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Thurles Tidy Towns Competition Results 2019

Liberty Pharmacy, No 34 Liberty Square, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Congratulations to those who took the time, in 2019, to tidy up our town each day, be they the voluntary members of Thurles Tidy towns (Refresh Thurles); Residence Associations; Council Workers; Thurles Men’s Sheds, Scouts, Schools or just that ‘Solitary Resident’; latter who demonstrated singular civic pride in their home; their garden or their business premises.

The only business premises highlighted favourably in the Thurles 2019 report was Liberty Pharmacy, not surprisingly, (Kate Kennedy Prop., see picture on left, her premises also the recent winner of an AIB Retail Excellence Award). For those complaining about lack of footfall to businesses on Liberty Square; here must surely be the perfect example on how to achieve same.

The ruin that once boasted being the Munster Hotel, (thank God judges did not view it from the rear); a so-called ‘Mural’, (Quote from report; “with all due respect there are parts of the mural that look as if they were done by a graffiti artist”), and a house on Mitchell Street, all met, correctly, with unfavourable comments, as did some of our would-be politicians and local councillors, latter who failed to refrain from sticking up photoshopped posters, during local elections.

To the many individuals, local councillors, elected politicians and the numerous organisations who failed to become involved to assist in revitalising our town; please do feel free to blush, to experience total embarrassment, accompanied by no little shame.

Do begin to realise, please, that the world’s 7.6 billion living humans actually only represent 0.01% of all living things. Yet, since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has brought about the loss of over 83% of all wild mammals and half of our now devoid plant life. Farmed poultry now makes up 70% of the existing bird life on our planet, with only 30% of once wild bird life left to run free. Some 60% of all mammals on our earth are livestock, mostly cattle, sheep and pigs; 36% are humans and a mere 4%, and reducing, are animals living in the wild.

Time now to ditch our shame and resolve, in this coming year, to genuinely repent and attempt to repair the severe damage caused by our deliberate neglect and greed, especially in “our neck of the woods” Tipperary; while we still have a place to pass on to future generations.

The most recent Thurles Tidy Towns report (2019) makes for sad, depressive reading. It is imperative that our followers / readers do click HERE and read the 2019 report and more importantly, read between the lines.

Having read this 2019 adjudicator’s report, latter which attempts to bear all the attributes associated with the understanding; gentleness; helpfulness and neighbourliness of adjudicators; rather than their being outright and critical of our obvious neglect, greed and inability as a community; let us now look at the marking sheets for Thurles Tidy Towns over the past five years, inclusive, beginning in 2015 and displayed hereunder.

CentreThurles: CountyTipperary (North): CategoryE: Ref 627

While each of the reports hereunder, demonstrates judging criteria; e.g. Planning and Involvement; Streetscape & Public Places; Green Spaces and Landscaping; Localised Nature and Biodiversity; Sustainability; Tidiness and Litter Control; Streets & Housing Areas; Approach Roads, and finally, Streets & Lanes; we are going to examine the marks allocated under ‘Tidiness and Litter Control’ and ‘Sustainability’. Yes, in each case just one mark has been allocated each year, in the sad hope that our community will feel enthusiastic and empowered to reach greater heights in the years ahead.

Thurles Tidy Towns Results in 2015.

Overall Marks 280; Tidiness and Litter Control – Marks 52; Sustainability – Marks 14.

Thurles Tidy Towns Results in 2016.

Overall Marks 285; Tidiness and Litter Control – Marks 53; Sustainability – Marks 15.

Thurles Tidy Towns Results in 2017.

Overall Marks 293; Tidiness and Litter Control – Marks 54; Sustainability – Marks 16.

Thurles Tidy Towns Results in 2018.

Overall Marks 298. Tidiness and Litter Control – Marks 55; Sustainability – Marks 17.

Thurles Tidy Towns Results in 2019.

Overall Marks 306. Tidiness and Litter Control Marks 56. Sustainability – Marks 18.

While Thurles received 306 marks this year (2019); two other towns in North Tipperary, each in the same category (E), have now jumped well ahead on the judges marking sheet, with Roscrea achieving 322 marks, followed by Nenagh achieving 321 marks.

