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Sunday 23 October 2016

'Gift that keeps on giving' - locals believe project 'ticks all the boxes'

Grainne Loughran

Published 28/07/2016 | 02:30

Jenny White, who runs a gift and flower shop in Ballymahon Photo: Frank McGrath
Jenny White, who runs a gift and flower shop in Ballymahon Photo: Frank McGrath
Pat Byrne who runs Skelly's bar and restaurant on Main Street Picture: Frank McGrath

Locals in Ballymahon have described the Center Parcs development as "the gift that keeps on giving" and are hopeful it will revitalise the area.

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In recent years, Ballymahon was badly hit by unemployment and emigration, but residents are hopeful Center Parcs will herald in a new era.

Independent councillor Gerry Warnock said the development was "seismic in terms of job creation".

"It's the gift that will keep on giving," he said.

"It will be seismic for the county in terms of job creation, but also the opportunities we'll have to make a strong case for upgrading our local infrastructure, like broadband, the gas network, and the roads.

"The knock-on effect it will have in terms of local employment will be huge for hotels, guesthouses, pubs, restaurants, corner shops - everything."

Jenny White runs a gift and flower shop on Main Street, Ballymahon, and lives just down the road from the site.

She has no concerns about the development, although she says she probably won't spend much time there.

"I'm within walking distance to it, so I probably won't be going there on my holidays - maybe I'll go to one of the ones in the UK," she said.

"When they came down initially with the outline and plans, it came across that it won't be party central - it'll be more of a relaxing place. So it won't bother me at all. They have a fairly good track record with traffic management, so I'm not worried."

While 10pc of the forest in the area will be cleared, Center Parcs has said it will be replaced.

"The icing on the cake is that we get to keep our lovely forest," said Pat Byrne (right), who runs Skellys bar and restaurant on Main Street.

"In time it probably would have been chopped down for commercial timber anyway. It's a clean industry - it's not smoke and smog. It ticks all the boxes for this area. We're really looking forward to welcoming the Center Parcs delegation when they come."

Chairman of the Ballymahon GAA club, Christy Mannion, hopes that the development will attract some of those who have left the area back to the locality.

Cooneys hotel owner Michael Cooney says those who made appeals to prevent the development from going ahead didn't have all of the information on the project.

"This is a win-win situation. Anybody that thinks anything else has no idea of the project at all," he said.

Irish Independent

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