The new president of Castlebar Chamber, Oliver Kelleher, will have The Gathering Ireland 2013 as his main focus for the coming year.
A keen supporter of the tourism initiative, Mr Kelleher said in his inaugural speech at the chamber AGM last Thursday night, that Castlebar should be “the capital of the Gathering” given that it was “An Taoiseach Enda Kenny who mooted it the first day ever”.
Mr Kelleher is no stranger to the role of president having held the same position 15 years ago.
“To take over is a pleasure,” he told the AGM adding that he was conscious of the huge commitment involved. He said the chamber was “worth keeping going” and that it was in a very healthy situation having made €1,000 profit last year. He complimented chamber treasurer Caroline Gordon and the outgoing committee for their efforts in bringing in a profit in what was a very difficult trading year.
In relation to The Gathering Mr Kelleher said: “We have only one chance to make a first impression and we should make a go of it.”
He expressed his disappointment that Castlebar Chamber was one of only 20 groups out of 150 applicants to Fáilte Ireland for Gathering funding to be refused. However, having met with the marketing director of Fáilte Ireland at a briefing in Breaffy House Resort last Thursday morning, Mr Kelleher said he would use his offer of support in terms of advertising local Gathering events through the tourism body.
The first project the newly elected president hopes to spearhead is the compilation of a video of the county’s assets which could be circulated abroad on St Patrick’s Day by any dignitaries from the county travelling abroad to celebrate the festival.
It’s his hope that the publicity that will be garnered from The Gathering will set Castlebar up for years to come.
Mr Kelleher will be focusing on the “can do” rather than what can’t be achieved over the coming year. Rates, bank charges, and banks’ attitudes to business are all real concerns which he hopes to address. He also wants a report to be conducted into signage around the town. The provision of public toilets is another item on his wish list, as is the possibility of pedestrianising Main Street, if even only for a trial basis to see will it work.
Partnership will be one of the main themes of his presidency - getting people in all areas of the town to work with the chamber. “If people are prepared to support the chamber I’m prepared to put in the hours,” he said.