Killarney, Ireland mayor: direct flights to Myrtle Beach a "real possibility"

      For County Meade, Ireland native Margaret Sobel of North Myrtle Beach, having access to a direct flight from the Grand Strand to Ireland would be almost as exciting as kissing the Blarney Stone.

      "I think it would be wonderful," said Sobel, who manages Molly Darcy's Irish Pub on Ocean Drive in North Myrtle Beach. "We already get a lot of tourists that come from Ireland and to get here, they have to either fly to New York or fly to Atlanta and get a connecting flight, so it would make it so much easier for them to get here."

      The mayor of Killarney, Ireland, one of Myrtle Beach's sister cities, was quoted in a Kerry County, Ireland newspaper as saying a transatlantic flight between the Grand Strand and Killarney is a real possibility.

      Upon returning from an official visit to Myrtle Beach, Killarney Mayor Sean Counihan told the Kerryman newspaper that Myrtle Beach tourism officials are "serious operators" who were "extremely enthusiastic" about the possibility of arranging direct flights between the two destinations.

      "They are looking into raising the profile of the area and have actively been pursuing the Irish or UK market," Counihan said of Myrtle Beach officials. "They are certainly interested in doing business with us in Kerry as Killarney has already built up strong links with the area due to our twinning initiatives."

      Counihan told the newspaper that if a deal is struck, it could involve one flight per week for up to 16 weeks at first. He said Spirit Airlines, one of the most popular carriers serving the Myrtle Beach market, would be the preferred option for providing the service, though other airlines would be considered.