The Importance of the ‘Master Plan’ for Castleisland and its Environs

From a Distance: Castleisland and its environs will benefit from the implementation of ‘The Master Plan’ for which consultants are now submitting their tenders to Kerry County Council – according to Castleisland Chamber Alliance Chairman, Michael John Kearney. ©Photograph: John Reidy
Friends in high places: At the April 2023 Glounsharoon summit with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern were St. Patrick’s Secondary School student, Shea Lawless with Castleisland Chamber Alliance Chairman, Michael John Kearney and St. Patrick’s Secondary School Deputy Principal, Tim Long. ©Photograph: John Reidy  20-4-2023

While dismissing out of hand any notion that Castleisland Chamber Alliance and its associates are merely a gaggle of innocent bystanders in the arena of local development, its chairman Michael J. Kearney listed a menu of positivity to be bestowed on the town and its environs over the next couple of years.

Mr. Kearney then went to town on me during our meeting over mugs of tea at The Forge on Thursday afternoon last week.

While insisting that much of his group’s work is, of necessity, behind the scenes he unveiled a raft of planned development which is beginning to unwind itself from a meeting of the chamber with members of the Castleisland-Corca Dhuibhne Municipal District last July.

Progress is Being Made

The meeting involved local councillors Cllr. Fionnan Fitzgerald, Cllr. Charlie Farrelly and Cllr. Jackie Healy Rae; council officials: Christy O’Connor, Annmarie Lynch, Breda Mulryan, Jimmy O’Leary; chamber Chairman Michael J Kearney and heads of community organisations.

Mr. Kearney said that progress is being made and many matters have been removed from the ‘things to do’ list, thanks to the co-operation of the municipal district and local councillors – and a lot of funding has been secured that enables work to start shortly on some key projects.

Mr. Kearney insists that the priority now is the ‘Master Plan’ for the town which will free-up finances under the Town and Village Regeneration Scheme in the future.

To survive and thrive, this plan will be dependent on the co-operation of the people of the town and surrounding areas and the community groups which operate within the area.

Extensive Consultation Process

There will be an extensive consultation process with all interested parties in the area. If you are someone who has an opinion on how the town should proceed from here – count yourself into the process.

A sample of the plan’s outlook takes in work on Church Street where an upgraded pedestrian crossing may be a requirement with the large volume of activity in the area.

The long suffering residents of Barrack Street are to have a road plan to deal with in the context of the plan.

Area engineer Jimmy O’Leary is to look at Glounsharoon Viewing Point with proposals for a sign to be erected announcing the facility and the view to visitors. There’s also a suggestion that the walls fronting on to the road be upgraded with murals or painted and due to the harsh environment there the plants are failing.

River-walk Takeover

The river-walk takeover and makeover which began last month is an item on the vast menu that’s already making a huge and welcome impression on the people of the locality. The tackling of the work and timely completion is a praiseworthy matter in the area among the many locals who use the facility daily.

There are issues of dog fouling on public spaces, including the river-walk, with a handful of pet owners identified and, on the street, the food / rest huts not being maintained is an issue.

Here, the chamber has requested that ownership needs to be established. Clearly, that will have its own implications with insurance and responsibility coming into play.

Tuesday’s Hour of Volunteerism

Seating for the elderly at various intervals on the street is seen as a need by all and refuse bin collection is also under the scope as is the communication with schools regarding discipline.

In the area of Tidy Towns, bank holidays and Christmas periods are important times of coverage due to large number of visitors at those times.

Since last year an increase in the group of volunteers has been in place and the well established Tuesday evening hour of volunteerism is ongoing and holding its numbers.

The new committee is headed by John Breen and all involved send best Wishes to Sheila Hannon on her recovery.

Based on activity and evidence there is confidence of another advance in marks at the 2024 adjudications.

Search for Civic Building

Currently, the already mentioned Master Plan is the process of having a consultant appointed and submissions from likely candidates are being considered.

Then, in a process likely to take until later this year, the appointed consultant will bring a draft back for public consultation.

The Michael John Kearney led chamber alliance is also hoping to identify a ‘civic building’ as a matter of immediacy around which the town centre will pivot.

This, the chamber sees as catering for civic and youth activity which they forecast will increase with the influx of population on Killarney Road as the 67 houses there are occupied.

The options in the chamber’s view are: the ground floor of JK O’Connors; the Ivy Leaf Art Centre or the Carnegie Building in totality enabling the extension of the Hub capacity upstairs and a civic centre downstairs.

Greenway Connections

There is a plan for ‘Greenway Connections’ and a county plan is before the members and that too is to be followed by a process of consultation.

A Castleisland Town Park initiative and funding proposals is being looked at in conjunction with the river-walk development as is the promotion of a tourism product for Castleisland district, Sliabh Luachra, Knightsmountain and Lyrecrompane areas with meetings planned with Kerry County Council’s tourism department.

Other topics under the scope of the chamber is the severe lack of accommodation of all kinds in the region which is limiting the development of the town with regards to big events.

Trough traffic is another problem which has come to light very recently as Google is sending heavy traffic via Cordal and Glountane to Cork and this is resulting in traffic hazards at various locations on the way and at dangerous turns.

Creamery Lane Traffic

Internal town traffic on Creamery Lane is should be on a one-way system as a mitigation of the dangers to residents stepping out their doors onto the lane.

An agreement has been reached with Castleisland Co-Op Mart and a new boundary fence is in place with road upgrading there now on the cards.

The resurfacing of the road to An Ríocht Athletic Club at The Crageens was welcomed and it was suggested that the Creamery Lane / Mart and An Ríocht loop should be named.

Not all the items on the chamber’s agenda got an airing at that July meeting but there were some notable omissions not favoured by time constraints.

Garda Eugene Roundabout to Cahernard

Among these were: Proposals for a footpath from the Garda Eugene Leonard Roundabout on Killarney Road to the nearby Cahernard – the provision of which would complete a safe loop with Tralee Road along the southern by-pass.

“The importance of the ‘Master Plan’ funding is that it should lead to a town plan to be agreed after public consultation and the liberation of substantial funding for the regeneration of the town and its environs,” said Mr. Kearney. So now!

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