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Revitalising Thurles Town Centre

Pézenas, France – Photo Gerard Connaughton

Pézenas, a town in the south of France, was once the seat of local Government for the Languedoc region of France, during the 16th-17th Centuries, and remains to this day, one of the prettiest towns to visit in this French region.

Nestling between the Mediterranean sea and the Haut Languedoc, Pézenas is a town, much like Thurles, which is rich with the sort of good living for which both the French Languedoc region and county Tipperary, are individually in their own right, renowned.

Just like Tipperary speciality foods are numerous. In Pézenas it’s “Les Petits Pates” (a sort of warm mince pie) and “Berlingots” (a unique type of boiled sweet,) an almost inexhaustible range of olives, honey and of course wine. In Tipperary it’s the freshness of our local produce emanating from the Golden Vale, Cashel Blue, Cooleeney Farmhouse,  Dunbarra & Gortnamona Cheeses, not forgetting of course Inch House black pudding.

Like Thurles, Pézenas enjoys sumptuous food emanating from the many restaurants dotted throughout the town, which is home to a population of some 8.500 people. Like Thurles also, Pézenas enjoys the arts and an ancient architecture and heritage.

Thurles native Mr Gerard Connaughton, a regular reader of Thurles.Info, is currently enjoying part of his well earned holiday in the Languedoc region. Writing to us from Pézenas he states he is “struck by the similarities and saddened by the differences in economic fortunes,” between his native town Thurles & his chosen holiday destination.

While there are a lot of tourists about, the local market draw French people in huge numbers from all over the Hérault, latter a department in the south of France named after the Hérault River.

Gerard writes, “I visited the Saturday market in the centre of town this morning. I was astonished by the buzz and business activity I witnessed. Pézenas has a population of about 8,500 – similar to Thurles. I believe we made a big mistake moving the market out of Liberty Square!

Gerard was kind enough to send us a picture of his morning visit to the market area in question.

Do you think our now lifeless Liberty Square here in Thurles could benefit with the return of a morning market? Personally I believe, like Gerard, we need to generate a bit of “buzz and business activity,” in the centre of our town which has presently (I regret to state,) all the appearance of a waiting room in a morgue, or as tourism brochures presently label us “Liberty Square, Thurles, is just one giant car park.

Perphaps it is now time to launch an attack on our town & reclaim it from the greedy hands of central government officialdom. Your comments please.


19 comments to Revitalising Thurles Town Centre

  • Thurles Resident

    Could do with a fantastic pilot scheme ??

  • Thurles Business Person

    The idea of the square being a market place is an excellent one. Why not move the Farmers’ market there? The only trouble is that the shop owners on the Square will not agree. They say that they need the parking space. They complain that there is no where else to park if the space is taken up. The future for the shop owners is very bleak for them unless they adopt some radical thinking (like the market place on Liberty Square idea).

  • Thurles Business Person, I agree, however there are also ‘behind the scene,’ problems with business people operating in Liberty Square who refuse to continue to purchase fresh produce from suppliers who operate in opposition, at places like the farmers market. However if one area of Liberty Square were to be cordoned off to those involved, car parking would only remove a dozen vehicles from Liberty Square.
    Parking charges should also be abandoned for the time period in which any market operated. The Thurles Chamber of Commerce should now take this proposal to our powerless idiotic overpaid Thurles Town Council, latter who appear to be more interested in promoting notions of national politics presently, than in coming up with any constructive ideas with which to serve the Thurles community, for which they were elected. Feeling on the ground here in Thurles presently is “Roll on Local Elections 2014.”

    Councillor Gerard Fogarty is a huge outspoken advocate of “Thurles the Market Town,” and would champion this cause with both intelligence and sound logic.

