Minutes from Castletownbere Development Association AGM
Thursday 10th February 2016
Beara Coast Hotel 8pm.
There have been apologies from Noel Harrington TD, Patrick Gerard Murphy, Keith Hegarty, Noel Forde, Celina Sheehan, Mary O’Sullivan, Niall O’Sullivan and Finbarr Harrington.
Minutes of previous AGM were read and adopted followed by the Treasurer’s report from Alice Harrison. Alice reported that 2015 had been a very good year for the CDA financially, with an almost 50% increase in income. This was attributed to an increase in sponsorship and also the fact that we organised more events this year leading to an increase in donations collected. It was also the first year of the Castletownbere Run, there was a marked increase in Christmas Newsletter sales, it was also the first year of the new calendar and also the fact that we were awarded a €10k grant from Cork County Council.
Chairman’s Address - Darren Lynch:
Darren started by informing the floor that the CDA’s tax year had been changed to end December 31st hence the AGM being brought forward to February. This makes much more sense for the election of a new committee, giving them time to settle in before the busy summer and festival season.
The first event from the previous year’s event calendar Darren spoke about was The Ring of Beara Cycle – Kenmare which took place on Saturday 23rd May 2015. This year 250 cyclists started and finished in Castletownbere. What benefit did this have for Castletownbere? The feedback from the cyclists to the CDA had been fantastic with 60% of them had never visited here before. They brought revenue to the town, accommodation and restaurants in particular, and will essentially provide free advertising and have a knock-on effect with return visits etc. Darren expressed his thanks to Murphy’s Super Valu, the Tidy Towns committee and John Regan in particular for all their help and contribution to the day.
Next topic was Castetownbere Festival of the Sea 2015. Unfortunately again this year our age old nemesis the Weather was not on our side leading to the cancellation of several events. There was an emphasis again this year on trying to get the maritime feel back in to the festival, with the introduction of the Fisherman of the Year competition (kindly sponsored by The Skipper) playing a huge role in this. Also we had began to evolve as a committee in the organisation of the festival by liaising with the local Sergeant and Harbour master to develop a traffic management plan.
The inaugural Castletownbere Wild Atlantic Way Run took place on Saturday 26th September 2015. This was a great success and Darren thanked all who were involved. Whilst it was a lot of work it is fully intended to run it again this coming September.
Halloween – the “Haunted Garden” had been bigger and better this year with the kind permission of Canon Paul Willoughby. Whilst not a huge profit generator for the CDA it is has been a lot of fun for the past two years.
Christmas Newsletter and Calendar – Darren thanked the editorial committee of the Castletownbere Christmas Newsletter, Dorothy Brophy, Michael Downey and Sandra O’Shea for their tireless commitment to the ever growing publication and also to Joan Kelly who distributes them around to the local businesses. This year the CDA ran a photographic competition on Facebook with the winning 14 photographs being made into a Beara Calendar. We were overwhelmed with the popularity of the competition and we think you would all agree the resulting calendar for 2016 is stunning. It is intended to run the competition again this coming Christmas.
This led to the topic of the town Christmas Lights. So much work goes into putting them up so it was so disheartening to see them all broken from the bad weather and other accidents. That is why we were so delighted to be in receipt of a grant of €10,000 from Cork County Council in 2015 for the complete replacement of the lights. Darren said that the town looked fantastic throughout the festive season. The new lights are LED which are more economical to run. Darren thanked Conor Twomey Electrician and Seamus Harrington and also the businesses who gave the use of forklifts.
Acquisition of St. Peter’s Church and premesis – the process is still ongoing, as with everything when dealing with the church it will move slowly. We have a good relationship with Canon Paul Willoughby.
Darren spoke about the CDA having a good working relationship with the local gards and Council authorities. We have been involved in a lot of work behind the scenes for the improvement of the town that is not just the organisation of festivals and events, for example the improvement of the public toilets, discussions on the instalment of CCTV and applications for grants for other improvements to the town.
That being said we are always in need of volunteers. For example on the day of the cycle or during the festival we need people to help with traffic control. Participation helps to foster a good sense of community spirit. The town is heading in a good direction and the appetite is there to move it on. We need to work with what we have and keep the momentum going.
Before the election of officers Darren explained the CDA’s memorandum of understanding whereby the vice chair sits for two years before moving up to be chair for two years. This is in the best interest of the continuity and protection of the work the committee is doing. As can be seen from matters discussed, when liaising with members of the Council on community grants and other important projects, it is imperative that the same people remain involved to see the projects through. However we are ALWAYS open to, and actively seeking, new people to join the CDA. Darren said that he could understand that if people don’t want to sit on a committee, perhaps they would still consider volunteering a few hours of their time to help run an event. We are a small committee at the moment and we can get burnt out. Darren invited anyone with an idea to come forward and we will take everything on board. We want to be a facilitator for the community.
Election of Officers, presided over by Chris Downey.