Nevertheless, other villages and towns in Tipperary, not surprisingly, did achieved high accolades, with Birdhill Tidy Towns (North Tipperary) joint winners of the Tree Project Award; with Ballyboy (North Tipperary) and Gortnahoe (South Tipperary) picking up Endeavour Awards.

In the ‘Waters and Communities‘ category, it was Lattin (South Tipperary) who took the honours, while Terryglass (North Tipperary) took the national honours in Category A.

Gold Award winners in Tipperary were Terryglass, Emly, Kilsheelan and Clonmel; with Silver Award winners being Birdhill and Silvermines. The towns of Cahir, Roscrea and Nenagh all won Bronze Awards.

Surely, these results relate something, as regards our failures in developing community effort here in Thurles.

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Holycross, Thurles – Solemn Novena 2019

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”St. Matthew Chapter 11: Verse 28.

The annual Solemn Novena in honour of Our Lady of Perpetual Help will commence in the 800-year-old Cistercian Abbey of Holycross, near Thurles, Co. Tipperary from Sunday next, September 8th 2019, until Monday September 16th 2019.

A veritable swarm of much appreciated colleagues, latter in the form of Stewards, Caterers, Musicians, Vocalists, Eucharistic Ministers, Gardaí, Clergy etc. have been drafted in to assist and organise this year’s enormous annual event, which will see over 70,000 people pass down the Abbey’s ancient isles, during this eight day ecclesiastical event.

Times Of Devotions and Mass

Weekdays:- Each Weekday Devotions and Mass will be held at 7:00am, 10:30am, 4:30pm, 7:30pm and 9:30pm.
Sundays:- On Sundays at 7:00am, 10:30am, 12:30pm, 7:30pm & 9:30pm.

Extra Sessions:
Friday September 13th – Penitential Rite at 7.30pm & 9.30pm.
Saturday September 14th – Anointing of the Sick at 2:00pm.
Sunday September 15th – Blessing of Infants at 2.30pm.

Confessions will take place throughout each weekday.

As part of their commitment to public service broadcasting, Tipp Mid-West Community Radio has announced that they will provide live broadcasts each day, from the Holycross Abbey Novena.

Dates and times of Radio broadcasts from the Holycross Abbey Novena are as follows.

Sunday, 8th September – 7.30p.m.
Monday, 9th September – 7.30p.m.
Tuesday, 10t September – 7.30p.m.
Wednesday, 11th September – 7.30p.m.
Thursday, 12th September – 7.30p.m.
Friday, 13th September – 4:30p.m.
Saturday, 14th September – 2:00p.m. (Anointing of the Sick)
Sunday, 15th September – 7.30p.m.
Monday, 16th September – 7.30p.m.

[ Note:- Tipperary Mid West Community Radio Station can be accessed on wavelengths 104.8fm, 106.7fm and online.]

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Borrisoleigh Festival Begins This Weekend

Borrisoleigh Festival July 4th to 7th 2019

The annual Borrisoleigh Festival returns again this weekend; bigger and better than ever before.
The festival is being run in tandem with “The Arty Rooster Arts Festival”, which runs for the entire week from 1st July.

Overall Winner of the 2018 Wheelbarrow Competition with her entry ‘The Dogbox’ is Kathleen Ryan (left) with her sister Margaret and mother Effie (RIP)

The growing “International Wheelbarrow Extravaganza”, promises some wonderful creations. The competition is open to everyone to submit their modified wheelbarrows to be in with a chance to win some great prizes. Your imagination is the only limiting factor in this unique competition.

The Arty Rooster‘ will feature shop-front exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations, talks and performances, including an oil painting demonstration by artist Jim Donnelly on Saturday morning and a short play written by Ciarnad Ryan. The play is based on events which took place during the War of Independence and will be performed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in the function room in Finn’s Bar. Follow ‘The Arty Rooster’ on Facebook for full schedule updates.

The annual walk with the Bush and Briar Ramblers takes place on Saturday July 6th, walking part of the Beara Breifne Way from Greenane to Latteragh. Registration is at 8.30am in the Community Centre.

