The Granard Area Action Group was originally set up almost 25 years ago in 1995 and has since become a focal point of the local community and surrounding areas.
The main aim of the group is to help those in long-term unemployment find work, while also upskilling them in the process. They do this by offering part-time employment as part of a Community employment scheme, sponsoring a range of community-run projects and initiatives to help enhance both the lives of those involved and the local communities in which they operate.
“To run a community employment scheme, you have to have a sponsor and the Granard area action group were good enough at that stage to be the sponsor,” Joe Murphy, CE scheme supervisor, told the Leader.
The group now cover Granard, Abbeylara, Mullinalaghta, and Bunlahy areas, and currently have a total of 32 participants within their ranks on the community employment scheme.
Joe stated: “We have thirty two participants. I am the supervisor on it and Michelle Ledwith is the assistant supervisor. She runs the office side of things.
“We have four participants in Abbeylara, four in Bunlahy, five in Mullinalaghta, and we then have people involved in Rath Mhuire and the Dolmen resource services.
“We also have five people in Lus na Gréine family resource centre in Granard,” Joe continued.
Participants offer a variety of services to the locality, supporting initiatives such as the Dolmen and Rathmhuire resource services. Having first become involved with FAS in 1996 as sponsors of Community employment projects, the group has contributed to a number of projects down through the years, such as the revival of the Granard Buttermarket, the restoration of St Joseph’s Hill, the development of the Peace Park in Mullinalaghta and the development of Derrycasson Woods, to name a few.
CE scheme supervisor Joe Murphy explained: “We take part in village enhancements initiatives. We do a lot of work for the Tidy Towns committee in Granard.
“We do all the flowers and the green open spaces. We would do the same in Abbeylara, Bunlahy and Mullinalaghta too.
“There are a few projects we would have been involved in over the years in conjunction with the Tidy Towns. We have done quite a bit to enhance different spaces around the towns and areas, by putting in pavements, flower beds and landscaping different areas.”
As mentioned, the sole focus of the group is to not only improve local communities, but also the lives of participants to help them in life going forward.
Joe said: “A lot of it is based around training too. We get a certain budget for training of participants and we organise different training courses for participants.
“We get a tutor in, get as many people as are interested together, and run a training course over a number of weeks.
“What we do in the area is leave something behind for the community, as well as training people too.”
As well as employing a number of people locally, the group also operate an information centre at their office on Main Street in Granard, which not only provides information but also offers a range of different services such as CV preparation and photocopying. They also offer Outreach services such as Citizens information and their office also acts as a hub for the rural local link.
Joe explained: “We act as a hub for the Local Link bus on a Friday.
“We are the main depot in this area that provides this service.”
Although having become a central figure to life in Granard, Mullinalaghta, Abbeylara and Bunlahy since its foundation almost 25 years ago, the group face their own share of difficulties, such as rising insurance costs which are putting groups like the Granard Area action group under threat. Another problem which has arisen in recent years, is the decrease in the material grant offered. The group, however, wished to thank the Department of Social Protection for their continued support, most notably Tony Kemple and Susan from the Longford branch.
“The Department of Social Protection fund us. They provide funding for wages and there is a material grant as well,” Joe explained to the Leader.
“One of the big issues we have faced is the material grant, which was around €20. That has been cut in the last few years to €12.
“Insurance costs and all other costs are rising. Groups are finding it very hard at the minute to keep going.”
With this in mind, the group consistently host a number of fundraising events throughout the course of the year, such as the bonus ball carried out every week and a recent classic movie night held in the local hall. One such event is an upcoming fundraiser table quiz which takes place in Fay’s pub, Granard, this coming Friday, September 27, kicking off at 9pm sharp.
“You have to always be thinking of little things like this to do,” said Joe.
“It is just getting harder and harder for schemes to keep going.”
The price per team for the table quiz on Friday is set at €40 for a table of four. Following the completion of the quiz a raffle will be held, with all prizes donated by local businesses. Without this ‘amazing support’ Joe says the group would struggle to survive and he thanked everyone who has helped out over the years, before calling for their help once more .
“All of the local businesses have kindly donated loads of spot prizes. If any other businesses want to donate any prizes, please get in touch with the group via our Facebook page.
“Any other support would be greatly appreciated.”
He added:“When people in these various areas see the bit of work going on, they have no problem supporting us.
“We would like to thank all of the businesses in the locality who have supported us so far and we look forward to seeing everybody on Friday night.”
If you would like to get involved with the Granard Area action group you can contact them on Facebook or alternatively, you can contact Joe on 043-6686922.