A Kilfenora community action group was established in December 2020, intended to promote the regeneration of the village and raise its profile as a place to visit, live and work. It serves as an umbrella group in representing the village to Clare County Council and state bodies such as Fáilte Ireland.
Kilfenora Development is underpinned by a non-profit company called Kilfenora Planning CLG. This enables the village to apply for and manage grant money.
A steering group and consultative panel was formed reflecting virtually all of the interest groups in Kilfenora – farming, retail, employment, tourism, sport, culture, music, accommodation, different age groups and the Noughaval and Inchovea areas – including specific entities such as the Burren Centre, Deanery, GAA, IFA, Comhaltas, Kilfenora Céilí Band, Kilfenora Timeline volunteers, Community Hall and School.
The intention is to form project teams to work on various development ideas. One of the early steps taken was to revive Kilfenora’s Tidy Towns Team, and this has been instrumental in using grant money to improve the appearance of the village. Read more here.
A previous exercise in 2018 to draw up a village strategy and form an umbrella group, supported by Leader, did not unfortunately take shape and lead to action. However, in Kilfenora Development’s inaugural year, despite extremely slim resources and constraints imposed by the Covid pandemic, some progress was made.
Periodic meetings have been held with Council officials, including the engineers department, in order to seek improvements in Kilfenora’s infrastructure and signage. Councillors Garrihy and KiIleen have taken a supportive interest.
Following a public meeting in the Hall on 15 March 2022 and subsequent consultation, a detailed submission of the village’s needs was submitted to the Council for inclusion in the County Development Plan. As yet the Council has not responded, and other important requests we have submitted have not been met, for example regarding road safety on approach routes. Nonetheless there have been some positive developments.
- Grants have been obtained for flower planters and beds, and these have been used by the TT team in various locations, especially around the Square, Kilfenora’s Holy Well (which now has a biodiversity garden), the approach to the Cathedral and on the entry points to the village. Various other projects are underway to improve the village’s attractiveness.
- A grant was obtained to improve this website.
- A new bicycle rack was located at the place where Ccclists typically congregate.
- Road repairs were made, especially tackling the long degraded surface exiting the village to Lisdoonvarna.
- Consultations were undertaken on parking in the Square and on a proposed new Geopark branded village sign scheme.
- Consultation was also undertaken locally on a Fáilte Ireland project – the Burren Discovery Trail. A range of significant flaws were highlighted. Any initiative to encourage good tourism within the Burren area is to be welcomed. It remains to be seen how well this will be achieved.
- Kilfenora is represented on a new North Clare Communities Group, originally initiated by Joe Garrihy, and now incorporating some 20 North Clare communities. Its first task was to influence the emergent ‘Cliffs of Moher strategy’ such that investment is spread across the Burren area, rather than exacerbating the negative impact already experienced of over-development at the Cliffs. Broader community development issues such as road safety, transport and local economic development in general are on the agenda.
- Kilfenora Development reached agreement with the Church of Ireland that our Cathedral – shut for the past 3 years – should be re-opened for community use, visitors, exhibitions and concerts. Work is underway to scope out necessary repair works and a plan to obtain some income so that this important national monument can stay open in future.
- Some mapping of walking and cycling routes around the village has taken place, as is shown on the relevant page on this website.
- A Sustainable Energy Project Group has been formed, and planning is underway to study the village’s energy needs, to help Kilfenora become more fit for the future and reduce costs.
- A programme of events in Kilfenora was organised for National Heritage Week in 2022 and is underway for 2023.
Alongside these steps, the Community Hall and Burren Centre have also obtained grants to effect improvements.
There is much more to be done. Kilfenora, despite its many attractions, remains very much a poor cousin in terms of work to increase economic prospects, tourism etc.
So there is plenty to discuss and do as we head towards 2024!
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