The Jigsaw is coming together
The above were the words of Lough Key Forest and Activity Park manager Louise Fitzpatrick on Wednesday last following the announcement of a €75m plan for the Shannon River area that will be of great benefit to Boyle. The plan is the culmination of many years of behind the scenes work by a number of local organizations, individuals and state bodies. The fact that the Government are fully supportive and involved in the plan will see that funding will be forthcoming and actions achieved.
As outlined in our main news story on Wednesday, Boyle features prominently in the plan. Also of major significance, although not fully detailed, is the support that Waterways Ireland and Failte Ireland are giving to the yet-to-be-announced Lough Key Masterplan. This plan will feed into the Shannon Tourism Masterplan and when finalised, it is understood it will be the icing on the cake from a tourism perspective in Boyle.
For those at the coal face of the regeneration of our town and for those in the tourism business, Wednesday’s announcement is very exciting. Opportunities now abound in Boyle and the surrounding area for anyone who wants to piggy back on the enormous growth potential the Lough Key Masterplan and the Shannon Masterplan will bring. Add to this the public realm and positive changes that will happen in Boyle (as referred to in the Shannon report) once restrictions are lifted and you will see why so many are excited at what the future holds for the town.
Civic bodies in Boyle, like the Town Team and Local Authority, can set the foundations….with now being the time for budding entrepreneurs to step up to the mark and build tourism related businesses on these foundations, in advance of what is to come for Boyle. Additional cafes, coffee shops, bike hire, self catering chalets, street food stalls, water sports, walking and cycling tours, outdoor clothes shops, sports shops, bars serving food and even a hotel – the opportunities are endless here in Boyle for those who are prepared to put their best foot forward. And because we are being ‘name checked’ in so many national reports and plans, and with grant aid coming in regularly, it would indicate that the support mechanisms are in place and the dice is rolling in Boyle’s favour.
Boyle’s commercial landscape will look very different
When Boyle opens up once again and life gets back to ‘normal’, there is no doubt but that the commercial landscape of the town will look very different. The hard fact remains – certain shops may never open again in Boyle, like elsewhere throughout the country, with a resultant increase in vacant buildings. But while that is unfortunate, the cold reality is that one persons loss can be another person’s gain. One could ask the question, should certain local businesses ‘bite the bullet’ and think about becoming satellite shops for larger retailers in the same trade? Should businesses that will close, put their premises on the market and allow new businesses to open where they once traded? There are many possibilities.
The way we did business in Boyle for the last fifty years is no longer viable. The pandemic has shown that new ways of operating are needed, be that a mix of online/instore, serving food with your drink, eating outdoors or retail opening 7 days and not closing Sundays. Boyle should use the current ‘downtime’ to get prepared and be ready to hit the ground running for the new normal when businesses reopen again.
Party goers and protestors need a realty check
The scenes in Dublin on Saturday last when Gardai clashed with anti-mask/vax protestors has received widespread condemnation – and rightly so. It is utterly outrageous that members of An Garda Siochana were spat on, verbally abused and had their lives put in danger at what should have been a peaceful protest. That is totally unacceptable in any civilised society.
From a local perspective, there were a few familiar faces in the video’s of the crowd at Saturday’s march, and also at a previous march in the capital, (although it has to be said, it is understood those from Boyle and surrounding area who were present had absolutely nothing to do with the acts of violence). But the fact that these locals travelled to Dublin – well outside their 5k limit and came back to Boyle after mingling in a crowd with no mask wearing or social distancing is of major concern to many in the town. Concerning also, are the students who partied in Limerick (and Sligo) during the week, and indeed those people who party most weekends in Boyle, and who plan to hug their mothers and granny’s next week for Mother’s Day – these people need to sit up and have an urgent reality check.
Boyle bank spared the axe
Thankfully the Boyle branch of Bank of Ireland was spared the axe on Monday last when the state backed financial institution announced plans to close 103 branches nationwide. Unfortunately Elphin and Strokestown were not so lucky and they will see their branches close from this September. Bank of Ireland has given many reasons to justify the closures including the “sustained decline in the use of our branches” and “the move from cash towards digital and contactless payments”, but one could argue that it is actually the banks move away from face to face customer interaction along with the current crisis that has pushed members of the public to move to contactless payments and not visit branches, begging the question “are the planned closure’s opportunistic”?
There is no doubt the banking scene in Ireland has changed in recent years…..some would say for the worst. Decision making by management on the ground has made way for faceless people in offices many miles away who decided whither you are loan worthy or not. With less staff manning branches, little customer interaction and a push to make you use the machine instead of the counter, it was inevitable that at some stage, banks would be in a position to say there was a “sustained decline in the use of our branches”.
Many of the banking changes of the last few years were not what the customer wanted but dictated from the board room table. The Covid pandemic then came along giving the banks further fuel for the opportunity to justify the lack of branch usage with that very same line about sustained decline being used as one of the reasons for the closure of 103 branches of Bank of Ireland nationwide.
While the news is devastating for the likes of Elphin and Strokestown, Boyle Bank of Ireland branch seems safe – for the time being at least.
Traffic counters show more vehicles on the move
A glance at the TII traffic stats for the N4 between Boyle and Carrick on Shannon shows that more people are on the move once again and that traffic numbers are increasing weekly. In February, Monday 1st saw 4438 vehicles pass Usna, on Monday 8th it was 4505, Monday 15th 4727, Monday 22nd 4917 and last Monday March 1st 5104.
It was the Irish man’s first ever trip to New York.
Amazed at the size of the building’s he could not stop looking up in awe at their height as he walked past.
Glancing up at the Empire State building, and looking as Irish as ever, with his mouth open and one of his shoelaces untied, a brash young New Yorker said:
“Hey Paddy, watch out you don’t trip up over your laces.”
Paddy says, “Ah thanks…. it’s these bloody instructions.”
“What bloody instructions?” asks the New Yorker
Paddy says, “underneath the shoe…. it says ‘Taiwan’.”