A model business that needs you

Model village1

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.”

Latest News Articles:

Global Shares to create 80 new jobs
Ford 100 Fest on Ford family farm to mark 100 years of Ford in Ireland
A Taste of West Cork Food Festival launches delectable programme
Healing with a harp
Plan the perfect wedding day at the Fota Island Resort Wedding Forum
Clutching at straws for Coalition
Lee’s and Nils: West Cork clubs in the city
The walk of a lifetime
West Cork farmers take gold at National Farmer of the Year Awards
Shining success for Union Hall Centra store at 2017 Quality Awards

Join us on Facebook

Dunmanway Historical Association regrets to announce that the talk on Sile na Gig which was to take place on Thursday, 24th August in Atkins hall @ 8:30pm has been cancelled. ... See MoreSee Less

18th August, 2017  ·  

This year Wild Atlantic Tag sponsored by Marine Harvest will take place in Adrigole on Saturday August 5th. All are welcome, whether you are a team entry or an individual looking to join a team. The teams will be divided into two sections, Social & Seriously Social! Please contact Sean (0879568363) or Joey (0879865827) to register. It promises to be great craic with plenty of refreshments available pre and post-match! Fantastic local musician Eoghan McEllhenny will entertain the rugby masses from 4.30pm followed by Peadar O’Callaghan and renowned Natural Gas will round off the night from 9.30pm! ... See MoreSee Less

14th July, 2017  ·  

A woodland walk will take place on the 22nd June at 7pm in Glengarriff Nature Reserve. This is a great opportunity to learn about woodlands, their plants and wildlife and is an opportunity not to be missed. Glengarriff Nature Reserve was designated as a Nature reserve in 1991, and covers over 300 acres in size. It is a beautiful and unique woodlands containing many different habitats and is owned and managed by NPWS primarily for conservation and amenity purposes. The event is led by National Parks Ranger Clare Heardman and has been organised by Cork Nature Network For further information please contact events@corknaturenetwork.ie ... See MoreSee Less

19th June, 2017  ·  

Jump to:

Top