  • Mark Phelan

    Tourism in Ireland is on the up. We need to jump on the band wagon. First we need a park and childrens play ground, then we need to extend the mall walk out to ladies well and continue it to Cabra Wet Lands and on to Holy Cross Abbey. Two meters of a stone walk way would not cost that much. Then we need to develop other areas of interest such as visitors center and museum up at the battle field at Lough na Galla which is an area of great historical significance, currently being ignored. Also there is a huge half finished castle out in Knox’s wood that should be an national heritage site, this would draw a huge amount of tourism. There could be a walk out to this along the river as well and perhaps continued out to Loughmore castle.
    The Ulster bank car park should be made in to a multistory car park and have no parking in the center of the square or outside the shops and more restaurants and bars with outside seating could be open along the street to improve night life.
    Also a market area could be set up opposite supermacs.
    The castle at the east gate (beside jumbo) should be restored as it has a lot of history behind it. Plus the west gate castle in the credit union car park should be restored.
    These are but a few things along with developing existing attraction that would improve tourism in Thurles and create jobs in tourism and it spin offs. Then maybe in guide book such as lonely planet they will write Thurles not to be missed instead of Thurles, nothing here continue to Cashel.
    Hopefully some one with some imagination will take control and implement some ideas that will better our town and in turn our people.
    Heroin is also rampant in our town, that is why robberies are on the up. We are losing the battle. Who can we turn to?

  • Thanks George for another thought provoking blog post.

    Thurles has historically been a market town. The reason the market was moved out and into the Parnell St carpark was because of the nature of the market and it’s set up etc.

    Since my co-option to the Council I have been working to set up a market in the parking bays opposite Supermacs on Saturday mornings when the square is quite. I have met resistance from some of the officials on the basis that it would be a public safety hazard, however I am continuing to work for a market in The Square and I am confident it will be done soon. The successful traders in the Baker St market have agreed to move there. I would hope that the producers in the Greyhound Track would be happy to move there too. In addition to driving footfall into the Square and to the businesses in it, a market in the square would create that vital visual presence for the market.

  • Chris

    The square would be a great location again for the markets. Also the space down beside the Ursuline school near Elvery sports that is another spot which would be nice to see some markets/events on.

  • Thurles Business Person

    All of these ideas are what is needed. Is there someone to champion them and lead. Action is required and will the Town Council actively promote such ideas?

  • Patrick Lambe

    Thanks for highlighting this as a priority for Thurles. There is a lot of gloom about the decline of the traditional business centers. We can watch it deteriorate further or we can do something! It won’t improve by doing nothing – lets turn it around.

  • Gerard: This health & safety ‘excuse,’ has now become the norm, when people want to bring about change affecting their very survival. However same excuse is never a problem when thousands of people converge on Thurles for a GAA match or when Disco goers emerge from pubs & clubs to stand in the middle of the road at 2.00 am on weekends. Change our pedestrian traffic lights to Liberty Square west, from their stupid current position, thus allowing traffic from Friar Street & Templemore Rd (O’Donovan Rossa St) to move more freely. Centre town business is being stifled by parked vehicles so let’s erect a nice Victorian style cast iron canopy in the area opposite Supermac’s & a similar cast iron roofed erection opposite the current Post Office. Note: The only difference between a Supermarket & Liberty Square is that the former has a roof protecting customers from the weather while the latter does not.
    While I am on the topic, was it really necessary to paint the Suir Bridge Black , but then I suppose when a town like Thurles is in mourning & since the “men that we had admired the most-the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost-have caught the last train for the coast,” (Apologies to Don McLean) perhaps it is an appropriate colour for a dying town coming into the heart of a cold dreary winter.
    By the way I had a chat with Dwan’s Hardware in Cathedral last week & these good & generous folks have agreed to sponsor the required 3 gals of ‘Postbox Red,’ paint, same necessary to bring about change. Now do we have any volunteers I wonder?” I know the Town Council won’t mind, since graffiti on our walls nowadays is a quite acceptable practise.
    Gerard your efforts for positive change in the way we do business in Thurles has been noted.

  • Donal Ryan

    The market returning to the square would be a great idea. Local produce should be promoted as much as possible. The Milk Market in Limerick seems to do well and has become an attraction benefitting the surrounding businesses. We need to rid Liberty Square of its ‘giant car park’ image. Surely we can exchange 24 parking spaces for a more attractive and therefore viable town centre? We can think of ways to accommodate these 24 spaces elsewhere in the square if it’s a deal breaker.
    Marks idea for creating riverside walks is also a good one which should be promoted. We do not make the best use of our limited resources in this town.

