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A general view of the site at Cahercon, formerly the old St. John Bosco secondary school, which will see the development of specialist infrastructure and accommodation for maritime and cruise liner related training. Photograph by John Kelly.

Major investment to revitalise Kildysart

THERE was a sense of hope and excitement in Kildysart this week, with news that €1.8 million has been allocated for the development of maritime and cruise liner-related training facilities at the disused school and convent in

It is expected that a facility will be developed offering training in all sorts of activities related to marine industries, from piloting cruise liners to catering to mechanics for ships.

Ultimately, it’s expected that private sector interests will develop the facility in the next couple of years, while a statement from Clare Deputy Pat Breen this week said that the National Maritime College of Ireland, which is based in Cork, will be central to providing the training.

When it finally does open, it will bring a certain amount of new jobs and, presumably, a significant number of trainees and students to the nearby village. Such a development will be a major boost for Kildysart, the likes of which  it has not enjoyed for many years.

On a cold and dull Tuesday afternoon, there were few people in Kildysart’s shops and around the centre of the village but there was real hope that things might soon pick up.

Speaking at his place of business, shopkeeper Donal Doohan was very positive about the new
facility. “It’s good news, anything that gets people into a place is a help. It [Cahercon] has been closed up for so long and anything that gets things going is good.”

Donal Doohan, of Doohan’s Foodstore in Kildysart, a village set to benefit when a site at Cahercon, formerly the old St. John Bosco secondary school, is developed with specialist infrastructure and accommodation for maritime and cruise liner related training. Photograph by John Kelly.


Donal went to school in Cahercon and he says that despite the wider economic recovery, Kildysart hasn’t been revitalised so far. “It’s quieter it has got; the village has got quieter. As you see out there, there’s not much happening. We’re lucky that we have the post office; there are banking facilities there. That helps keep
the place ticking over.”

Butcher Tommy Fitzgibbon was very enthusiastic also. “I’ve always loved the idea of developing something in Cahercon. People in the area would really benefit if something sustainable and long-term was developed there. Definitely, this is brilliant news.”

He said that his own turnover has declined by around 50% in the last decade but that at last there is potential for improvements.“Anything that will bring people to an area will always help. I saw the village of Tulla years ago when there was a factory there. The place used to come alive on a Friday evening.”

Butcher Tommy Fitzgibbon in his shop at Kildysart. Photograph by John Kelly.

Emer Foley was in Tommy’s shop buying meat and she was thrilled with the news. “I think it’ll be fantastic. There’s very little left with the closing down of the bank, very little left in the village. It’ll be great for local jobs, local enterprise, there will be a lot of business for the whole estuary area.”

Neily O’Connor has worked at Cahercon since 1982 and is currently acting as caretaker there for the owner. He is delighted with the new course being set out for the site. “It’s time to see something happen at this side of
the Shannon, especially at Cahercon. It’s a pity to see it closed since 2002. It’s great to see this happening. Hopefully, it’ll create employment in the area.”

Neily O Connor, who came to Cahercon on July 5th 1982 to work as a farm manager for the Salesian Sisters and continues to look after the property for the current owner. Photograph by John Kelly.


He said that past pupils love to come back and see where they went to school and they will be very pleased that the site is to be used once more.

It can spark some revitalisation in an area hit hard by emigration, he believes. “The youth of the parish have gone out foreign, just to get work. I see it in the local GAA club. My own sons are involved in it. It’s hard to get a team together because a lot of the youth have gone. This will be an incentive for people.”


Owen Ryan