The Falls Hotel & Spa in Ennistymon, Co. Clare have set themselves apart from the crowd within the highly competitive Irish hospitality sector, by announcing their status as the first and only hotel in the country to generate power from its own hydroelectricity plant. Originally owned and operated by Dan McCarthy and now run by his sons Michael McCarthy (General Manager) and John McCarthy (Deputy Manager), the popular venue is reaping the benefits of a large-scale hydro turbine project that took two years to complete and which harnesses energy from the adjacent River Inagh to create a sustainable power source that will serve the hotel for many years to come.
Spearheaded by Dan, Michael, John and their dedicated team, in consultation with Clare County Council, the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board and the Department of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, the project has positioned them as devoted eco warriors in their own right, with the family run property having reduced its energy consumption by 830,000 kWh of electricity in the 12 months since the turbine was commissioned. This counteracts the emission of an estimated 550 tonnes of carbon – the equivalent of offsetting three return trips, by car, to the moon.
The landmark project kicked off in 2016 and reached completion in late 2018. The water turbine has been powering the hotel ever since and in the 12 months since it was first activated in its new-and-improved state, it has assisted the property hugely in significantly lessening its reliance on carbon fuels and subsequently reducing its carbon footprint.
The announcement reflects the Falls Hotel’s lengthy history of taking proactive steps to establish themselves as an environmentally aware property, with eco issues and environmental protection to the forefront of their mind. In fact, it has been six decades since the power of the River Inagh and its neighbouring cascades was first harnessed as a key source of energy for the building, when then-owners John F. Wood and his wife Bridget added a 30-kWh hydroelectric plant to the site. This is the very same plant that underwent substantial upgrades in 2016 when the McCarthy family transformed it into a 220-kWh hydroelectric turbine, with the capacity to power the entire hotel and leisure centre.
Located in the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way, the 140-bedroom hotel prides itself on being an actively eco-friendly property, with many initiatives in place to support and promote sustainability and a green ethos. The property boasts numerous wildflower areas, which provide integral pollination for the occupants of the two beehives that are located on site. The team are also proud members of the Burren Ecotourism Network, which focuses on promoting responsible tourism for the nearby Cliffs of Moher and Burren UNESCO Geopark. They also adopt green initiatives in-house to benefit guests and the environment, with a ban on the use of plastic straws and cups, chemical-free cleaning products in use throughout the hotel, and an electric car charging point available for guests’ use.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Michael McCarthy, General Manager of the Falls Hotel & Spa, said: “We’re so excited to be able to share this good news story with the world and are incredibly proud that our efforts are showing such positive results. The water turbine has now been in action for a year and after this significant period of time, we can weigh up the results and really see the astounding difference its presence makes – and will continue to make – to establishing our property as a haven of sustainability. We pride ourselves on being eco-friendly across the board and our decision to rely heavily on hydroelectricity has taken this commitment to the next level.”
He continued: “Our location in one of the most scenic, unspoiled parts of the country has certainly made an impact on our operational policies, as we are keen to do everything in our power to preserve such natural beauty for generations to come.”