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Photograph by Eamon Ward

Carron connection goes live at Michael Cusack Centre

HIGH-SPEED broadband, hot desk and video conferencing facilities are now available at the Michael Cusack Centre in Carron.

The initiative was driven by Clare County Council, in partnership with the centre operators and the government. The Broadband Connection Point (BCP) was provided under the National Broadband Plan, and was officially opened as The Cusack Hub and Broadband Connection Point.

The new digital hub facility, which is part of the local authority’s DigiClare.ie initiative, will support rural social enterprises and the wider community by providing flexible, affordable hot desks, video conferencing and printing facilities, all supported by high-speed broadband.

The facilities at the hub will be made available to all members of the community who have a requirement to access these services, such as those working remotely and students who require access to third-level course material online.

Groups and organisations in the area will also be able to use the facilities for community purposes, such as meetings and presentations.

The BCP initiative is a collaborative effort involving the Department of Rural and Community Development, the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, local authorities and the owners and managers of the BCP sites.

The initiative was established to ensure remote areas, particularly those that are likely to wait longest for connections, are provided with some access to high-speed broadband while waiting for the National Broadband Plan roll-out to reach them.

In line with Covid-19 restrictions, the official launch of the Cusack Hub took place virtually earlier this month, and was addressed by the Mayor of Clare, Councillor Mary Howard; Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council; Flan Garvey, Chairperson of the centre; Dr Stjohn O’Connor, Principal Officer at the Department of Rural and Community Development; and Urban McMahon, Head of IS – Digital Transformation and Broadband at Clare County Council.

“It is striking today that we are talking about broadband and digital in the heart of the Burren at the homestead of Michael Cusack, GAA founder,” said Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council. “The opening of the Cusack Hub brings a welcome new resource to the local community and will support rural social enterprises in the area. The addition of another facility to the network of digital hubs in County Clare underscores our commitment to supporting rural, community and economic development. Utilising broadband and digital technology is a key enabler of rural development. Covid-19 has changed how we work, study and interact, and the value of the DigiClare.ie network has been evident this year as a critical piece of our technology infrastructure.”

Flan Garvey, chairperson of the centre added, “The opening of the Cusack Hub at the Michael Cusack Centre in Carron, home of the founder of the GAA, is a very proud day for the Centre and is a great tribute to Michael Cusack and his vision. The Cusack Hub is an excellent example of a local tourism community group working in partnership with Clare County Council to help people during these challenging times to access state-of-the-art digital facilities and to help students with their studies and enable people to consider working remotely, or to start or grow their business from the hub. The Michael Cusack Centre in Carron is situated in the award-winning Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark and is an active member of the Burren Ecotourism Network, which was recently chosen by Lonely Planet as one of the world’s top 30 places, people and tourism projects for 2021.”

Urban McMahon, Head of IS – Digital Transformation and Broadband, Clare County Council, said that jobs and employment are a key focus of the 10-year Clare Rural Development Strategy. “Modern broadband connectivity is being made available to support those considering enterprise or interested in enhancing their skills or returning to work, training, education or learning,” he said. “These opportunities will benefit residents and add to the attractiveness of rural Clare for those who wish to work or re-settle here.”

The new Cusack Hub is one of six digital hubs that are being provided under Clare County Council’s DigiClare.ie initiative, with the others located in Ennistymon, Kilrush, Kilkee, Miltown Malbay and Feakle.

More information on Clare’s digital hubs is available on Digiclare.ie.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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