Reviving, surviving and thriving

The streets of Castlebar are being revived over the coming days with the Heart of Castlebar Street Festival. The three day festival, which commenced yesterday (Thursday ) offers plenty of local shopping promotions and super discounts in local stores. Free family fun and entertainment will fill the pedestrian friendly streets and the official launch will take place on Saturday at 12.30pm, at the junction of Main Street and Castle Street, by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. Hopefully people will turn out and support this proactive festival, which will generate much needed money for the local economy.

Ballina recently saw the benefit of hosting a festival as their annual Ballina Salmon Festival is estimated to have brought €20 million to the banks of the River Moy. Elsewhere, Westport are soon kicking off their Fiver Friday campaign. The idea was initially developed on Liveline with Joe Duffy; the premise of which is for everyone to spend €5 on Fridays in their local towns. Westport are taking this idea on board and from July 29, shops, pubs and restaurants in the town will have €5 offers on Fridays, for five weeks.

Supporting such local initiatives will revive businesses and keep money in the local economy; the ethos of which the Mayo Advertiser have backed, with the launch of our Buy Mayo campaign which took place at the beginning of the month.

It is important to spend whatever money you have locally, even in harshest of circumstances as people try to financially survive. The July What’s Left tracker, from the Irish League of Credit Unions, showed that a quarter of us have less than €20 a week to live on after paying bills. With the price of petrol thought to increase again, with global markets indicating a rise in price of a barrel of oil, perhaps a way to save money in the commute to work, while also helping the environment, is to sign up for a smarter travel, car sharing campaign.

This week the National Transport Authority launched, where you can sign up for free and register to share lifts to work. Already several large business organisations have signed up and with petrol about to peak again, and the possibility of new tolls on the roads, this scheme is one which will benefit everyone.

This may assist in penny pinching, however the Irish League of Credit Unions tracker also found that 45 per cent of those who have less than five per cent of their income left at the end of the month felt that they have no future here, as they were “living to work as opposed to working to live”. Emigration is bumping up the amount of Irish diaspora throughout the world, however, building on the connections with these diaspora and strengthening our relationships with them may in fact help local communities once again thrive. One Galway businessman, Mike Feerick, saw the possibility of building on this concept and launched a very successful project—Ireland Reaching Out.

Starting in his local community, Mike asked for information on those who have emigrated and hosted a Week of Welcomes for these emigrants to return home for a visit and reconnect with their community. As the week was tremendously successful, it is hoped to roll out the Ireland Reaching Out project nationally, with the assistance of Fáilte Ireland.

With 70 million Irish people worldwide, bringing people back on visits to their homeland is a huge business potential as it will boost the local tourist trade, which in turn will see the diaspora’s ancestral communities once again thrive.

Geraldine Carr [email protected]


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