By Liam Cosgrove
Hard to believe that Christmas is just less than 20 weeks away but a Town Team Project Group came together last January to see if the Town Centre and our new streets (which can’t take the old lighting system) could organise a new one. The previous set of lights was commissioned in the latter years of the last decade, with support from the then Town Council, who traditionally annually resourced the Xmas lighting project with capital and operational costs to the tune of €13,000 per annum until it was abolished.
A significant application to the REDZ Government programme in 2015 allowed the town to re- invest in the lights and the Central European Green Tree, which was the focal point on the square. Galway County have never been able to come close to the level of commitment (€1,500 in 2019) which has had the business community raising on average of some €10,000 from their subscriptions and the community through fundraising with events like the Zombie Walk and People of the Year Awards. The lights and electrical points have all changed with the new street enhancement programme so a whole new set has to be commissioned and then installed.
A huge amount of research and costings has gone on to the measurements, samples, and creative vistas to the point that in late June this year GRD have allocated 66% of Grant Aid of €130,000 project which should see the Xmas Illuminations sorted for a decade. . The balance of €44,000 has to be raised locally for the capital and installation, servicing and storage costs.
The business owners have indicated their support and the Town Team are really excited with this positive news and are looking forward to having a fabulous new looking town this December. Some additional events will be confirmed in the Autumn but it is hoped that the new lights will be installed by the last week of November.
Any Ideas or thoughts by email to email@example.com
“This has been really good news for our community, given the delayed street enhancement works, the Pandemic; it should give us all a positive lift as we close out a very difficult year.” Town Team Co-ordinator, Anita Kileen
by Liam Cosgrove
Planning has been granted to construct a new 3,200 square foot furniture showroom and building has just recently begun for well-known Furniture Supplier, PJ Kenny, in Ballydangan on the main Ballinasloe / Athlone R446 road. This is an exciting development and investment in the local, rural area where alongside their traditional offering they will also be stockists of their own new brand, West & Moore, which will consist of a select range of mattresses, pillows, towels etc. They hope to open the new premises later this year or in early January 2021.
PJ Kenny’s Furniture store, located in Moore South, Ballydangan, Ballinasloe / Athlone, Co. Roscommon, is an independent, family run business established in 2004. Since then they have been providing customers with quality mattresses, divans, bed frames, furniture suites etc. They operate a delivery service which is free within a thirty-kilometer radius of the store. Their founding aim is to promote and supply the best of Irish manufactured products where possible. They proudly supply brand names such as Respa, Briody, Odearest and many more.
Andrew, son of PJ and Frances has been working alongside his father since he was thirteen years old. He was born in Portiuncula Hospital, attended Athlone Community College and the NUI in Galway for a period of time. He is currently the Regional Sales Manager for The West & Midlands and is nearing twenty years in this field. He insists “Business, Sales & Marketing, Advertising etc. is in my blood and I’ve always had a keen interest in ‘doing business’ since I was a kid.” He got all of his experience from working in the furniture store throughout his teenage years. PJ, his father, is owner of the furniture store in Ballydangan, having established the business 17 years ago.
Within the last two years, Andrew has become a partner in the company and is looking ahead to progressing the business forward. The continuation of ‘Quality Products at Value Prices’, which has always been PJ’s motto down through the years, will continue. The only differences will be a bright, new, spacious showroom and exciting new product lines. The business will be called “Kennys Home Furniture”.
I believe our new location in Ballydangan right between the two principle towns of Ballinasloe and Athlone is ideal. A short hop from both towns and surrounding areas with free, dedicated parking. A destination furniture store offering the best of Irish made mattresses, beds and furniture combined with value and genuine customer service” stated Andrew. Keep an eye out and listen for further information regarding this exciting new venture. PJ Kenny Beds and Furniture still welcomes you and looks forward to seeing you in the new premises in the very near future. Their shop is open from Monday to Saturday 10am-7pm.
