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Parnell St business owners at the launch, from left to right are: Monica Keane, Laura Phelan, Yvonne Butler, Sally Smith and Christina Doohan

Parnell Street in the frame for Canvas Project launch

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AN ambitious plan aimed at rejuvenating Ennis’ town centre was given the star treatment at its recent launch. The Canvas Project, led by Experience Ennis, has a vision to aesthetically transform the entire town of Ennis, street by street, making it an even more attractive place to live and visit.

The project was launched with a presentation of the Parnell Street Pilot on the big screen in Ennis’s Empire Movieplex last week.

The team seeks to maximise the impact of the rejuvenation plans by concentrating initially on one section of the Parnell Street; the pedestrianised stretch between Dallas Barbers and Bonfire restaurant.

This street having undergone a recent public realm investment of €6 million euros has a beautifully paved surface that provides the perfect canvas for rejuvenation, and, when completed it is anticipated this postcard perfect street will become the launching pad for the delivery of a much larger scale vision for Ennis, explains Rosemarie Noone CEO of Experience Ennis.

The audience on the night of the launch watched a short film produced by Alisson Rocha, the Marketing Manager at Experience Ennis. The nostalgic reel featured interviews with local people, historians and visiting artists. This was followed by a detailed presentation of the street design.

Over the past number of months, the project team at Experience Ennis has worked with designer Ed Fitzgerald on the development of a proposal for the new streetscape. The London based designer, originally from Tipperary, has extensive international experience having previously worked on retail parks such as Bicester Village in the UK as well as Kildare Village. He furthermore has a longstanding connection with Ennis, having begun his career as a visual merchandiser working with prominent Ennis retailers such as, Patrick Bourke, Willow and the County Boutique.

Parnell Street stakeholders were invited to give their feedback on the proposed new streetscape. The design includes a physical plan for façade painting, hand-painted signage, street furniture and planting. It also proposes a commercial plan for attracting more footfall to the street. The Unique Selling Point of the proposed design is the cultivation of arts and cultural activity on the street. As well as celebrating culture, the design seeks to bring to life the history of Parnell Street and the team has worked closely with local Historian, Dr. Jane O’Brien of Ennis Walking Tours to ensure that the rich heritage of Parnell Street is expressed throughout the project.

The palette suggested by the designer is inspired by the native colours of County Clare and is sympathetic to the character of the street. It is enlivened with bursts of colour through contemporary art installations, flowers, signage and lighting.

Following the presentation Ms Noone interviewed Dundalk Town Centre Manager, Martin McElligot who shared Dundalk’s journey of town centre rejuvenation. In 2018, Dundalk began a façade project similar to the Ennis Canvas now being undertaken by Experience Ennis. McElligot also founded Seek Urban Arts Festival, which has led to the proliferation of world class murals throughout the gables and laneways of Dundalk. While very encouraging and enthusiastic, he also shared the challenges, and mistakes made along the way. The town centre manager worked closely with Louth County Council and described the positive impact of the work on the wider Dundalk community.

Following the interview with Martin McElligot was a presentation from Stephen Middleton, Specification Manager at Colour Trend. Colourtrend is an Irish owned family business which is almost 70 years old. The paint company, headquartered in Dundalk has supported numerous town centre rejuvenation projects and Experience Ennis plans to partner with Colourtrend, through the local paint shops, on the development of the Ennis Canvas project.

The team at Experience Ennis will continue to engage with all of the Parnell Street stakeholders including traders, businesses and residents of the area over the next few months. It is a multifaceted high budget project and as such it will be phased and underpinned by a robust fundraising strategy, designed by the fundraising subcommittee of Experience Ennis. It is hoped that Phase 1 of the project will be delivered this summer.

Speaking at the event Rosemarie Noone said, “We’ve been so heartened by the goodwill and support of this project from the local community so far and are so excited to bring the Parnell St. Pilot to the next step. Experience Ennis is an organisation whose vision is to inspire our community and visitors to love our town, our people and our culture. The pillars of that vision are; Culture; Community; Aesthetic Impact; Business and Sustainability. And the Canvas Project crosses all of these priorities with a particular focus on aesthetic impact.”

Experience Ennis is a private company limited by guarantee. It is a cross-sectoral organisation representing people throughout Ennis community including local business people, corporates, Ennis Municipal District and Clare County Council. The board of Experience Ennis is chaired by Ennis entrepreneur, Brian Crowley who part funds the organisation, along with other Ennis private donors and Clare County Council. Ennis native, Brian Crowley owns TTM Healthcare and Resilience which are both headquartered in the Ballymaley Business Park. The board of Experience Ennis also includes; Allen Fynn owner of the Old Ground Hotel; Sean Lally part owner of The Woodstock Hotel; Paula McDonnell CEO of TTM Healthcare; Helen Walsh, County Librarian; Elaine Kerrigan, financial controller in TTM; Leonore O’Neill, Ennis Municipal District; Councillor Mary Howard; Mayor of Ennis, Clare Colleran Molloy; and Jean McCabe owner of Willow Boutique.

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