One of Meath's most popular family and tourist attractions will close it gates for good later this year with spiralling insurance costs behind the shock decision.
Rathbeggan Lakes, close to Dunshaughlin, offers lake fishing, children's activities such as zip lines, pedal boating and bouncy castles over its 22-acre site and each year welcomes thousands of families for picnics, barbeques and fun days out.
Proprietor Dave Robinson (59), has operated the site since 1998 and has decided this season will be the last for Rathbeggan Lakes in its current guise. He says the business model is broken for this type of enterprise and has warned that other businesses offering leisure activities for kids and families in the Boyne Valley region and beyond are facing the same threat.
“In the heel of the hunt we managed to get our insurance together for this year, but it was a policy that doesn’t cover everything I’d like it to cover but it’s all I can afford and it’s up near €40,000 for everything. It’s just outrageous.
“It was an incredibly difficult decision to come to but once it was made, the weight was lifted off my shoulders. Looking at what is now the last 16-17 weeks of the business, I can say I won't have to worry about this anymore and that is a huge relief.
“I know I can maintain the place and the staff right up until the end of the summer and we're going to honour all our school tour bookings, charity days including one we have coming up for the children's hospital so make sure you come down and see us before we go.”
Dave began to look at the situation at the end of last year as the issue of insurance for this season loomed.
“We've been working away, establishing a family-friendly visitor experience and we've developed a lovely relationship with our customers but I knew this was coming and I started to worry about it last November, I knew there was going to be a difficulty around insurance," said the married father-of-two.
“We have made a balanced decision that after 21 years, this is our last season, we are going to close the place at the end of August. Rathbeggan Family Adventure Park in its current guise will cease to exist. Regretfully, we won't be able to continue to train and employ numerous young local people, I'm going to look for a less insurable and more reduced employee operation, we may even just go back to a fishing lake.
Read the full interview in the Chronicle, out now!