By Declan Varley, Galway Advertiser
MANY communities around the country are busy trying to reinvent themselves, to turn the spotlight on their own attributes in a bid to show people just how much they have to offer. Such an approach was key to battling the effects of the downturn in the economy and it was an approach that has borne fruit in many communities. Claregalway is one such village which is successfully marketing itself as a great place to live, to play in, to work in, to get married in, and to do business in.
And now after a successful season on the sporting front, pride in Claregalway has never been higher. The success of the Intermediate team in winning the county title and going on to the Connacht Final has built belief that the best is yet to come from the village sports teams. In a year in which the Cregmore/Claregalway FC won a national FAI Cup at U-14 level after a thrilling match at Eamonn Deacy Park; A year after Compantas Lir won the All-Ireland drama title, there is a renewed spirit that the name of the village will be heard far and wide on many fronts. No longer will Claregalway be just a byword for traffic congestion.
The promotion of the village as a wedding village has reaped dividends for wedding business suppliers in the area, such as hotels, beauty salons, musicians. The availability of prime business premises in the village is also making it an attractive place for companies to base themselves in, and a Claregalway Development Association is currently making plans for ensuring that the village does not lack the necessary facilities to prosper in the years ahead.
Almost 100 businesses are based in the Claregalway area, all of them creating employment and sustaining the vibrance of the village.
The development and success of Coláiste Bhaile Chláir has also been a boon to the community and the college has played a major part in creating an economic boost for existing and potential businesses and adding to the vibrancy of the locality.
The recent redevelopment of Claregalway Castle has also proven a major attraction in the village, with its annual garden festivals, and now at this time of the year, becoming Castle Christmas.
The development of the new bridge in the village and the refurbishment of the area around the old arches were events that happened out of adversity, caused by the high floods of some years ago, but they have helped modernise and refurbish the northern entrance to Claregalway.
So Claregalway is a happening place – where the spirit is very much in keeping with the Advertiser’s Buy Local ethos which states that by keeping your business in your community, you will be keeping your community in business.
Whether it is in the villages of the county, or the larger towns, or the city itself, it is important that we all play our role in helping our local communities to survive and to prosper. We all have spending power, whether large or small, and it our economic future, and that of our families, our friends, and our neighbours on whom our spending will impact directly. So let us take the opportunity to support each other, to promote our communities and to spend locally, which will ultimately be to the benefit of us all.
Think about this: When you are looking for a summer job for your child, it is to the local shop you go; when you are fundraising for a new kit for the soccer club,you target the local businesses. It is the new businesses which are willing to support the local enterprises, so it is only fitting that we as consumers repay some of that loyalty by shopping locally and doing our business in the community around us.
Claregalway has taken a look inwards and seen what it has got, and now it is time to tell everyone about this. Now is the time to support local vibrant communities so that the fabric of the national economy can be rebuilt in a more inclusive and fulfilling way. It is up to us all to support them.