Award winning photographer Tom Doherty will be hosting a photo walk, giving tips on how to take great photos on a walk around Borrisoleigh starting at 11:00am in The Square. This should prove useful to anyone planning on entering the festivals Instagram Competition. Be sure to use the hashtag #BorrisFest19 when posting festival photos on Instagram to be in with a chance to win some great prizes. After the Official Opening with Lord Mayor Paddy Dolan and special guest on Saturday, there will be a Jiving Competition and Social Dancing with ‘Phil Maher’s Band’. The band ‘Ebony’ will finish off the night; from 10:00pm to 12:00 midnight.

A fire performer will be thrilling spectators throughout Saturday night with a number of performances from 8:00pm and Hot Chocolate and Wraps will be available from ‘The Hungry Horse’.

Sunday 7th July has a packed schedule from 2:00pm with the ‘Wheelbarrow Extravaganza’, live music, kid’s entertainment and lots more. The individual wheelbarrow categories are: Best Environmental; Best Miniature Garden; and Most Imaginative.

Entries open on Sunday 7th July 2.00 – 4.30 p.m. No entry fees. This year there is a new ‘Commercial’ Category. Local businesses can showcase their business in a wheelbarrow in the centre of Borrisoleigh for the duration of the Festival. €10 advance entry fee. Wheelbarrows can be displayed from 1st July – 7th July. There will be a public vote for the best overall wheelbarrow on Sunday afternoon. Votes cost €1.00 each. So, take another glance at that old wheelbarrow in the corner of the garden, and imagine what an amazing spectacle it would make with a little bit of ingenuity and TLC. And don’t forget to use #BorrisFest19 when uploading your photos to Instagram!

At 2.30pm in the Community Centre there is a Make Up Demonstration with MUA Kayley Moylan, admission is €8. Kids entertainment will feature Bouncy Castles, Disco Dome, Gladiators, Gaming Van and Hawkeye Powershot Competition. There will be a BBQ in the village square also on Sunday evening and a Hobby horse competition from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.

Live music starts at 2:00pm on Sunday with DJ Matt Ryan and a host of wonderful performers throughout the day. Starting with Paudi Bourke at 4pm, Dufrane 4.30pm, The Mangled Badgers 6pm and finishing with Silver Dollar from 8pm until late.

All in all, it promises to be a terrific festival with something for everyone and all ages. Pick up a copy of the festival booklet in any local shops for full schedule of events and follow Borrisoleigh Festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates.

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Beatified Archbishop Of Cashel, Co. Tipperary.

Thurles History, our unidentified ‘Key Strength’.

If I mention just a few names :- ‘The National Gallery of Ireland’; ‘The valley of Glendalough’; ‘The Rock of Cashel’; ‘Newgrange’; ‘St Patrick’s Cathedral’; ‘The Old Library at Trinity College’; ‘Glasnevin Cemetery’; ‘The Chester Beatty Library’; ‘The Jeanie Johnston Tallship’; ‘Kilmainham Gaol’; ‘Christ Church Cathedral’ and finally ‘Kilkenny Castle’, you will immediately identify same as household names in relation to just some of Ireland’s many tourist attractions.

So, ask yourself what have all of the above got in common? Upon reflection you will find the answer is of course ‘History’, and while some of the above national visitor attractions named are free to enter, others are costing our tourists, according to Tripadvisor, (Click on the shown links to see for yourself), some are €49.00, other €19.80 or even €60.00 per person, in order to get a guided tour.

Here in Thurles Co. Tipperary while we whine and moan about limited footfall on our streets, we have failed miserably, down through the years, to fully acknowledge and highlight our rich history. We also continue to appoint individuals with absolutely no knowledge, not just of our history, but also with limited ability in encouraging tourism.

