Friday 18 August 2017

The village that wants you to make the big switch - and rent is just €100 a week

KiltyLive committee member Natasha Pearson with her dog Puca. Photo: Justin Farrelly
KiltyLive committee member Natasha Pearson with her dog Puca. Photo: Justin Farrelly

Sorcha O'Connor

Wanted: families to move to a picturesque rural village where rent costs less than €100 a week.

The villagers in Kiltyclogher in north Co Leitrim are appealing for families to consider moving to their hometown.

With a population of just 233, Kiltyclogher is steeped in history, has all the amenities a family could want - and an extremely welcoming neighbourhood.

Four roads converge to form the centre of the picturesque village where a statue of Seán Mac Diarmada, a signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and former resident of the area, stands pride of place.

Mac Diarmada once had great ambitions of becoming a teacher and in a rather poignant coincidence, the small community is now scrambling to save the school named in honour of the 1916 hero.

Locals have launched a nationwide campaign 'KiltyLive' to advertise their rural community in the hope that city dwellers will opt to move to the north Leitrim village.

A statue of Seán Mac Diarmada in the town. Photo: Justin Farrelly
A statue of Seán Mac Diarmada in the town. Photo: Justin Farrelly

There is a very real, serious reason to ramp up the campaign as they are looking for families to enrol their children in the local school. The primary school in Kiltyclogher currently has 14 pupils and if another family does not move to the area soon to enrol just one more student, the school will lose one of its two teachers.

The KiltyLive campaign began with a community meeting in the local community hall in July. With 30 people in attendance, many had made the transition from urban to rural life themselves and were keen to put Kiltyclogher on the map for other families.

Caroline Rock and her husband Kieran, who are involved in the campaign, moved from Dublin in 1998 through a Rural Resettlement scheme, and raised their family there.

She said when the family were searching for somewhere to relocate to they fell in love with the beauty of the Kiltyclogher area.

Carol McGowan in Kiltyclogher, Co Leitrim, where the locals have started a campaign to urge families to move to their community. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Carol McGowan in Kiltyclogher, Co Leitrim, where the locals have started a campaign to urge families to move to their community. Photo: Justin Farrelly

"The house we were renting was put up for sale. We had two small children at the time, and we were offered Ballymun. We were there a year-and-a-half and found it really difficult to adjust to. We had heard about rural resettlement at the time and they brought us to see a few places around the country," she said.

"We came here and we were immediately struck by the beauty of the place. There was everything here we needed, it was the best move we could have made. The kids grew up here and were really happy. There was no worry about crime."

Like many rural towns, Kiltyclogher has seen a decline in local businesses in recent years.

However, with close proximity to Sligo and an emerging entrepreneurial spirit, things are looking up.

A distinctive property in Kiltyclogher. Photo: Justin Farrelly
A distinctive property in Kiltyclogher. Photo: Justin Farrelly

Graphic designer Carol McGowan explained how she discovered a whole new world of opportunity when she moved from Dublin just a few months ago. Ms McGowan had struggled to make ends meet when she was involved in a surfing accident and broke her neck in 2009. Since moving to Kiltyclogher, her life has turned and she has started up her business heartstone.ie, which supplies unique headstones and memorials.

"I've come from the situation where I've actually done this, I've moved here. I set up as a designer when I moved here. I've been able to tap into cross-Border funding, we've a great leader group in nearby Drumshambo and, with another business idea I have I've also had access to Enterprise Ireland funding through New Frontiers, a scholarship programme in Sligo IT," she said.

"There are a lot of supports for micro-businesses and a very healthy start-up community in the north-west. Anyone with something like a tech idea that doesn't need to be in an office, it's ideal around here to focus on it. You can also go to the Manorhub in Manorhamilton which has hot desks and anything you need. From a self-employment point of view, I'm living it."

As it stands, the community has two houses ready to rent for less than €100 a week, with rent allowance considered. Local supermarket Stella's caters for every need - it is the home of the post office, petrol pump, as well as groceries, with a mobile butcher also driving through daily.

The Cosy Corner pub owned by Bostonian Maura Weir, whose mother was originally from Kiltyclogher, is also a cornerstone of the community where locals meet to socialise, enjoying Maura's pizzas and burgers with a pint. Mother of a newborn, she joked that while her baby was a bit too young to enrol in the school, she couldn't recommend the locality more to young families.

Maura Weir with her son Martin (14 weeks). Photo: Justin Farrelly
Maura Weir with her son Martin (14 weeks). Photo: Justin Farrelly

"I love everything it stands for, and it is a great environment to raise children," she said.

As for all-important wifi connection, Eircom and NetOne provide broadband in the area, with the best phone coverage being supplied by Three.

There have already been a few enquiries made to the committee from potential new residents, and if you think you'd like to make the change, you can find the campaign on Facebook @Kiltylive or email kiltylive@gmail.com.

Irish Independent

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