  • Chris

    Ah the black isn’t too bad on the bridge though. Could have used a lighter shade maybe. It is the condition of the footpaths that is the real eyesore. They should have laid the same concrete slab paths like whats on Cathedral street up to Aldi.

  • The final surface is to go on the paths over the next few weeks they have almost completed remedial works to the side and arches of the bridge. It will be a durable non slip surface like non slip road surfaces.

  • Mark Phelan

    Thats great but will it lift and break away like the last antislip surface they put on the bridge foot paths a few years ago, leaving an uneven unsafe walk way that actually was a safety issue. Then company who laid it were let off and they did not have to come back and do it again like any normal job. Same as resurfacing the dublin road out near coldfields two mile borris, they surfaced it, it lifted and nothing , no one held responsible.this should change and quickly before more tax payers money is wasted on doing double work.

  • Chris

    That’s another issue which needs to be raised is the conditions of some footpaths. Castlemeadows near Colaiste Eile, Stradavoher,the path running outside Jim Kennedy’s in Parnell Street and about 20 more footpaths in bad and sometimes dangerous conditions. They have neglected these footpaths for years. I wonder if the 258k Mr Quirke has to pay to the council in order to proceed to build the supermarket in Slievenamon road will any of that money be spent on repairs.

    Another thing is Eircom and other utility companies digging up parts of the footpaths and just throwing concrete on it to patch it up. Thurles TC doesn’t even inspect the work. They need to adopt a policy to
    1. To try have all footpaths uniform on both sides of the streets. No continuity in the town either one side the street is concrete or tarmac the other is brick or slab it looks a mess.

    2. If you are digging up footpaths whoever Eircom/Upc or the council itself, that all patching up is done to the same standards/quality and same materials already used.

    3. The Council must go out and examine the repair works done and ensure they are of good quality and safe for the public.

  • Chris

    To add the resurfacing on the bridge should have been extended to the castle. That box junction has loads of to many poorly filled pot holes

  • While I agree totally on your other comments, we must fallout on the paint colour on Barry’s Bridge. This preset colour can be found on the railings of every grave surround in every graveyard in Ireland. Get up to Fitzgibbon’s engineering in Mitchell St, and get them to run up a few perfectly rounded geometrical objects on their lathe, and have them welded to the parapet. Come on here where are our creative designers gone? Have a chat with top local artist David McElgunn, who we are aware has an acknowledged creative eye for such matters. (Use the money earmarked to send local councillors to Donegal in pursuit of future ‘edumacational’ courses, demonstrating the importance of Twitter & Facebook in rural political life.)

  • Chris

    I would love to see those railings removed and glass railings like they have in Waterford city along the quays taking its place. The Suir is such a beautiful feature going through our town it should be visually opened up more with removal of the thick walls. Replace them with glass panels or a smaller wall moved in closer to the bank.
    Gerald while you are here. I brought this issue up with the town council a few months ago. The Munster hotel car park the council is renting. One of the tall pillars at the entrance has a structural crack going right through it and you can fit your hand in it. Chances are if someone strikes this with a car it will come down on them. The council needs to get a structural engineer to have a look at this. Any repair works needed I imagine will have to be paid for by the owner of the car park, but as the town council is renting the car park it will be liable for any loss/injury if it occurs. Small cost sending a man to see it vs paying out compensation.

  • Dick Ryan

    Just about what Chris said about the pillar in the Munster Hotel car park. That has that crack in it for years, long before the council started renting the car park.
    Also I think the Munster Hotel should be knocked and prehaps a park or something else be put in its place. It is such an eyesore and also the local bad boys,(that no one wants hanging around) use it as a drug dealing and sex spot, that the gardai know about but don’t seem to want to stop.
    Also everything inside is destroyed due to vandalism and water damage, so it would cost more to fix than rebuild at this stage. The basement has been flooded for years and its only a matter of time before someone falls into the disgusting water on the ramp down into the basement and drowns.

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