Tipperary, The Place, The Time

Remember the embarrassing Tipperary, the Place, the Time PR stunt and the expensive lunch ordered for political and sporting dignitaries! Read here all about the then:- International Access, Unrivalled talent pools, Proven success stories, World-class infrastructure, Lifestyle and Culture, attempting to attract business to a Tipperary devoid of basic rural broadband and any advance factories. Here is where resignations should have been offered and not just by officials in IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, for their sheer PR stupidity, not to mention the waste of taxpayers’ money.

March 4 Tipp Group, we salute and support your endeavours, you got at least a promise of your ‘Ring Road’.

We first raised the question of ‘Key Strengths’ here on Thurles.Info on June 15th last (2019), [Click Here] pointing out that History had not been included in the list of key fortes and strong suits, identified with regard to Thurles town.

[The Key strengths that were identified were named:- Arts & Culture, Business, Sport and Education. Note: Arts being creative endeavours and disciplines, while Culture demonstrates the shared values, practices and goals, that define people residing in a particular or in this case a forgotten region.]

You can read our History Category Blogs from here.

Honouring our promise made on June 15th last, and in preparation for National Heritage Week in Thurles; we will attempt to highlight the massive national, historical importance and physical presence of the Cathedral of the Assumption. So do please now read on.

Archbishop of Cashel, Dr. Dermot (Darby) O’Hurley

The word “Cathedral” derives from the Latin word “Cathedra” meaning ‘a chair with armrests. A cathedral is simply an ordinary church, but unlike an ordinary church, in a cathedral church the presiding bishop has an ‘Episcopal Chair’, thus signifying his teaching authority. The chair is not solely associated with just Roman Catholic churches, but is found similarly in Orthodox and Anglican Communion churches also.

Episcopal Chair in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Thurles.

The Episcopal Chair or more commonly called a “Bishop’s Throne” in the Cathedral of the Assumption, here in Thurles, can be found positioned to the viewers right hand side, as they face the main Altar.

Dr. Dermot (Darby) O’Hurley (Irish-Diarmaid Ó hUrthuile), Archbishop of Cashel, was born in Lickadoon Castle, Co. Limerick in 1530, about 80.0km (50 mls), from Thurles. His father William O’Hurley, being a Steward to James Fitzgerald, 14th Earl of Desmond, ensured that Dermot gained a good education through tutors and was later sent abroad to study law at the Catholic University of Louvain, (Leuven), back then part of the Burgundian Netherlands, now part of today’s Belgium, where from here he graduated with an M.A. in 1551.

In 1581 Pope Gregory XIII (Ugo Boncompagni 1502- 1585) asked Dermot O’Hurley, then still a layman, to become the new Archbishop of Cashel. Having accepted this post; he was ordained on 13th August 1581 in Rome and on September 11th of that same year he was officially appointed Archbishop of Cashel. He would never arrive.

Here in Ireland then under English Rule, the Penal Laws were in force, leaving the new Archbishop no alternative but to return to Ireland in secret, to avoid capture by the spies of the reigning English Queen Elizabeth 1st. In 1570 latter Queen had been excommunicated by Pope Pius V; leaving Dr. Dermot O’Hurley under no illusion as to his new appointment. Same would mean that he must reside living as a fugitive, in order to carry on his ministry.

Smuggled into Ireland in 1583 he landed at Drogheda in the midst of the second Desmond Rebellion (1579-1583), to stay with Thomas Fleming, an Irish Peer and 10th Baron of Slane. Departing for his diocese Dr. O’Hurley arrived in Carrick-on-Suir, where he expected to come under the protection of the then 10th Earl of Ormond, Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles.

Before leaving and possibly unknown to himself, he was recognised by government spies; the latter who notified Adam Loftus (then Protestant Archbishop of Dublin), and Sir Henry Wallop, (Lord Justice).

Now faced with the prospect of being arrested himself, and under threat, the forenamed Baron Thomas Fleming immediately set out in pursuit, apprehending the Archbishop in Carrick-on-Suir, where he was then residing with the Protestant Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond and Lord Treasurer of Ireland.

Arrest & Torture of Dr Dermot O’Hurley

Baron Fleming now took Dr. O’Hurley back to Dublin Castle and by October 8th 1583, he was a prisoner in Dublin Castle.

