By Peter O’Connell
A landmark building in Kilmihil has been handed over to Clare County Council and the local community.
It is now up to the local authority and the Kilmihil community to come up with ideas to best utilise the former Mangan’s building, which is located in the centre of the West Clare village.
Mangan’s moved from Kilmihil to Ennis in 1972. At one point, approximately 40 people were employed at the West Clare plant, with seven of the Kilmihil panel that reached the 1968 county final employed there.
Company director Terence Mangan said he is hopeful the building will be used to generate local employment but that it can be used for whatever purpose is deemed fit. “That’s not our decision. That’s up to the community and up to the council in terms of how they structure whatever they do. We’ve offered it to the community and to the council. Obviously, there will have to be some money put into it if anything is to be done with it,” Mr Mangan told The Clare Champion.
He is hopeful the community, which has been hit hard by emigration in recent years, will reap some benefit.
“In Kilmihil, you have an excellent secondary school but you have a situation where enormous numbers of young people have gone abroad from the area. After two or three years, there is a possibility that some of them might start thinking of settling down. One or two of them might think ‘if I had an opportunity, would I go home?’ If this proves a small incentive in making that decision, hopefully something will come for West Clare out of it. If this helps in incentivising them to make a decision that would bring them back to West Clare, that’s what we ultimately see in it,” he stated.
Clare County Council director of services, Ger Dollard, stressed the local community would have to aid the council, and other agencies, in establishing and utilising the facility.
“It will involve engagement with the local community. The initiative will only progress if there is demand and if the community and the agencies can work together. So there is a long road but this is a very positive step. If the community or the council could do it alone, great, but I don’t think, in the present climate, that anybody can do anything on their own. The success of these initiatives is about doing it in partnership. The key thing underlining it all is that there is no point in doing such a project if there is nobody in the area willing to take up that type of enterprise space. The demand has to be there,” Mr Dollard added.
“This is a very positive gesture on behalf of the Mangan family to consider handing the building over to the local community. There may be potential there for an enterprise centre or indeed for some type of sports use at the back of the building,” he suggested.
Meanwhile, Mr Mangan says Kilmihil is well situated geographically for an enterprise centre.
“Kilmihil’s location makes it an ideal base. You’re more or less equally distant from Ennis to Kilkee and from Kildysart to Miltown Malbay,” he pointed out.