Steeped in history, the picturesque village of Abbeylara and its surrounding areas have come together to form the Abbey-Carra Community Associates; a group dedicated to the launch and implementation of the Abbeylara Village and Area Enhancement Plan.
The goals outlined in the plan are simple, clear and focused. Firstly, the plan aims to make facilities within the parish more easily and safely accessible to the inhabitants and visitors.
Next, to improve the safety of local roads and junctions. The plan also aims to create a stronger sense of place and make the parish more attractive for family living.
In addition, the plan identifies the need “to realise the full value of sustainable village communities when it comes to enhancing the quality of life in rural Ireland and the importance in creating the infrastructure for tourism development”.
The plan also aims to establish a cultural resource at the heart of the community, with exhibition space, library, tourism resources and a focus for celebrating the history of parish life.
The document continues outlining its aims by stating: “To realise and develop practical solutions for the concerns of our rural older inhabitants...they have a wealth of experience, a wide range of skills and an integral knowledge of their locality”.
One key final goal is that of “Ensuring the protection and enhancement of natural and cultural heritage”.
Patricia Masterson and Denis Fahey, members of the Abbey-Carra Community Associates, presented the document to those gathered on the launch night at Abbeylara.
“We all need to work together now to keep our community going. This will build up our community spirit and make it a much better place for our parish to live in. But we need people with skills to help in achieving the objectives of our plan,” said Ms Masterson.
Fianna Fáil County Councillor PJ Reilly addressed the gathering and stated: “We are engrossed in history in our parish. We are a very fortunate rural parish in terms of history and tourism.”
Geraldine Farrell of Longford Community Resources Ltd (LCRL) congratulated the committee on all their hard work.
“The next step would be for the committee to meet with LCRL and go through the plan and see what areas would be eligible (for funding). Come in and use the development workers to your advantage,” she said.
Parish priest Fr. Michael Campbell said that now was the real test was facing the community.
“To try and get this (plan) into action. I’d like to encourage more and more people to get involved. There’s something for everyone to do. I look forward to helping out as best I can. It’s a parish responsibility and not just a committee,” he said.