independent

Friday 28 July 2017

Call for mini tourist office to draw visitors in

Country Matters: Ballisodare Village

St. John’s N.S. Ballisodare Principal David Dillon
St. John’s N.S. Ballisodare Principal David Dillon

Ballisodare village should look to it's past to secure it's future - that's according to one resident and local primary school principal David Dillon.

He believes some sort of mini-visitor centre revealing the villages' colourful past could act as a draw for tourists.

Just five miles from Sligo, Ballisodare is a popular village with first-time buyers and young families.

The village is marred on each side however by remnants of the Celtic Tiger. An enormous lump of grey concrete and shattered glass - the derelict Mill Apartments development - looms ominously over the northern entrance to the village, while to the southern end, lies the site of the old Dun Maeve Hotel, which was razed to the ground several years ago.

"First thing you see when you come over the bridge is rubble' It's a fantastic location for a restaurant. The village could do with some kind of drawing power," said David.

"The most striking thing about the village is the level of dereliction in it - no matter what side you come from there are unfinished buildings, unoccupied buildings," he said.

"For such a scenic village, it's an awful pity. It sets the tone, people wouldn't be inclined to stop," he said. He believes the County Council have a role to play as they initially granted planning permission for the derelict developments.

"They need to put measures in place to sort it out quickly, because we have an awful lot going for us with our proximity to the Wild Atlantic Way," he said.

He believes something more should be made of both the village's natural beauty and location along the Wild Atlantic Way and it's history.

"The Falls are fabulous and there's no signage for that beautiful attraction," he said.

The Mill Apartments are built on the site of a former mill and shipping company run by the wealthy merchant Pollexfen family, Yeat's grandparents.

The Pollexfen donated the site for the current school in 1954 according to David.

"There's a huge amount of history and there should be a visitor centre or interpretative centre to tell people about the history of the village.

"A lot of the workforce in the Mill lived here, their sons and daughters would have gone to work at a young age. They had their own electricity supply, transport, completely self-sustainable. It's a pity that's been forgotten, the link with WB Yeats as well," he said.

"People are forgetting about our history," he claims. "Some sort of mini-tourist centre would act as a focal point."

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