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Clare communities fighting to build a better future

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Town teams are being formed across Clare as rural communities fight to preserve their towns and villages to build a brighter future for the county.

Clare Local Development Company (CLDC)’s programme The Market Towns Initiative has Kilrush, Scariff and Ennistymon each building a new community strategy to protect the future of these unique market towns. It was launched in 2017 in response to what they felt was a growing issue. The effects of the a harsh economic climate and continued depopulation was becoming evident and proving challenging for these market towns.

Under the Market Town Initiative CLDC supported by LEADER funding, is providing the support for each of these towns to develop a new Town Strategy and support the delivery of these plans over a three years. The Plan was based around the development of a local Town team in each location.

Once in place, CLDC in association with Future Analytics Consultants has worked with each town over the last 12 months in developing a local Town Strategy. This was a lengthy process carried out in consultation with each local community, Kilrush, was the first of these towns officially launched their Town Strategy earlier this month.

Approximately 70 people attended the Kilrush Town Team launched at the Digital Hub at the Town Hall. Chairperson Charlie Glynn who outlined the work that had been done since the group had formed. He spoke about the team’s initial mission to develop a community strategy document.

Charlie flagged that the group had gained strong momentum since September 2018 with weekly meetings and the team now have 6 projects in the pipeline – some of which are fully funded and have contracts signed. Amongst these projects are a Marketing and Brand Development Strategy for the town, the Community Wi-Fi project, a Tourism Development Strategy & Visitor Development Plan, the development of kilrush.ie – a website that will share information on the town for businesses, investors, visitors and for the community itself – and the Irish Architecture Foundation’s (IAF) Reimagine Programme.

Kilrush was one of only 5 projects in Ireland selected by the IAF as part of the 2019 Reimagine Programme and it is envisaged that a strong feasibility study will emerge from the programme aimed at enhancing the usability of Kilrush’s historic streets based on community requirements. Mr. Glynn emphasized that this ‘bottom up’ style strategy is a central theme in the community strategy developed by Kilrush Town Team.

Matt Heslin, CEO of Kilrush Credit Union spoke about the synergy between the aims and objectives of the Credit Union and those of the Kilrush Town Team. Doreen Graham, CEO of Clare Local Development Company, who pioneered the Market Towns initiative congratulated the team on the progress to date and called on more local groups to engage with the town team. The night also featured two guest speaker, David Fitzsimons, CEO of Retail Excellence Ireland and Colm O’Brien, founder and managing director of Carambola Kidz.

The event concluded with a call to action from the Town Team for more volunteers. The Town team’s aim is to improve collaboration and communication amongst the community under these thematic headings and the community delivered on the night, eager to support this new project and work together as a community.

Scariff Town’s Team Community Strategy launch took place last Tuesday.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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