Upon being questioned he admitted to being a Roman Catholic, however any effort to make him inform on other leading Roman Catholic members was to prove fruitless.
Lord Justice Sir Henry Wallop and the Earl of Kildare, Thomas Walsingham (Secretary to Queen Elizabeth 1st), both feared that Dr. O’Hurley was actively participating in a plot to overthrow English rule here in Ireland. Walsingham now ordered that Dr. O’Hurley be subjected to torture; accused of being a member of the Roman Inquisition. His torture included the filling of his booted legs with oil, before roasting them over an open fire.

Historian Richard Stanihurst, latter an Irish alchemist, translator, poet and historian, born in Dublin (1547–1618), described his particular gruesome torture: “In the Castle Yard, before the officials of the government, the executioner placed the archbishop’s feet and calves in tin boots filled with oil. They then fastened his feet in wooden shackles or stocks, and placed fire under them. The boiling oil so penetrated the feet and legs that morsels of skin and flesh fell off and left the bones bare.”

Screaming throughout his torturous agony, “Jesus, son of David, protect me”, he persistently continued to protest stating that his mission was one of peace and that he had no information whatsoever to give to his captors.

His captors then resorted to bribery, demanding that he renounce his Catholic faith and embrace Protestantism, but to no avail.

Fearing that they might kill him; his torturers then discontinued their actions and later he was sent for trial by a Military Tribunal, before being quickly sentenced to death.

Execution of Dr. Dermot O’Hurley Archbishop of Cashel.

On Saturday June 20th, 1584, an order for Dr. O’Hurley’s execution was received from England. He was taken early in the morning from his cell in Ship Street, to a swampy area near St. Stephen’s Green, latter then known as Hoggen Green, (Today the College Green/Dame Street area) to be hanged.

We understand that his corpse was thrown into a ditch, where it was later recovered by friends of the Archbishop. Same took his remains and buried them in the small churchyard of St. Kevin in Camden Row, Dublin.

Today the Church is in ruins, but for many years afterwards his burial plot became a place of pilgrimage for many Dublin Roman Catholic believers.

Dr. Dermot O’Hurley remains one of the most celebrated of Irish Catholic Martyrs, and was ‘beatified’ [Declared officially to be a holy person, usually the first step towards making them a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.] by Pope John Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyła 1920 – 2005) on September 27th 1992.

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Local Election Candidate Ms Catherine Fogarty Discusses Thurles Tourism

A total of 11 candidates [2 women and 9 Men] have put their names forward for selection in the 2019 Local Council Elections, promising to protect our interests in our dealings with Tipperary Co. Council. Same candidates hope to fill the 5 currently vacant seats; thus representing, for the next 5 years, the Templemore /Thurles, Municipal District, here in Co. Tipperary.

In alpha order, their names are Mr Tommy Barrett (Independent); Mr Michael Bracken (Independent); Mr Fergal Butler (Fianna Fáil); Mr David Doran (Formerly incoming Sinn Féin & Outgoing Independent); Ms Catherine Fogarty (Independent); Mr Seamus Hanafin (Outgoing Fianna Fáil); Mr Micheál Lowry (Outgoing Independent); Ms Ciara Mccormack (Sinn Féin); Mr Jim Ryan (Outgoing Independent); Mr Peter Ryan (Fine Gael); and Mr Sean Ryan (Outgoing Fianna Fáil).

In an “Open Letter” posted on this website addressed to the above named 11 local candidates seeking election, [published on Sunday May 12th last]; to discuss in particular ‘Tourism’, latter a subject distinctively absent from all political paraphernalia pushed through letterboxes; today we received our first and only reply to-date.

Ms Catherine Fogarty emailed Thurles.Info today and same communication can be read hereunder.

It should be fully noted that Ms Fogarty is the only election candidate going forward for election, who fully refrained from using all advertising, through the use of strategically parked motor vehicles, election posters, glossy brochures and junk mail. She has chosen instead for the voting public to make their decision, based on her considerable voluntary work; undertaken within the Thurles local community.

Focus on Thurles local election candidate Ms Catherine Fogarty.