To get in contact with the furniture store, ring them on 086 8463924 or 090 9673412. You can also email them on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Keep an eye out for discounts and special offers on their Facebook page below or website PJ Kenny Furniture Store.
Ballinasloe in 1920 saw many people still paying ground rent to the Clancarty Estate heirs, which continued right up to the 60’s. The large majority of employers of commercial establishments were either owned or run by Protestants or Presbyterians, whose main purpose was to support the Local Landlords and the remaining Anglo-Irish Settlers. With World War 1 just over, people were looking with optimism to the future. A Longford family had purchased a huge shop in Society Street from Moffet Reynolds and Moffet. It was one of a chain of stores bought by Charles and Catherine Cullen, who put their eldest son, James. L. (Jim) Cullen in charge of the Ballinasloe outfit. The three-and-half storey building which specialised in drapery and footwear, was gradually becoming a significant employer in the town and attracting business from a wide area. The top level which where the “live-in” staff resided could accommodate up to twelve people. Some of the original staff included the late Annie Egan, Nellie Jenkins, Annie Doran, Paul Kelly and Joe McGuinness, among others.
Later, another premises was purchased by the Cullens in Main Street, which specialised in ladies’ and gent’s footwear. This was sold in the mid-eighties while the Society Street premises went under the hammer a few years later. Jim Cullen quickly endeared himself to the local people. His parents had committed to providing credit and small loans to the less well off members of the community. They later engaged with some of the more prosperous members of the community, to come up with a solution that would provide work and good wages for the people of the town. According to Jim Cullen’s youngest son, Leo, “in September 1928, the town fathers and the Cullen family began a series of informal talks with regards the possibilities of setting up an industry or business that would create good paying jobs. These talks lasted about six years before the official committee (The Chamber of Commerce), settled on a proposal to look into the possibility of establishing a Shoe Factory.
Early in 1934, just as things were falling into place, the investors announced they were reconsidering the project. They thought that the best thing to do was leave it for another day. “The Cullens were committed to the project, so it was decided at committee level, to allow them continue and raise the necessary capital. At that stage, no one realised how committed the Cullens were, as there were many hurdles to overcome” added Leo. Charles Cullen, Jim Cullen’s father, had many contacts in both Ireland and England, where he had been doing business for many years. With the addition of his new outlet in Ballinasloe, the Cullens now had a network of six premises within a 40 mile radius of Athlone. Charles used his contacts to achieve the impossible. “With the help of John Rawson of Rawson Shoes, Dundalk, the necessary equipment was purchased.
His support to the venture was the most important commitment to the establishment of Dubarry. He sought out experts in the shoe trade in England, such as Bert Boswell and Albert Headd, and more skilled leather workers, to join them in Ballinasloe. Bert Boswell’s contribution to Dubarry is the unsung story of the company’s success. In those early years and very difficult times, his attention and commitment to detail, and the passing on the knowledge of the business can never be truly appreciated. “In 1927, my grandparents consolidated their investments into a trust for the benefit of their children. My father was the Executor of the trust and it was from this source that the money came for the initial investment and support for Dubarry. My father continued to give support to the shoe company down through the years, a promise he made to his mother on the day of the incorporation of Dubarry, which she said was ‘her proudest moment’ stated Leo.
