Mullingar and Athlone will be at the centre of a new brand which aims to promote the Midlands for business, tourism, education, and culture. Midlandsireland.ie, a joint venture between the Midlands Gateway Chamber and The Midland Regional Authority was launched in Tullamore on Wednesday evening, March 23, to a packed, enthusiastic audience of businesspeople, development groups, and public representatives.
Membership is free and companies, businesspeople, groups, and organisations are encouraged to become involved in the project which aims to promote Westmeath, Longford, Laois, and Offaly as one region.
Those same people are being asked to use the new brand logo as part of their own publicity as the organisers say working together gives the counties a stronger voice.
Director of the Midland Regional Authority Martin Daly said “The Midlands has a lot to offer and we want to tell everyone about it”.
This was echoed by guest speakers Ray Byrne of The Wineport Lodge, Glasson, Athlone, who spoke about the advantages of living and working in the region and the potential of the new brand to enhance that.
“A branded community, a collective community that is recognised outside of Ireland was highlighted in research into what the midlands region needs,” said Westmeath County manager, Danny McLoughlin, who addressed the 130 strong gathering.
‘That’s what this is about. It’s about collectivism. It’s about critical mass. It’s about understanding that each of the counties has a unique identity, that working together we can achieve a dynamic, productive region.’
The project will roll out in two phases with this first phase involving the gateway towns of Mullingar, Athlone, and Tullamore.
The emphasis will spread to Laois and Longford next year.
Already there are a number of events in the pipeline, including the Midlandsireland.ie awards which will take place in May to recognise who and what works well in the region.
But, says Paul O’Reilly, president of the Midlands Gateway Chamber, there will also be events focussing on food, farming, tourism, and social media. These are areas where the region can and does excel, he said.
There was an energetic presentation by John Teeling, director of Cooley Distillery who said the venture is necessary but will need everyone in the region to buy into it to succeed.
Writer, playwright, and Irish Times columnist Michael Harding spoke of his love for his adopted town of Mullingar and urged the organisers to “allow the arts to tell your story”.
He highlighted the importance of the arts and their potential to attract thousands of visitors to the region.
“Brand your place with the arts,” he said.
“The Midlands only representative at the cabinet, Minister of State, Willie Penrose from Westmeath, gave his first public address in support of the new brand.”