WATCH: Businesses unite to save economy of Limerick town

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Email:

donal.oregan@limerickleader.ie

RATHKEALE businesses have teamed up to secure the town’s economy

Close to 50 business owners have joined together to form Team Rathkeale, a working group set on boosting the town’s economy. Its goal is to let shoppers know that their custom is always appreciated and never taken for granted; spreading Rathkeale’s good news; increasing footfall and asking the council for hands-on support. 

Derek Downes, owner of Rathkeale’s Eurospar, invited the town to meet after a chat with Paddy Fitzgerald of Sullivan’s Pharmacy about the slow business climate.

“Business was down because of the Covid precautions and some unwarranted downbeat publicity. We thought it was time to demonstrate that the town has lots to offer, is safe, trustworthy, and a great place to shop,” said Mr Downes.

On Wednesday, September 16, 30 business owners along with David Lamont and Pat Neville, of Rathkeale Community Council, got together for a frank discussion at the refurbished Rathkeale House Hotel. 

A number of decisions were taken. A steering committee, chaired by Mr Downes, was established with Triona Doody, Paddy Fitzgerald, David Lamont, Ann Madigan, Sarah Jane Murphy, and Eina Roche. It will meet regularly to review the business needs of the town. 

An action fund was created to which every business can contribute. It was agreed to “proactively tell the media, neighbouring communities, and local politicians about Rathkeale’s good news and fantastic facilities”. 

The district’s elected councillors, as well as Ministers Niall Collins and Patrick O’Donovan and Minister of State Niall Collins were contacted, encouraging them to improve Rathkeale by “focusing on the positive in the beautiful town”. The political outreach continues.

A logo based on #trustrathkeale and #teamrathkeale hashtags was created. It was agreed to jointly promote the trust theme throughout the town, demonstrating Rathkeale’s unity of purpose. A video, above, was also made. By last Friday Team Rathkeale had rapidly expanded to 48 founding members. 

They include: AIB Rathkeale, Anthony’s, Bank of Ireland Rathkeale, Beauty Bliss Beauty Clinic, Benjy’s, Billy Hourigan’s, Bloomers Restaurant, Bobby’s Hair Salon, Café C, Celtfab, Ciara's, Community Charity Shop, Deel Bakery, Deel Motor Factors, Deel Veterinary Clinic, Downes Eurospar, Eric Mc Racing, Fahy Environmental, Five Roads Filling Station, Giltenane’s Pharmacy, Glow Sarah Jane, Hair By Alison, John Dinnage Menswear, Kathleen’s Bar, Kays Hair Salon, Kerry Agri Business Rathkeale, Lawlor Fuels, Lawlor’s Hackney, Layna’s Beauty Rooms, Liam Chawke Electrical, Mandarin Palace, Nicole’s Acrylic Nails, O’Gairbhi’s Newsagents , O'Sullivan’s Bar, O'Sullivan’s Iron Works, O'Sullivan’s Pharmacy, Patsy’s Fashions, Rathkeale Barbers, Rathkeale Credit Union, Rathkeale House Hotel, Sean Hennessy Electrical Superstores, Tadgh O’Connor’s, The Black Lion, The Reflection Rooms, The Washboard, Tyre Stop, Viviprint, Whites Foodstore and Filling Station, and Scanlan Auctioneering.

There is an air of positivity as Rathkeale welcomed a HSE Covid-19 testing centre that helped visitors without the need for a doctor’s referral or pre-existing conditions. 

Rathkealers then helped Limerick’s vulnerable with food donations in Eurospar to Food For Ireland, an organisation addressing the unprecedented demand on charities and communities affected by the pandemic.

Last Friday week, Mayor Michael Collins opened the Rathkeale Welcome Centre with its Failte Ireland Tourist Point, along with 27 dignitaries in the community hall. 

David Lamont, Rathkeale champion and PRO of the community council, said: “Our neighbours from Adare, Askeaton, Ballingarry, Croagh and Newcastle West already appreciate Rathkeale and we appreciate them. We look forward to seeing them every day and invite those who have never been to experience our friendly town.”

The good work continued this week when the steering committee met with the district’s elected councillors and the executive board of Limerick City and County Council.

Mr Downes thanked Cllr Adam Teskey for facilitating this meeting on behalf of Rathkeale. It covered the topics important to the town’s economy.

Team Rathkeale makes a number of points about the town. Home to 1,700 people, it will be soon at the elbow of the new Foynes to Limerick motorway, about 20 minutes from many of the 94,000 people in the city.

Crime reports to the Rathkeale garda station have fallen dramatically and remain near a 10-year low. The average residential property value is around €139,000, making Rathkeale a very affordable place to live.