Dubarry Shoe Factory was founded in 1936 but did not go into full production until 1938. The initial two years were spent installing machinery, training personnel and restructuring the Old Workhouse on Station Road. It was to become the town’s biggest employer where entire families became synonymous in the workforce. So many school-leavers got employment there-many of whom remained there until their retirement. It proved a huge boost to the town’s economy and was quickly making its name nationwide. Leo Cullen recalls “Some years later, Mr. Rawson recommended Mr. Jim Scott as Managing Director and the Englishman, with his family, moved to Ballinasloe. The following twenty five years proved to be tough going for the firm. Several times the Cullen Trust were called on to help out. Then in the 50’s, Norvic Shoes became shareholders and agents for Dubarry, in Ireland and England. “At this time, the Cullen Trust was the majority shareholder, Norvic Shoes held 20% and Mr. Jim Scott held the remaining shares. Jim Cullen was chairman of Dubarry Shoes, from its inception, right up to his death in 1982. Jim Scott served as joint Chairman and Managing Director from January1983 up to the time the Cullen and Scott families agreed to a buyout. Ironically, Bert Boswell’s son Philip, and Eamonn Fagan, were involved in the management buy-out of the Company, nearly fifty years after Philip’s father came from Northampton to help launch the factory.”
The new management continued to operate in Sarsfield Road before moving to a purpose-built premises on the Athlone Road, in 1988. However, production ceased there in 2004 but the designing, engineering, marketing and sales still operate from there. Staff numbers were reduced considerably but the name Dubarry still remains one of the town’s flagships. Jim Cullen, as he was affectionately known, was 24 years of age when he came to Ballinasloe to manage the Society Street outlet. He purchased a home in Mountpleasant in 1934, married local girl, Anne Kelly, and had a family of seven. He became a member of Ballinasloe Urban District Council for over twenty years and fought consistently to see a local person elected a TD “to fight at the Government table for more for Ballinasloe.”
In 1977, Mr. Cullen predicted “Because of the lack of political savvy on behalf of both major parties and the people of the Postal District of Ballinasloe, the town will pay a huge price for not having a local resident TD. Ballinasloe will slip back to rural obscurity and become a bedroom community, serving Athlone and to a lesser extent Galway; while Athlone would become the next Boomtown.” Not far off the mark! Leo Cullen is the youngest member of Jim and Anne. He was involved in both the Society Street and Main Street operations before emigrating to California in 1983.
By Liam Cosgrove
Marina’s Catering has been in operation for the past 9 years and was until recently run in conjunction with Downey’s Bar, Society St. Moving ahead, Marina is going to expand and develop the catering element of the business. With many years of expertise behind them, they offer customers the best quality locally sourced produce prepared by their skilled team and delivered to your venue in a highly professional manner. “We take pride in the amount of repeat business that we get so people must be happy with our service. Whether you are catering for a small party at home or a larger function at another venue we can do the job. We will help you decide what food etc. will be best suited to your occasion and your budget” explains Marina.
They supply plates and cutlery and can also supply tressel tables. The equipment is electric so there is no chance of food being cold and the bain-maries keep food in good condition for up to 3 or 4 hours-so if anybody likes second helpings it’s there. They deliver to your venue and collect the equipment the next day or earlier if you want. A varied menu from Gourmet Sandwich Selection to Canapés to Hot Finger Food to Roasts, Curries, Lasagne, salads is on hand and they also cater for special dietary requirements that your guests may have. They lavishly catered for a wedding of 120 guests in Cloghan Castle, outside Gort, and more recently at a local wedding in the couple’s home last Christmas, so they have lots of experience.... no job is too large or too small!
The easing of restrictions has given a great boost too as so many people are having small gatherings at home with maybe an outside awning - this has kept them busy since June almost every week. Downey’s Bar will be opening up in the next few weeks under new management, so keep your eyes open for more news soon!! Marina can be contacted at email@example.com or by phone or Messenger on 087 2311385. A new Website will be launched soon.
Hailing from Poolboy, people may know her parents -Tony and Teresa Dolan. Her mother’s family, the Caulfields, were also from Poolboy. Aisling Dolan grew up helping out on the farm both in Poolboy and in Ballydangan in Moore with her Dad and three brothers Brian, Darragh and David. Along with both parents working on a suckler herd farm, Tony worked in the former “Ducks” pub, which is now Venezia restaurant and Teresa, a retired nurse, also worked in Square D and the ESB. Aisling worked for over a decade with Enterprise Ireland and then Science Foundation Ireland. She joined the team at NUIG four years ago as a project manager, where she worked with researchers on funding applications. Her latest role has been with Health Innovation Hub Ireland, working with healthcare teams in public hospitals and community care to support people with ideas to improve healthcare. She also travelled and worked teaching English in Belfast, Belgium, France, Spain and Australia.
