Shay O'Riordan, CEO West Limerick Resources; Mike Boyce, Consulting Engineers; Seamus Murphy, chairman of Kilmeedy Development Group and Cllr John Sheahan | PICTURE: Dave Gaynor
A MAJOR milestone in Kilmeedy’s journey of community building was passed this week with the beginning of work to develop and open its very own Community Shop and Cafe.
The project, spearheaded by Kilmeedy Community Development Group, will see the former Geary’s shop and post-office re-imagined and reshaped for community purposes.
The big hope is that it will bring new life back into the village and serve as a focal point for activities across all ages. Ultimately too, the backers hope it will help small enterprises in the area to develop.
Like so many rural communities, Kilmeedy has lost a lot of services over the years. Just 30 years ago, it had three shops and two pubs but about 12 years ago, the last of the shops closed and now just one public house operates.
“The absence of a shop for everyday essential supplies has made life difficult for residents of the village, especially for the elderly and those without transport,” explained Siobhan Reidy of the Development Group which determined to change all that and investigated the idea of a community shop and cafe.
Market research was carried out, the premises was identified and a lease obtained, and the work of costing the project was undertaken. A submission for Leader economic development funding proved successful, yielding €96,000 or 50% of the cost.
“The shop and café will provide a place to buy essential, householditems and a place for all who live and work in the area to meet and chat, have fresh and nutritious, locally sourced food and high- quality barista coffee,” Ms Reidy said. Up to 140 people a day come into Kilmeedy either to work or to take part in childcare or horticultural training programmes and these people, it is hoped, will provide a regular stream of customers to the facility.
“The shop will provide a space for local producers to sell their goods, while the café will provide training and employment opportunities and act as a production kitchen during off- peak hours for local food producers,” Ms Reidy explained.
The plans will also see the shop building linked to the adjacent Aras Ide, the training centre, opening up both buildings for a number of multi-purpose functions, including social get-togethers.
The Development Group also hopes that the new community cafe could be used on specific evenings or nights as a youth centre. This would address the lack of facilities, other than sporting facilities, for young people in the area.
The hope is to have the work complete and the shop and cafe up and running by the autumn. Meanwhile, Clann Credo Community Finance is providing bridging and loan finance, while the Development Group spearheads a fund-raising campaign to raise its 50%.