Ms Fogarty writes:-
“Thank you for the opportunity to discuss Tourism in Thurles.
I think the potential is immense, but find there is a lack of focus on this sector. I have attached some thoughts and look forward to the feedback on your website.”

Catherine Fogarty - ”Tourism Thoughts for Thurles“.

“The town crest features the motto “Fleadh agus Failte” a Banquet and a Welcome. We should look to this to make our town thrive again – so many other towns in Ireland have been successful – we can too!

In the past I have collaborated with George Willoughby’s dedication to the cause, by insisting that Shannon Development replace the poor quality, “Welcome to Thurles Map”, they produced with something more reflective of the Tourism offering, locally. If you recall Shannon Development released a map using only 50% of the surface and included images of Bunratty Castle, St John’s Castle, Craggaunowen and Lough Gur. It gave the impression that we were too lazy to promote our area or had nothing to promote. Thanks to our combined efforts 10,000 new maps were produced.

All of these are in circulation, as I rescued 5,300 from the cleaner’s closet in the staff canteen of Shannon Development property, latter once situated in Tipp. Technology Park.

Since Shannon Development was wound up in 2012 the responsibility for Tourism and Industrial Development in Tipperary has been allocated to Failte Ireland and IDA respectively.

Important to note that local effort is vital to improve our tourism product. Tipperary Tourism is new and improved since the merger in 2014, however their two lead products are Lough Derg in the north and Munster Vales in the south. I have suggested to them that the peat way development in Littleton could be the product that Mid and East Tipperary, can use as a core magnet.

As chairperson of Refresh Tidy Towns; I suggested that we adopt the orphaned Tourist Information Signs in the Square. I personally repainted them red, added new lettering and replaced some of the perspex.

We did believe Liberty Square redevelopment was imminent, however now I would not expect it to go to tender until sometime this year; so, a start date for the car park would be possibly late 2020 with work on the Square to follow. Note: My intuition on this – no information as to Council’s realistic timetable. The area is now forlorn with very poor footpaths and street furniture.

I did provide Thurles Town Centre Forum, in 2018, with details of the EU’s Wifi for EU Voucher scheme (Mr Sean Kelly MEP provided me with the details re application). Tipperary Co. Council did apply and secured 4 vouchers for the whole county. The Council’s Broadband Officer assures me that consideration will be given to allocating a voucher to Liberty Square. This will hopefully assist with bringing footfall to the square and assist in online promotion of events / attractions / bookings and other enquiries.

Similarly, I assisted Hayes Hotel in applying for an ‘Online Trading Voucher’. This supported their plan to install a ‘booking engine’ on their website. (I was not working at the hotel, but I contacted them about the opportunity). Note: A booking engine allows the website to take bookings instantly. Plenty of scope for other businesses to install booking engines and use online promotion to meet the potential customer online as they search for that product/experience. Hook those fishes when they are looking! Convert interested people into customers supporting our local economy. The voucher provides funding up to €2,500 for IT Consultation/software installation. T&Cs apply.

In 2013 with the assistance of Ms Rona Sorrell and Mr John Lanigan, a survey of approach road signage was completed. We have been pursuing this updating of road signage. In Dec. 2018 we were informed that the Councillors were to provide their response to signage options presented to them in September 2018. The District Administrator did arrange to put the matter on the Agenda after Christmas and some of the proposals have been displayed on this website. As a group we are not happy with the proposed signage. The signs are too harried, and the inclusion of images and the actual images selected all need to be simplified in our opinion. For roadside signage the user must be considered. Vehicles travelling at speed cannot see details inset in leaves or read a multiplicity of text. Creating the signage via ad hoc committees is not a good process. The new branding may be successful in documents / packaging and online, but not on roadside signs. Additionally, this signage project is minimal – we need an inclusive approach to wayfinding for our many visitor assets.

I have pursued the restoration of the www.thurles.ie – dormant since approx. 2010. In brief it will be launched later this month. The issue of ongoing maintenance is interesting. I am certainly willing to be of assistance in updating content and creating social media posts. Council budgets need to be updated to include provision of online presence and promotion tools. It must be vibrant, up to date and engaging, if it is to be beneficial to the town. I have sought a newsletter sign-up as a feature. Allows the town to capture contact details with permission to contact the person in the future. For me an inclusive Town Team is the way to proceed, if we are to be successful.