The new Senator was elected to Galway County Council in May 2019 as an independent, stood as a Fine Gael Candidate in the February Election, polling a solid 6000 first preferences and contested the Agricultural Panel for the Senate before being made one of the Taoiseach’s nominees in July of this year. “I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who gave me a vote on the ballot paper in all the elections. We have had three elections in less than 12 months and the vote we achieved in the General Election is thanks to the help of a phenomenal team and support across Roscommon & East Galway” stated Aisling. She believes the town is a fantastic strategic location on the M6 motorway, excellent rail and transport links, with over 14,000 in the hinterland and a highly educated workforce with third level graduates and business focused apprenticeships. “It is an ideal place for start-ups, small businesses expanding operations or SME’s looking for reasonable cost locations. The newly formed Pulse Club is a dynamic group driving people with new ideas and start-ups” explains Aisling. Her main priorities have always been Health, Investment & Environment, as a Councillor and now as a Senator. Her immediate focus will be to ensure our healthcare system is robust for the months ahead, facing the Covid-19 crisis and supporting healthcare teams. Also, to ensure businesses can get access to supports and finance to get back up and going.
Some projects she will help push to complete is the 50-bed unit at Portiuncula University Hospital. She will continue to work with BACD on Towns & Villages Accelerated Measure and Strand 2 funding for Ballinasloe and farming supports access to REPS 2 scheme, farm safety. She continues to work on many greenway projects throughout East Galway and Roscommon. She insists the Enhancement Scheme will be a progressive addition. “Absolutely! Now in 2020, we can lay claim to having the newest streets in Ireland! Dunlo Street is really looking fantastic and Society Street is due to be opened up shortly” states Aisling. “Remote Working Incentives / Co-Working Hubs, this is important as people are working from home or from a hub in Ballinasloe town instead of hours commuting to Galway, Limerick, Athlone or Dublin – it will add to overall quality of life if people stay local. Business Investment & Supports – Restart Grant, commercial rates waiver and to extend the Wage Subsidy Scheme in the July Stimulus package. Just Transition Fund – Ballinasloe is the main town for Shannonbridge which was recently impacted by job losses at Bord na Móna and ESB. This fund is crucial to offer other employment opportunities or reskilling for people and families impacted, these are all practical actions that I will help realise “, explains Aisling.
The importance of community has been made hugely relevant to everyone during this COVID pandemic - people who have offered help during ‘community call’ particularly our sports clubs, meals on wheels and Social Services. Along with everyone on the frontline – healthcare workers, Gardaí, An Post – delivering groceries and medications to our more vulnerable people to name but a few, we have to salute them all ! Aisling will be opening an office soon in Ballinasloe and in Roscommon town and will hold clinics throughout East Galway & South Roscommon. Please do contact her on 086 3690719, by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
By Liam Cosgrove
The Annual General Meeting of the not for profit Charitable Community Company BACD was held remotely via Zoom for the first time in its 21 year history. Based at the Enterprise Centre, the Company Chairperson Seamus Duffy and Manager, gave some very detailed reports to the online attendees, which comprised of members and general public as well as Deputy Denis Naughten, Senator Aisling Dolan and Cllr Michael Connolly on June 11th. Seamus in his report, outlined the numerous meetings, deputations, seminar attendances and follow ups they had with Galway County Council, IDA, Enterprise Ireland, The Just Transition Team, and Dept of Rural and Community Affairs. He thanked the Board and the staff of the Company for all their commitment and work on the various different projects. While there were disappointments a plenty good progress has been made on the different events and projects that were undertaken by the Board and the Town Team. He went through, in some detail, the Rural Regeneration Fund process, the St. Brigid’s Open Day, the Hidden Heartland Workshop, The Zombie Walk, The People of the Year Awards, The limited Xmas Lights Campaign and the Street Enhancement programme.
