The development of a 15 acre site to be used as a major tourist hub for North Longford area has taken a step closer to becoming a reality.
Granard Community Enterprise Ltd, the company set up to acquire the site adjacent to the Motte, held a feasibility study launch last week which attracted more than one hundred people.
The study, launched by former Bishop Colm O’Reilly was widely welcomed by a community that is intent on addressing social difficulties by taking action themselves.
Eileen Finan, Coordinator of Lus na Gréine Family Resource Centre Granard, outlined that in the last 18 months a lot of work had been done on the venture.
“The prospect of this project coming to fruition is thanks to the voluntary management committee headed by Sean Kilbride.”
Fr Simon Cadam commented, “This is a wonderful community, we now have to work together to make this a reality.”
The feasibility study was carried out by EXODEA Europe Consulting Ltd and Dr O’Reilly said: “It has been 44 years since I left the parish of Granard. I look back on the nine years I was here with great satisfaction. This is an excellent project and I am very pleased that it is going ahead.”
Dr Senan Cooke, secretary of the recently formed all Ireland organisation, Communities Creating Jobs (CCJ) outlined the efforts that his local community had made to establish community initiatives to help themselves. He told of his own experience of setting up a voluntary run Geo park in the Waterford area.
Dr Cooke said: “There is no end to what a community can achieve when they work together. We have to build self reliant communities.”
Committee Treasurer Padraig McNamara outlined that €65,000 had been raised by the community so far. This comprised of €37,000 in the 500 Draw, €18,000 from the Granada Festival that was hosted as part of the Gathering and a €10,000 interest free loan. He added that confirmation of a €175,000 loan from Bank of Ireland meant they can officially acquire the site from NAMA for just over €260,000.
Bartel Darcy of Directing Tourism remarked, “There is no other Norman site of this kind developed in Ireland. You can make Granard a centre of tourism.”
Longford EDI Board of Management, Pat Kelleher, commended Granard Community Enterprise Ltd on their plan but stressed, “There are hills yet to climb and when they are climbed there will be more hills to follow.”
The project dates back to May 2012 when a decision was made to purchase a Granard town property being sold by NAMA, including two commercial buildings on 15 acres.
Granard Motte Community Enterprise Ltd was set up to assess the feasibility of the project and the committee will continue their fundraising endeavours to develop the plan that will have huge economic implications for the area.