A model business that needs you

Posted on: 6th August, 2014

Category: Headlines

Contributor: Sheila Mullins

On July 23, a celebration was held at The West Cork Model Railway Village in Clonakilty to mark its 20 years in business. A huge amount of work has taken place recently to restore this amenity to its former glory, following years of erosion by the salty sea air. Sheila Mullins went along to view the new exhibits and find out more about how the Model Railway Village was conceived, and what its future holds.

When the Model Village was originally constructed, its buildings were made of wood and resin and, while they looked amazing for many years after, recently they had begun to crack and fade due to the salty air and successive severe winters. A renovation plan was launched last year, with each building recast in tough fiberglass and hand-painted in the workshop. Emmet Square was replanted; horses and carts were delayed while roads were resurfaced; leaky roofs were replaced; the café carriages got more than just a lick of paint; new figurines were modelled to enliven the street scenes and extra trains were added to the complex of tracks that meander around the towns of West Cork. Today the Model Railway Village is back to its former glory, in fact it is better than ever!

Committee members Charlie Cullinane and Nora Walsh with Cork County Mayor Alan Coleman at the 20th Anniversary celebrations

Committee members Charlie Cullinane and Nora Walsh with Cork County Mayor Alan Coleman at the 20th Anniversary celebrations

Since its official opening in July 1994 by then President Mary Robinson, the Model Railway Village has become part of Clonakilty’s identity; a symbol of the prosperity and growth that the entire town enjoyed through the 1990s and 2000s. However the idea was conceived at a very different time. Many in attendance remembered the town as having always been as smart and cheerful as it is today and it came as a shock to see the slideshow presented by former town architect Billy Houlihan, which depicted the current library as a roofless ruin and a field of weeds where the ‘Smartie Houses’ now stand.

This was what the town looked like in the late 80s and early 90s, looking worse-for-wear and with high unemployment and no indigenous industry. A group of like-minded individuals, including “Mr Tourism” Charlie Cullinane, came together to brainstorm about setting up an amenity that would not only be a tourist attraction for the town, but also provide training and employment with the help of FÁS. The Model Railway Village was born and today, with almost 800,000 visitors having passed through its doors and 200 employees trained and graduating to mainstream employment, it has to be deemed a massive success for its entirely voluntary committee.

However at the reception, Treasurer John Brosnan informed everyone that the future of the Model Railway Village was uncertain without a concerted effort by all local businesses and residents to support and promote the amenity to visitors. In the last number of years government grants, which the committee heavily relied on, have been slashed. Pobal, an organisation that manages various funding programmes on behalf of the Irish Government, has asked every funded project to submit a three-year business plan to be eligible going forward.

The business plan, which was outlined at the reception, has a strong basis following the extensive renovations that have recently taken place. The committee is devoted to making the Model Railway Village a leading cultural and historical attraction by continuing to enhance the facilities and attractions at the site and by collaborating with other attractions in Cork County to create feeder routes. By making it a ‘must-see’ they plan to grow visitor numbers by seven to 10 per cent year on year and therefore become less dependent on outside funding. John Brosnan emphasised that the new Wild Atlantic Way was a fantastic opportunity for the Model Village to “reboot and relaunch the project” – an opportunity the committee would seize.

He finished up by reminding people present about the value of the Model Village to the economy of Clonakilty, asking everyone to, “Come on board and play your part.”

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13th April, 2018  ·  

An evening on the 'Balance of Feeling Good' by Clonakilty Gaa Club Health and Wellbeing Committee followed by Guest Speaker, Cork GAA Chairperson, Tracey Kennedy.

Paddy Duggan, former Principal of Clonakilty Community College, will be MC on the night, facilitating a discussion on getting the balance of feeling good.
Contributors on the night are Colm Sheehy, Conor Murray, David Lowney, Denis Murphy, Eoghan Deasy, Sean McEvoy, Thomas Clancy and Treasa O'Brien.
Topics covered will range from awareness and responsibility to yourself and others to the benefits of exercise and nutrition.
The evening is suitable for everyone aged 16 and over from players, members of the community, parents of young and adolescent children, etc.

This is a public event, free of charge and everyone is invited and very welcome to attend.
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12th April, 2018  ·  

The Cast of Harold Pinter’s ‘No Man’s Land’ are on their way to the All-Ireland finals, having won 26 awards, including five best of Festivals, at the Amateur Drama League of Ireland annual three act festivals. The play ‘No Man’s Land, by Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize Winning Author is directed by Jennifer Williams.

One last opportunity to view this multi award winning play at Skibbereen Town Hall, on Saturday 14th of April, before the finals.

Having met by chance in a pub, two aging writers continue a long night of drinking and reminiscing in a stately London home. As the night wears on, their conversation wanders through memories long forgotten or invented. Is their encounter real or a delusion? Are they strangers or do they share a past history? When unexpected guests intrude upon an increasingly surreal evening, the atmosphere quickly changes from friendly to threatening, and the encounter becomes a game of survival.

Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by emailing schulldramagroup@gmail.com

For more information please contact hilary.mccarthy6@gmail.com
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9th April, 2018  ·  

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