Company Manager Lyn Donnelly, reported how the core spine to the whole operation – the Enterprise and Technology Centre was supporting some 170 jobs and hosting 26 firms. She also detailed the statistics on the Life Magazine, which is now almost a cost neutral project but for the current year owing to the COVID two editions where no advertising money was collected – the subsidy would be significant on the books for next year. She also reviewed the work of the PULSE Club and the variety of events they programmed throughout the year. The Shop Local campaign morphing into the Shoponline.ie was also detailed. The Work of the Town Team under the new Co-ordinator Anita Killeen and the pop up clinics ran was explained. Company Auditor, James Coyle of Coyle and Co., gave a detailed presentation on the 12 months audited accounts showing income at €304,817 and expenses at €252,020 with the surplus being retained on the balance account for the next Capital investment project the board may consider.
Brian King, a Board Director, gave an overview on the plan he is co ordinating for the Company - Ballinasloe 2030 which is at preliminary draft stage and he is scoping inputs from a variety of stakeholders. The plan sees as its core the mission of the next development phase as one of Ballinasloe becoming a SMART town – becoming a hub for remote and hub type working. Following from the AGM and subsequent board meeting the BACD Board is constituted as follows: Only changes were the retirement of Paul Hargadon and co-option on the board of Eoghan Kenny Sean Kelly: (Credit Union), Dan Dowling: (Creagh Com Dev Council), Michael Connolly: (Galway County Council), Seamus Duffy: (Membership), Valerie Dolan: (Membership), Joe Lyons: (Membership), Kevin Broderick: (Membership), Pearse Keller: (Membership), Marina Downey: (Membership), Noel Madden: (Co-opted), John McKenna: (Co-opted), Ruth Sheridan Cregg: (Coopted), Brian King: (Co-opted), Anita Kileen: (Co-Opted), Eoghan Kenny: (Co-Opted).
Find out more about the Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre by clicking here.
Then new NWRA Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy provides a high-level development framework for the Northern and Western Region that supports the implementation of the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the relevant economic policies and objectives of Government. It provides a 12-year strategy and the identification of priority actions for Key Towns of which Ballinasloe is one just a handful selected. Key Towns are those regionally strategic employment centres of significant scale that can act as regional drivers that complement and support the higher-order urban areas within the settlement hierarchy Key future priorities listed include, revitalising the town centre and to reduce vacancies and support the vitality and vibrancy of these core shopping streets/side streets and the town centre.
Promoting the town’s heritage as an important Market town supporting the future delivery of a regularised outdoor market/farmer’s market at a suitable location. Promoting sustainable land use and transport solutions, whilst capitalising on the opportunity presented by the railway service and the M6 Motorway, so that sustainable travel, including walking and cycling, and integrated land use and transportation become central to the development of new neighbourhoods . Pages 124 and 125 set out the provisioning of a range of facilities, amenities and supporting services to serve the needs of the town, including educational, recreational, religious, social, community and civic requirements for children, youths, adults and older persons to serve a growing community.
Fostering economic development and employment creation by optimising the potential of the town’s strategic location and enhancing Ballinasloe as a place of employment through the provision of a positive and flexible framework for the creation of new employment opportunities is key. That report seeks to encourage and facilitate the sustainable development of the tourism potential of Ballinasloe and its environs in a manner that respects, builds on, protects and enhances the cultural, built and natural heritage of the town and the local amenities within the plan area including natural heritage and biodiversity. Sustainable walking and cycling routes and maximizing rail links are also identified. It is hoped that as well as being a strong priority signal to the Department of Rural and Community Affairs these ambitious plans will find practical milestones in the soon to be published County Development 2022 to 2028
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