiding genius who believes that this place should ground the lightning of love of nature. Billy Alexander is exactly the sort of inspired magician that a truly magical garden needs. He is the Prince that kissed the Sleeping Beauty that became Kells Bay,” he added.
Owner, Billy Alexander, said The Skywalk is already a huge hit locally and he hopes the new visitor attraction will allow him to double his staff over the coming months. “I’m delighted with the initial reaction to The Skywalk. It has been a challenging journey but the feedback from local visitors and early tourists has given me great confidence that this will bring Kells Bay Gardens to a new audience.”
Planted 160 years ago, the Kells Bay estate already includes a profusion of rare, Southern Hemisphere plants, a breath-taking waterfall, tree sculptures and bamboo gardens and is home to Ireland’s largest palm tree, an 11 tonne specimen with a 7.5 metre trunk.
· Admission to Kells Bay House & Gardens is daily form 9am until dusk, 7 days a week and costs €8 per adult, €6 per child and the centre offers a family pass for €25. There is no additional fee for using The Skywalk. For more on Kells Bay House & Gardens, visit www.kellsbay.ie