A significant meeting of Kilfenora residents took place on 15 March to discuss Kilfenora’s future.
This was the first good opportunity to review a range of positive developments since the pandemic started and Kilfenora Development community group was formed (December 2020), and to focus on what should happen next – especially as consultation on the Clare county development plan closes on 28 March.
John Howard welcomed attendees and described how the Community Hall had been refurbished with grant aid from Clare Co Council.
Councillor Joe Garrihy stressed that it had been essential that Kilfenora formed an overall community group so that the village could speak with one voice to the Council and obtain public funding. And now Kilfenora is also represented on a new North Clare strategy group, a collaboration between the various communities to press for more investment and better policy making for the Burren.
Joe Killeen summarised how Corofin had benifitted from forming its community group. The other two North Clare councillors – Shane Talty and Liam Grant – also attended to show Kilfenora their support.
Stephen Hegarty talked briefly about the formation of Kilfenora Development and its work, and asked the community to read the draft strategy and plan for the village and give feedback.
Rev Kevin O’Brien (CoI) gave an update on work needed to repair and re-open Kilfenora’s historic Cathedral. The Council is helping to obtain Government funding – as neither Kilfenora nor the CoI have the resources. Going forward, the community needs to take over management of the Cathedral and generate funds for its upkeep, eg through concerts and other activities, in what will remain a consecrated building. He expects that both the Catholic and Anglican bishops will visit soon.
Dena McGrath gave an overview of the first year of the reconstituted Tidy Towns group – eg road and graveyard clean-ups, flower and bulb planting, the biodiversity garden at the Holy Well, working with the School – and of plans for 2022. The village needs volunteers to maintain their efforts.
Claire Collins explained what is being done to refresh both the soon-to-be renamed Burren Centre Café, and the craft shop – including an online dimension. She asked those not already shareholders to consider joining (only €10), noting that shareholders would be briefed at an upcoming meeting on the major investment in a re-designed exhibition – critical to bringing visitor spend to the village.
Eva Hegarty of the new Sustainable Energy team explained that a study is planned will help the community towards cleaner and cheaper energy sources – badly needed given huge price rises.
Thomas Coyne, the new National School Principal, described developments including a focus on technology skills, a new sports area, Irish language teaching, a composting workshop by Tidy Towns, and music classes with Brid O’Donohue following a gift of 50 whistles by Kilfenora CCE branch – seeking to maintain the village’s historic music tradition.
Carol Gleeson (Clare CoCo) explained that a Burren village signage scheme is needed to retain the Burren’s Unesco Geopark status – she showed the design that Kilfenora has helped to pilot. The Geopark is also helping to develop a badly needed Kilfenora visitor information sign.
John Lynch encouraged the community to support these various efforts to develop Kilfenora. The Kilfenora Céilí Band is continually flying the flag for the village, and will help where it can.
Andy Lambert, Secretary of Kilfenora Development, asked everyone to focus on what Kilfenora should seek to be included in the County Development plan to move the village forward – the key information is on www.kilfenoraclare.com and input can be made to [email protected]
The meeting concluded with informal discussion with the various contributors over tea and biscuits.