A SOFT blanket of snow covered Claremorris on Thursday last. Still, its position as one of the most progressive urban centres in Mayo was plain to be seen in the many new buildings dotted along every street.
It is doing well, but there is room for further improvement, as the President of the Claremorris Chamber of Commerce, John Killeen, explained.
“If Claremorris is to continue to thrive and develop one of our most immediate concerns is the development of a top-class transport system to and from the region. We are anxious that the Western Rail Corridor reach completion as soon as possible. We need the northern half of the line to progress to tender stage, ensuring that there is a link to Sligo. At present upgrade works are being carried out on the Galway and Clare tracks. As far as we are concerned transport is key. We need our public representatives to lobby for the development of a top-class N60 route way, linking the west, via Roscommon, to Dublin, while we would also hope for an extension of the Tuam bypass to link with the proposed Dublin to Galway motorway,” said Mr Killeen.
A number of developments in the past year have elevated the status of the south Mayo town. The announcement last July of the proposed decentralisation of 150 jobs from the Office of Public Works to Claremorris was a major boost, while a further decentralisation plan for Knock will bring added benefits. Plans are also in place for the development of a CLÁR centre, on the site of Claremorris Town Hall. Allied with the recent opening of the McWilliam Park Hotel and the imminent arrival of multinational stores, Tesco and Aldi, Claremorris is most definitely on the up and up.
“Definitely we have had major boosts in the past year or so, in terms of commercial developments and of course the decentralisation plans. Furthermore, broadband is coming to the town and we are earmarked for connection to the gas line,” said Mr Killeen.
“We also intend to develop a centre which will house the local clubs such as the No Name club, youth club. The centre will have a four-screen cinema and a 1,000-seater theatre,” he continued.
But for all the positives, he stresses that there is further work to be done.
“We would very much hope to see the provision of an integrated rural system, with regular bus links between each town. Statistically, it is proven that over 70% of tourists never hire a car. If we are to continue to attract tourists to the west we need better transport and infrastructure for those who live here and those who wish to visit,” commented Mr Killeen.
“I would like to see a greater improvement around the town in terms of facilities for children. A lot of teenagers are forced to hang around at weekends as there is simply nothing to do. Also, the development of the town has been fantastic, but to accompany these commercial and residential developments we also need public car parks as pay and display limits the amount of time people can stay in the town.”
“I would say there needs to be more funding for local sporting organisations and greater recreational facilities for young people. In terms of things around the town I would like to see a greater emphasis on pedestrian safety – pedestrian crossings, more traffic lights. We also need better public transport. The bus timetable is completely insufficient and too limited.”
“One of the major issues in the area is the need for an improvement in public transport. The bus service provided by Bus Éireann is extremely limited, particularly for elderly people.”
“I think there needs to be a greater Garda presence around the town, as there never seems to be anyone available. Also, there is a huge problem developing after the pubs have closed with people hanging around. The Government seriously need to look at an after hours bus service and not pay lip service to the idea.”