Incoming Chair: Darren Lynch. Incoming Vice Chair: Cian Murphy. Incoming Secretary: Rozalyn Williams. Incoming Treasurer: Alice Harrison. Incoming PRO: John Galvin. Incoming Development Officer: Noel Forde.
Incoming Chair’s Address:
Darren spoke about the imminent developments coming to the town over the next year or two, with a traffic study by Cork County Council to take place and the pier in town to be restricted in access by the public. It is not yet 100% certain how it will all pan out but it will certainly give rise to the opportunity to develop a new bypass route for the town and with it address the parking problems. This is a huge issue for our town at the moment and it appears to us that the appetite is there with the Council and the Department of the Marine to carry it forward. The CDA would be in favour of anything that enhances the town, alleviates current traffic and parking problems, and creates the best environment. Darren recognised from the comments coming from the floor that this is a debate that needs to be had and proposed to call a separate public meeting in a few weeks’ time.
Darren thanked everyone who was in attendance and opened up the floor for discussion.
Michael Downey thanked and congratulated the committee, especially on the ongoing work of acquiring St. Peter’s Church. Kathleen Twomey seconded his sentiments, and asked what are the plans for it. Darren explained that at the moment we were waiting on a move from the church, and the legal side of it is moving fairly slowly.
Kieran Murphy spoke about the issue of young teens hanging around in town, asked if we could come up with an idea for a centre or an area to facilitate this age group. He also reiterated that the committee can be contacted and approached with ideas.
Denis Hanafin commended all the new businesses in town, in particular the Beara Coast Hotel. He suggested the creation of a town BRAND, suggesting we capitalise on the sea and seafood. He specified a brand for Castletownbere not Beara. He suggested a sub-committee be formed to focus on this. Darren agreed that we have a lot to offer in this regard for a town of our size, and said that this is the kind of idea we want to get from our AGM. If members of the community want to form sub committees to work on an idea or a project we can row in behind and facilitate the best we can.
Ann Finch said that Cork City and Council have launched a collective strategy for tourism – the Strategic Policy Committee, which she is a part of and offered her help. She also spoke about the Public Participation Network, which, as a voluntary committee we should look into. She said that changes are being made as regards Leader funding which we may be able to benefit from next year. Ann also suggested we put more links on our website as they do with the West Cork Islands website to work alongside other similar groups and help and compliment each other.
Vince Power spoke about the Greenways cycle routes around Ireland in particular one in Wesport. They are safe for families and very popular. Darren replied that it was unfortunate that a man-made cycle route away from the main road around Beara would not be possible. This lead to a deeper discussion about cycling becoming a very popular pastime and Beara being very favourable because of the varied terrain.
Donal Kelly congratulated the incoming committee. He asked the floor if there was agreement on a bypass road for Castletownbere. He said that a decision on this matter would be crucial in the next few weeks and agreed that a separate public meeting be called. On the matter of St. Peter’s he said that it was very important that the green area in the centre of town be kept in the hands of the community. Fundraising would be necessary and he urged local business owners to support it.
Ella Harrington suggested that instead of calling a separate public meeting, it could be discussed here and now. Darren said this would not be fair at an AGM, it could be discussed at a matter pertaining to our town and community certainly but not finalised. Mark Golden offered the hotel’s function room to facilitate a public meeting in a few weeks’ time. Darren asked for a general feeling on the idea and the consensus was positive. Donal Kelly reiterated that a plan be drawn up to show the Council that the public are serious about being invoved.
Claire Power spoke about her difficulty in walking with a buggy through the town due to the poor condition of the road surfaces and footpaths. Local business owners park outside their own businesses and staff take up parking in the Square. She said a lot can be done by locals before the council have to do a “town plan.” Darren agreed that the condition of the footpaths was an ongoing issue. Also yellow lines have been worn away or are ignored. Claire suggested starting an initiative whereby businesses encourage their staff to park elsewhere, lead by example etc.
Kay Breen asked for clarification on the closure of the pier and loss of parking. Darren explained that it is an EU directive but that nothing is finalised yet. The Council and the Department realise how important the town and the pier are to eachother. However, with the possibility of a new bypass road, more parking could be created.
Annemarie Cronin asked that the discussion on the town plan halt until the separate public meeting. Darren agreed.
Mairead O’Driscoll spoke about her sister’s new charity We Climb We Care. It will be holding a charity walk in Lehanmore on Easter Sunday in aid of the local RNLI and Cancer Connect.
Pat Murphy suggested the reintroduction of the Slow Bicycle Race as part of the festival schedule of events. He also called for businesses to work together on the reintroduction of local tour busses.
Brendan Gonnelly asked if there will be portaloos in place whilst the town public toilets are being refurbished. Darren said he would look in to it and that the current toilets were a bad advertisement for the town. Andrea Lotty said that it was the upkeep and maintenance of them which is most crucial, Darren replied that that was the responsibility of the Council.
Ella Harrington commended the committee and there was a round of applause.
Meeting adjourned 10:00pm.