Each year I have tried to encourage local events along the theme selected for Heritage Week, I have compiled a list of local highlights and created an infographic to share online, with the Hotels, and created signage for display in Cabragh Wetlands, Library, Railway Station and one of the Tourist Information Signs at Ulster Bank. This was funded by a Refresh Thurles Tidy Towns grant via Tipperary County Council. Participation in Heritage Week increases the town’s profile and builds local event capacity.

Funding for Tourism is also an issue – the Municipal District Council do not fund tourism projects directly. Groups need to engage with Leader to secure funding, but they do have monies to distribute.

In the future what could be achieved?

I would offer to work 20 hours a week in Lar Na Pairce as a tourism animator / collaborator / information point / social media management point, if I was elected as a councillor. Indeed, if elected I would love to blend this with Tidy Towns projects as my full-time job. (While also fulfilling all Council related duties).

Thurles is an attractive town but needs much more care – council does fail to repair / replace items promptly. The damaged signage at corner near Premier insurances should have been removed immediately and later repaired. This neglect is embarrassing as has been rightly pointed out here. The Council does not act as the town’s guardian. First impressions matter.

I believe that Lar Na Pairce was purchased by Shannon Development and sold to Thurles Development Association for one old pound. Now that the shop is closed the building could revert to being a Tourism and Heritage Centre. A hub for all tourism providers to connect, a venue for tourism related events built on the magnet that the GAA museum should be. As I write this on Sunday May 19th, I note a tweet from Hong Kong – someone watching the match on GAAGO. Our local stadium has a global market and brand that we need to exploit to benefit our local economy.

The town model created by Jim Condon (purchased privately by George Willoughby and encased by funding from North Tipperary Co. Council), could be proudly displayed as a focal point. Tipperary County Board could be tenants upstairs, car park could be a source of revenue to fund Tourism activities – yes, a committee would be required to act on governance and remit. Perhaps the Tipperary Heartland members could provide a sub-committee to manage this effort? Important to be locally led – many of our key business in town are owned by non-residents e.g. Anner Hotel and Tipperary Star – local commitment is vital to success in my opinion.

While the town is situated on a River, virtually nothing has been done to promote the river as an amenity. We, in Refresh Thurles have developed a River celebration event this year, “Suirfest, Our River, Our Story”, and hope to promote the river as a vital element in our environment. It is a habitat, but it is also an amenity for several activities, but it is severely underdeveloped in the sense of access and pollution is also a cause for concern. Creating local infrastructure for canoeing and ensuring the river was fit for purpose would attract visitors with the option to travel virtually all the Suir to the Sea. It would be our ambition to develop the event to incorporate a Food Festival in Thurles. There is a need for Council funding to develop the river as an amenity in this area north of Cahir.

Our assets for tourism are immense – access, road / rail, local bus companies available, beautiful setting, 3 hotels approx. 190 rooms, magnets like Lisheen Castle, Farney Castle, Jim of the Mills, Source Arts Centre, Sporting events, Colleges for Conference venues, Semple Stadium Matches/Music, Holycross and Kilcooley Abbey, Walking in Grange, Doire Bhille, Upperchurch, Cabragh Wetlands, Coolmore, Devil’s Bit, Equestrian, Horse Racing, Fishing, Rich History of town from 580AD and Tipperary Studies to assist exploration. Pubs and live music offering are great. Our Festivals need improving to standard of events that are targeted at bringing visitors rather than an event for residents. Both can enjoy the Festival. Target audience impacts on the offering and the promotion. Utilising the services of AOIFE would aid this work.

Feile has returned and this year we can expect to see an additional Music Trail in town centre and improved offering at the Stadium. Council has funded this Music trail to extent of €15,000 so it is important to examine carefully the product offered and the ROI for the taxpayer. There is an opportunity cost in respect of this funding.

