Carlingford Adventure Centre celebrates 25th Anniversary in High Flying Style.
The Highs and Lows of 25 years in Business: Carlingford Adventure Centre.
Carlingford Adventure Centre celebrated their 25th anniversary with a very special event for all their staff. It was a full day of celebration consisting of BBQ, Band and Helicopter rides over Carlingford harbour, forest and SKYPARK.-all the sites of our outdoor activities. A slide show was also on display showing a history of our progression through the 25 years.
Company Director, Tom Mc Ardle reflected on the early days and how the company has developed over the last 25 years. Starting with the idea in 1989 when Mary (his wife) visited Achill Island on a family holiday and the seed of an idea was born.
Tom had already bought The Milestone, (an old bonded warehouse in the centre of Carlingford) and he converted them into 10 bedrooms and an office. Carlingford Adventure Centre was officially opened in 1990 offering Windsurfing, Sailing and Kayaking.
“Starting from one employee in our drapery shop to running a successful adventure centre employing over 65 people, catering for 40,000 clients and providing such a wide scope of outdoor activities – I am very proud, grateful and thankful.” Tom Mc Ardle.
Growing over time, in 1992 The Mc Ardle’s began to introduce many more activities, Rock Climbing, Archery, Hill Walking, and Canadian Canoeing.
Major development began in 2000 with the development of a Team Challenge course, the waterside facilities were upgraded, and expansion of the accommodation. A new accommodation block and conference room were added to bring the accommodation to 107.
2001 saw continued expansion with the building of The High Ropes Course, the first of its kind in Ireland.
In 2001 disaster hit with the Foot and Mouth Scare, with restricted activities and people unwilling to travel…It was a very scary time for Tom & Mary. They had just invested £850,000 in the Adventure Centre and it was sitting empty.
With the outbreak of the Foot and Mouth disease a small active group from Carlingford, including Tom approached the government to put together a package to counteract the initial negative publicity for the area- once foot & mouth had been eradicated. Thankfully €250,000 was put in place to publicise the area and later that year – as soon as June – tourists returned and in the long turn, it gave credence to the little known term “Cooley Peninsula”.
The Adventure Centre’s popularity was growing at an amazing speed not only in Ireland but in Europe. The centre was recognised by ACELS in 2005 to teach English as a foreign language and had groups coming over from France, Spain and Italy to take part in activities and language courses; these are still very successful today.
The company continued to expand; in 2006 they set up a new company Carlingford Holiday Homes, 2007 they built on 6 more bedrooms and 2 Luxury apartments. They survived the recession in 2008, and continued to strive. They purchased the quarry and launched Laser Combat – Ireland’s biggest outdoor laser arena in 2010.
2014 was a major year for them, Thomas, Toms Son (joined the company in 2003) became managing director. It was his vision and drive that implemented the development of SKYPARK -, Irelands best Zip Line Adventure Park. At the official opening of SKYPARK in July 2014- An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said, “SKYPARK is an exciting new tourism attraction and a fantastic asset for the East Coast. It will help the area to attract more visitors from home and abroad. Facilities like SKYPARK contribute greatly to a vibrant tourism sector and I want to congratulate everyone involved for bringing this project to life."
Tom Mc Ardle, Managing Director of Carlingford Adventure Centre, expressed his gratitude to his staff past and present “We are delighted to celebrate 25 years of Adventure. This celebration today is a major thank you to all our staff for helping us on our journey and for making this company the success it is today, believe you me it would not have happened without you.”