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Brian Clinton and Ruth Solan with Max and Bodhi being welcomed to Ballynacally village as the first tenants in the newly renovated Range cottages by Liam Kirwan of Ballynacally Development Association. Photograph by John Kelly

Community work is driving tourism to Clare estuary village

TOURISM is on the crest of a wave in Ballynacally village following the opening of the Estuary Way Café and two self-catering apartments thanks to the hard work of the local development association.
The “Range” as it was known locally is a terrace of four cottages in the heart of Ballynacally village and it has undergone a long journey that last week saw the self-catering cottages welcome their first paying guests.
The cottages were originally built by local landlords, the Ball family, for their workers.
In their heyday the cottages were occupied by shoemakers, saddlers and butchers and local characters.
In more recent times the cottages were occupied by St Francis Credit Union and the HSE, plus local enterprises such as a Montessori school and physical therapy centre.
The recession in the late nineties saw the end of these tenancies and the cottages fell into disrepair.
The Ballynacally Development Association (BDA) started a four-year journey that culminated in the opening of the new café in July 2020, which has grown in popularity, attracting people from far and wide.
Now, the two self-catering cottages have added to the village’s attractions.
Treasurer, Patricia Meaney stated that music sessions, outdoor dining and a newly refurbished playground make the village a very attractive stop on the new Shannon Estuary Way route.
“Funding for these projects was critical to their success and the Development Association were successful in sourcing funding from the Town and Village Renewal Scheme 2018 & 2020 to complete the project.
“Funding was also received from Leader towards the cost of equipment for the café.”
She thanked everyone who volunteered their time and expertise and those who supported their fundraising ventures.
Chairman, Liam Kirwan described this new community development as a “dream come true”, which was achieved by a very hard working committee that stuck to its task.
“At times it was one step forward and two steps back but commitment and perseverance and determination won the day.
“The main driving force for us was encouragement from the community in the form of appraisal and positive comments and responses as the project was advancing.”
He thanked public representatives, in particular Deputy Joe Carey and Councillor P J Kelly, as well as Clare County Council staff for all their help and support.
Bernie Kirwan said she was delighted when the association asked her to get involved as a community volunteer in the interior design and fit out of the cottages.
“It was a fantastic project for me, allowing me to use my creativity and skills while planning, sourcing furniture and fittings, upcycling, upholstering, breathing new life back into these beautiful historic buildings until I was happy with their function and aesthetic appeal.
“I applaud the association for their foresight, vision, hard work and their huge achievement in fundraising, applying for grants, dealing with architects, builders, electricians, plumbers etc. until they achieved their goal, restoring these cottages into two beautiful holiday homes. They are a fantastic asset to the village.”
BDA member, Fr Brendan Kyne said he is delighted to see these two cottages open after years of hard work.
“The association hope the cottages will enhance the village, generate some income to upgrade other facilities in the community and encourage visitors to stay longer to get to know the place and the people.
“We are located right on the Shannon Estuary Way with many unique places of interest along the route, many of which are still not fully discovered.”
Development association public relations officer, Teresa O’Shea described the provision of two cottages as the epitome of progress for the community.
She said it is wonderful to be able to invite family and friends to come and stay nearby in a newly refurbished building with modern comforts and with a café, a playground and a beautiful green area literally on their doorstep.
“Ballynacally is no longer just a quaint little village to pass through on one’s way to another destination.
“It is now well and truly the perfect destination, in its own right, to holiday in. The village stands out proudly on the map along the majestic Shannon Estuary Way,” she said.

By Dan Danaher

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