We have wonderful people in Thurles that provide a complex social and cultural offering – our biggest asset to providing a great visitor experience that will provide great word of mouth and positive recommendations.

Similarly, the two colleges are a potential source of visitors/events for our town and means of creating town ambassadors. We have many links abroad – this too is a source of visitors. Two of our schools offer boarding services – some from abroad. Each year Templemore Garda College hosts police officers from across Europe for training. They spend from 10 days to 4 weeks in the Anner Hotel. Their weekends and some evenings are free. We should tap into these people to provide some great local experiences that they may promote/return to visit with their families. During the week I met one such lady from Bosnia Herzegovina on her way to see the Cathedral interior.

Vacant buildings in poor condition are a challenge and we need an additional evening dining options while another hotel with 80 – 100 rooms would make the town eligible for additional Failte Ireland funding.

Failte Ireland aspire to creating new destination towns – will Thurles take on this challenge? Approximately 76% of all tourism nights are delivered in 7 counties. The new branding for Ireland’s Hidden Heartland which Tipperary can use is ideal for Thurles. Slow adventures can be had here.

We can also use the Ireland’s Ancient East Branding which was devised for all areas east of the Shannon excluding Dublin. The number one asset in IAE is the Rock of Cashel. We can benefit from visitors to Cashel. Many would find a tour of Holycross Abbey, with its local very well-trained guides, to be a more satisfactory experience than Cashel.

Indeed in 2017, 32 coaches of visitors came to Upperchurch on their itinerary from a Kerry base. They walked, tried hurling, dancing and footed turf – the majority gave this experience a higher rating than visiting the Cliffs of Moher! Our local assets in Thurles can give the visitor a memorable experience.

Amenities under development at present are the Lions Club River Walk and a Council funded feasibility study for a ‘peat way’ in Littleton Bog. The latter will seek to link with Walking and Cycling options in Thurles. The vacant Farm Building in the Town Park is to be made available to the Farmers Market. But this needs to move along promptly – the Farmers market will bring vibrancy to the area but there is potential for other uses in the building to make it hum more than one day per week.

Perhaps here is not the place to ask about the assets of the Thurles Famine Museum – could it be reassembled in a new location in Thurles? Perhaps the Lar na Pairce building could be a home – providing a vital source of footfall for Slievenamon Road with visitors free to ramble north or south?

Agri Tourism and food production are sectors that we should be successful in – we have the assets and the platform to do so. Local food served to visitors enriches their visit and makes it more memorable.

Training for local people via Failte Ireland’s local experts’ program would be beneficial. Every visitor should be welcomed and taken care of by people well informed about their locality. Local familiarisation for key personnel is important also.

Potential exists for creating bundles for visitors – e.g. Accommodation and tickets to a show at the Source. Guided tour of the town with accommodation partner. This needs time and effort to devise, promote and deliver the packages. This is role that a Thurles Tourism Animator could fulfil.

Ideally a role would be funded as a full-time role – probably on a contract basis perhaps with Leader or Community Services Program funding. In the meantime, I would offer my service to promoting and developing Thurles as a tourism destination because it is an area with huge potential to boost our local economy.

If we collaborate, we can extend the visitors stay and ensure a greater degree of spend in our local economy. There are some trained tour guides in Thurles – but if a group sought a tour or presentation about the town would there be someone ready?

Last year Hayes Hotel had an enquiry from an Active Retirement group for a presentation about Thurles prior to meal service – I arranged a speaker. There is huge potential and worth our while to develop some more tour guides in Thurles – thematic and general knowledge.

While there is a grouping, Tipperary Heartland Tourism, with wonderful assets I am not aware of their efforts in say the last 12 months – perhaps they could provide an update on their activities? For any voluntary group to make an impact is quite a challenge – typically the members are involved in several groups. A dedicated role in Thurles would make a huge contribution to developing our tourism product and visitor experience.

This is my offering for Thurles. Please consider me when voting on Friday May 24th.”

Signed: Catherine Fogarty.
Independent Candidate Thurles LEA.
Telephone Number: 087 270 1689.
Email: Fogartyc64@gmail.com

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