CARRIGALINE is a town on the cusp of a wave, according to local figures who say the soaring population, and much-needed infrastructure in the pipeline, will help the area to reach its full potential.
Fianna Fáil councillor Seamus McGrath highlighted the development activity in the town at the moment, including progress on the Carrigaline Western Relief Road and the Carrigaline Transportation and Public Realm Enhancement Plan (Tprep), the Carrigaline Education Campus under construction, and the Ballinrea Road upgrade.
“It’s getting busy again, you notice more people around, and the silver lining of Covid, if there is one, is the reimagining of outdoor space with outdoor dining etc,” he said.
“The park has been exceptionally busy as well.”
Mr McGrath, who is the father of two young children, said he felt they were lucky and fortunate to be growing up in an area with so much potential and such a vibrant community.
“There are lots of good things happening,” said Mr McGrath.
“Things are beginning to take shape, we are seeing the benefit of plans being implemented.”
The local councillor described the Tprep as a “gamechanger” and said the next year would see a lot of positive movement in the town.
“It will change the way we see transport and bring a focus to the public realm and the Owenabue river that runs through the town. It is what is needed and it is progressing quickly.”
In terms of the local society, Fine Gael councillor Liam O’Connor, who is also the Tidy Towns chairperson in the town, said the lockdowns and time apart gave the community a renewed appreciation for the social side of their lifestyles.
“The Carrigline Tidy Towns group usually meet on a Wednesday afternoon and a Saturday morning and after the work we would always have a flask of tea or go for a coffee, but during the pandemic, we had a rota and people just did the jobs individually,” said Mr O’Connor.
“We are slowly getting back to normal now and it is nice.”
A big attraction in Carrigaline that sprung from the pandemic was the Carrigaline parklet, located in the Owenabue carpark. The idea was initially brought forward through Project ACT and, due to the popularity of the outside seating area, surrounded by plants, the initiative is being expanded with more benches and greenery being installed.
“It is doubling in size, we have five more benches with landscaping and it is a great social area,” said Mr O’Connor.
“It has transformed the centre of the town. People go and get a coffee and walk to the parklet to have a chat safely outdoors in the parklet.
“It is safe and social, it has been very well received by the community, there has been great feedback. I’m delighted.”
The Tidy Towns chairperson also said that it is clear more and more people are getting out and about and involved in outdoor activities.
“I think there are a lot of people rediscovering old hobbies like walking, cycling, kayaking etc. Kayaking has really taken off in Carrigaline, you could have 30 kayakers out at a time in the river.”
Mr O’Connor also mentioned that the Carrigaline Community Complex is now offering hot-desking spots for people to work from a hub with wifi and printing facilities.
“There are five desk spaces available, with all the office facilities; you can book on the website www.carrigaline.ie.”
Secretary of the Carrigaline GAA Alan Murphy also said that the pandemic has been a time of great activity, with the GAA club joining forces with the camogie team and ladies football to repaint their headquarters.
The club also raised almost €30,000 for Pieta House.
“When the lockdown happened, we stopped lock, stock, and barrel and one of our senior footballers was the brainchild behind Run for Pieta which became a county-wide initiative and raised €1m across 100 clubs for the suicide prevention charity,” said Mr Murphy.
Carrigaline GAA raised €29,000 by running continuously in one-hour relays for 72 hours.
“There were players running at all hours of the day and night, it was a great initiative.”
When the club got back up, there was a huge uptake in the sport, said Mr Murphy, with Carrigaline fielding three full adult teams for football and hurling, something they hadn’t achieved in a number of years.
“There was a lot of paperwork in getting everyone back out on pitches, but it was worth it to see the kids running around enjoying themselves.”
Mr Murphy said the committee showed great initiative in sorting out the return to pitch forms and that the teamwork displayed by all was exemplary.
“On the first night back, there was a lot of people making sure everything was right and there was great relief to be back to some semblance of normality.”
Mr Murphy said there was still a long way to go, but that it was great to be on the road to recovery.
“We still have our meetings by Zoom or Teams and we still don’t use the dressing rooms, but we have the Cúl camps back up and running for the summer and they are going well.
“We have had no issues so far, thankfully. Everyone is doing their best.”
He said a lot of people are coming back to the sport.
“We have a social game on a Monday for older players, you know, lads who think they can still play! It’s a bit of craic.”
Mr Murphy said money is always a worry for the club, making sure they can keep the doors open, but that they are in the final stages of organising a farmers market in the club carpark and have their fingers crossed for the go-ahead of the annual golf classic at Fota in aid of the club on July 30.
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