Suffering from unemployment and emigration of its young people, the community of East Clare has not been immune to the effects of the economic downturn, but a newly formed group is aiming to tackle this issue head on.
Rather than accepting continued austerity, the newly-formed East Clare Development group, chaired by Sean Bugler, has set itself the objective of developing a sustainable, prosperous and vibrant future for East Clare.
One of the objectives of the group is to put together a development plan. With this in mind three sub-committees were established to focus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Farming and Developing a Unique Tourist Experience.
Their work will include developing initiatives to create, support and encourage local employment opportunities to give young people the option to live and work in their own community.
“Farming has been important in the past to East Clare and will equally be important into the future and this sub-group will work on driving initiatives that support sustainable farming in the context of Food Harvest 2020 for this area,” Joan Crotty of the development committee said.
The third sub-group will work to integrate and package a unique tourist experience for visitors to the area.
The group are being supported by Teagasc, one of the leading research organisations in Agri-Food and Rural Affairs. A presentation was made recently by the group to David Meredith, senior research officer with Teagasc, Brendan Heneghan, Teagasc regional director for Clare/Galway and to Dr Jim Kinsella, head of agribusiness and rural development from UCD.
“David Meredith was happy with the progress made to date, the vision for the future and the willingness to proactively shape the future of East Clare. It was agreed that a road show to share the message and mobilise communities from Tulla to Killaloe and the surrounding areas was necessary to build momentum behind the initiative,” Joan explained.
“This is an unimaginable opportunity for East Clare, to have Teagasc working on the ground with us,” Michael McGrath, a member of the East Clare Development group said.
“Our location between Sliabh Aughtys and Lough Derg, our pristine environment, our precious culture and traditions, with farming being central to the way we have lived in the past and the way we intend to shape our future, will allow us to be unique and offer something different to sustain us into the future,” he added.
Through a successful partnership with Teagasc, the group has secured two research students that will focus on East Clare. Michael Kelly, a UCD masters student undertaking the MAgrSc innovation support programme has already started a research project looking at agricultural renewal and development in East Clare in the context of Food harvest 2020.
In addition, in September 2013, a Walsh Fellowship research project will commence, focusing on working with the community to create a development plan for East Clare.
The development group is also obtaining significant support from Clare Local Development Company (CLDC) in promoting and delivering enterprise, rural and community development and are actively working with the group.
The group is also working with the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA), established by the Minister for Environment, Communities and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, which aims to develop a job creation strategy for Rural Ireland.
As part of a public consultation programme, Pat Spillane will chair a meeting on April 17 in Scariff on the future economic potential of rural Ireland and how best to channel funding and resources between 2013 and 2025 in the context of East Clare.
“The aim of this meeting is to engage with a wide range of people, individuals, businesses and organisations that are interested in the future economic development of rural areas. It will also aim to generate new business ideas with the local community,” Joan explained.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the committee’s work or anyone who has a potential business idea is invited to come along to the Jobs Initiative on April 17. Information sessions will also be held by East Clare Development over the coming weeks and months.