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011218 Construction work beside the playground in Feakle village.pic Arthur Ellis.

2018 REVIEW: Development to the Fore in East Clare

EAST Clare has benefited from a number of new developments this past year, with working beginning on a new social housing scheme in Feakle, Tulla has a new car park at Cnoc na Gaoithe, and that facility is also set to benefit from further development arising from the announcement of funding.

Work began on a new Clare County Council social housing development comprising 13 homes in Feakle this year.

Funded by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government under the Rebuilding Ireland Programme, the scheme is the first social housing development in Feakle since 1973.

The development, when finished will consist of a mix of two-bed and three-bed units in a range of single and two storey houses, has gone through extensive public and department consultation and includes a new pedestrian way linking the main street to the school and playground.

The project is being delivered by Custy Construction Ltd and will see the addition of a link between the Main Street, playground and school which will enhance the village amenity.

The Feakle scheme will provide housing for families and elderly tenants enabling them to live in close proximity to the village and amenities.

Meanwhile in Tulla the Cnoc na Gaoithe Comhaltas Cultural Centre in Tulla received a huge funding boost this year as it secured the maximum grant of €200,000 under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme 2018/2019. This is administered by Clare County Council, and funded by the Department of Rural and Community Affairs.

Breda McNamara Cathaoirleach of Cnoc na Gaoithe Comhaltas Cultural Centre outlined that they have been renovating the former Convent of Mercy building in Tulla since 2012 developing it to a point where the cultural centre is now a thriving school of music and dance, with an archive and museum in the ground floor.

“In May 2018 we completed the renovation of the first floor with the aid of a grant of €100,000 from the town and village renewal scheme 2017/18. With the aid of this grant and matching funding from the J.P McManus Benevolent Fund, we now provide top class accommodation with en-suite room’s bedrooms with kitchenette and sitting room facility. This completed the restoration of this listed building of historic and conservation value in the centre of the village of Tulla,” she explained.

Now that visitors are using Cnoc na Gaoithe, additional needs needed to be met and so the centre looked to provide a tea-room facility giving visitors a self catering option.

“We were delighted to receive the maximum grant of €200,000 under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme this year. This will enable us to build an extension at the rear of the centre which will include a tea-room with kitchen facilities and additional performance space,” Ms McNamara continued.

The inclusion of seated tea-room with performance space provides for supper and show evenings during the peak summer season for tourists.

The extension will also include a laundry room and additional storage.

It is hoped that new facilities will be ready for the 2019 summer season.

Also at the same site a new car parking facility was opened in Tulla to address a lack of parking and to ease traffic congestion in the village.

The free facility provides parking for up to 20 cars and has a disabled parking space.

Since the car park was provided, local Councillor Joe Cooney said, “It has been a major asset to the town of Tulla. It has helped in a big way alleviate the parking concerns in the town. There is great use being made of it and the business people and people working long-term in Tulla now have somewhere convenient in the centre of town to park”.

There was exciting news for the village of Tuamgraney too as it was identified as a signature discovery point in the Fáilte Ireland, Hidden Heartlands brand.

This was identified as part of a community, tourism and cultural development study for the village, which was commissioned by the Tuamgraney Tourism Working Group and funded by Clare County Council. This study identified four tourism products for the village. These were to conserve and enhance St Cronan’s Church; to expand and enhance the Parish House as a community, cultural and visitor hub for Tuamgraney; to explore the potential development of a National Handball Museum / experience, as well as exploring the restoration of Tuamgraney Castle to allow access for visitors.

In addition to the new social housing project, a digital hub also opened in Feakle in March. The aim of the hub is to support rural social enterprises and the wider community by providing flexible, affordable hot desks, co-working, conference and training facilities. The digital hub forms part of the council’s DigiClare.ie initiative, and was one of three launched this year, the others are in Kilrush and Miltown Malbay.

About Carol Byrne

Carol Byrne is a reporter at The Clare Champion newspaper reporting on news in the East Clare area and the arts. She also covers the courts in County Clare and has received seven national awards for this coverage from the Law Society of Ireland and a National Lottery Local Ireland national media award for Best Community Story 2019. A Masters in Journalism graduate of NUI Galway, she also holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Limerick in Music and Media Studies, and a Higher Diploma in Irish Legal Studies. She began her career interning at The Limerick Leader and Clare FM, before taking up a full time post at The Clare Champion in 2006.

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