Lourdes tour operator hit by losses following biblical flood

Irish-registered United Irish Pilgrimage to Lourdes makes loss €41,763 following flash floods

Flash floods devastated the town last year

Flash floods devastated the town last year

Fri, Aug 8, 2014, 16:34

The French writer Émile Zola was less than complimentary about the waters at Lourdes, describing them as “an abominable soup of ills”.

“There was everything in it: threads of blood, sloughed-off skin, scabs, bits of cloth and bandage, an abominable soup of ills... the miracle was that anyone emerged alive from this human slime,” he said after visit in 1891.

His rather sordid description didn’t appear to impact the shrine’s allure, however, as it went on to become one of most popular places of pilgrimage on the globe.

The small town at the base of the Pyrenees, which has an indigenous population of 15,000, attracts up to six million pilgrims a year.

The local economy is built around the annual influx of holy euros.

However, last year flash floods devastated the area causing the closure of the shrine at the peak of the season, forcing thousands to cancel, including many Irish tours.

The United Irish Pilgrimage to Lourdes - an Irish registered company which operates tours to the shrine - reported a loss of €41,763 for 2013.

In its recently filed accounts, it makes no mention of the floods, suggesting income for last year was roughly the same as the previous year but expenses were higher.

The company’s directors - Joseph Martin Gallagher and Patrick Alphonsus MacKin - said they had no plans to change the activities and operations of the company in the foreseeable future.

They also said last year’s loss would be written-off against cash reserves, which stood at €140,948, down from €182,741 in 2012.

The company, which was set in 1989, did, however, express concern about the financial risks posed by airline fuel surcharges and additional airport charges as a result of flight delays.

It appears the firm is more worried about what hidden charges Ryanair has up its sleeve than the prospect of another biblical flood.