THE biggest sporting event to ever happen in Donegal is in full swing.
Over one hundred thousand visitors are expected to attend the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, hosted by Ballyliffin Golf Club, over the coming days.
The event has attracted golf fans from across Ireland to Inishowen, starting with Wednesday’s Pro-Am day, hosted by The Rory Foundation, while a list of top professionals will battle it out for the $7m (€6 million) prize fund on offer through the European Tour’s Rolex Series between now and Sunday afternoon.
“It’s huge for us,” said John Farren, one of the key architects in bringing the Irish Open to Ballyliffin.
“I’ve compared it to Donegal staging the World Cup. That’s how big a deal it is in terms of the exposure we are going to get. It’s long overdue but we intend to take our moment in the sun,” Mr Farren said.
Ballyliffin is Ireland’s most northerly golf club and the Irish Open is expected to attract a television audience in excess of 500 million viewers on Sky, BBC and RTE over the coming days. The RTE Six One News will be broadcast live from the course this evening, Friday.
More than 500 volunteers will be working on course throughout the five days, including sixty greenkeepers, with an additional 2,000 people looking after catering, security and entertainment.
Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Paul Wallace, paid tribute to Donegal County Council staff who have worked around the clock to ensure that the roads leading into Ballyliffin are ready to take the influx of traffic.
“There’s two car parks on site – each with a capacity of 3,500 cars – that can cater for 7,000 vehicles. We’ve colleagues from the Louth, Cavan/Monaghan and Sligo/Leitrim Divisions joining Donegal members on site all weekend.
“There will be approximately eighty Gardai working on site at any given time – between motorcycles, road policing and static points. To be fair, Donegal County Council have put in trojan work as have people from the European Tour. This is their roadshow.
“We’ve the Water Unit off the coast, we’ll have air support providing down links to help traffic flow while the Dog Unit is here too.
“An awful lot of planning has gone into hosting this event but the weather is wonderful and it’s a nice event to police. It’s like the Donegal Rally or an Ulster final.
“Everyone is in great form and a lot of our people are keen golfers and want to be here which makes it easier,” Sgt Wallace said.
Posted: 5:16 pm July 5, 2018
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