There was a distinct buzz of excitement at Ballymahon library last Tuesday, as Center Parcs hosted yet another Community Open Day.
“I’m very upbeat about it [the development],” beamed local woman Carmel McCormack. “I think it’s great for Ballymahon and there has to be a spin-off effect for the town, even for the workers beforehand!”
Indeed that seemed to be the theme of the day as a steady stream of smiling locals passed through.
Brendan Quigley, who lives near Abbeyshrule, said he had attended the day “to get some idea on what the proposed development is going to look like”.
“I think it’s a good project,” he nodded. “I think it’s going to add to the midlands as a tourist area, because generally, the midlands tends to be overlooked in promoting tourism.”
Sean Delaney, along with Philip and Val Murrell attended the previous Open Day, and all three agreed that it was a great move for Ballymahon.
“It might not benefit us,” Val stated, “but it’ll benefit the young people.”
It wasn’t just members of the local public who were delighted with the event. The Center Parcs team, too, felt that the day was a resounding success.
The second such event hosted by the firm, it allowed locals to see the developments that had been made since the last meeting in May.
Simon Kay, PR Manager for Center Parcs pointed out that the day was “very much about the local community and our thoughts on where we are.”
The Open Days are an important part of the development, according to Simon, who added, “We’re a UK-based company and we don’t want to be just seen flying in and flying out again.
“We intend to be a part of this community for a long time.”
Center Parcs CEO Martin Dalby cut a jovial figure as he chatted with all interested parties.
“I think it’s been a really great day for Center Parcs in Ballymahon,” he grinned, alluding to the general feeling in the room.
“It’s a very lovely atmosphere, people are buzzing. It will change the whole area!”
Revealing that the company had had a positive and productive meeting earlier in the day with those who live around Newcastle Wood, Mr Dalby outlined the importance of maintaining their contact with local people.
“I think if you don’t keep on both talking to people but also listening to people, speculation can build up,” he explained, adding that they had been visiting Ballymahon fairly frequently.
“We’re very open and honest people and I think that’s really important,” he said. “We’ll be here for many, many, many years to come and that makes us part of the community.”
Center Parcs looks set to return to the county for another Open Day in September, by which time they hope to reveal designs and drawings of the proposed €200 million holiday village.