Swanlinbar five year strategic plan launched. Back L-R: - Dessie Corrigan, Barry Brogan, Butcher; Collette McGovern, Tidy Towns Committee; Deputy Brendan Smith, Bernie O’Rourke, Cavan County Council; Tony McGovern, Hostel Manager; Sandy Holland, Cavan County Local Development; Ciara Murphy, Principal Scoil Mhuire Swanlinbar; Mark Lyons, Committee member; Breda O’Reilly, Tidy Towns Committee and Sylvia Young, Committee member. Front L-R: Cllr Brendan Fay, Cllr Aine Smith, Cllr John Paul Feeley, Allen McAdam, Director of MCA Consulting who outlined aspects of the strategy to the meeting; Francis O’Reilly, Chairperson of the Swanlinbar Development Association; Aisling McGovern, Secretary; Serena Prior, PRO and James McGovern, Committee.

Five year strategic plan launched in Swanlinbar

The residents of Swanlinbar and its hinterland assembled in Trivia House last Thursday night to hear details of the new five year strategic plan for the town.

Prepared by McAdam Consulting Services from Carrickmacross the plan is designed to provide a roadmap and a clear direction for the future social and economic development of the Swanlinbar area. The plan was formulated under the auspices of Swanlinbar Development Association with support from the IFA.

There are approximately 300 people living in the border town and its immediate surrounds, with amenities including one pub, a credit union, a garage, a butcher, gaelic football playing fields, two churches and a primary school.

The plan highlights the lack of post office, doctor’s surgery, pharmacy or other core services expected by a community in 2023.

This framework for the development and regeneration of the Swanlinbar area for the next five years and beyond, contains a series of actions that can be implemented over a number of phases and funded within that timescale.

Allen McAdam from MCA Consulting outlined key aspects of the strategic plan to the meeting.

The main objectives are to establish a “shared vision” for the future of Swanlinbar, to set out policies, projects and practical guidance on the management and enhancement of the public realm in the town.

To develop a pipeline of practical and deliverable projects that can be undertaken by the local community in partnership with local businesses and property owners and the local authority and statutory bodies over the next five years.

Also to identify practical measures to optimise quality of life for residents and to enhance the village’s economic, social and environmental potential in terms of development.

Swanlinbar Spa Wells

In the 18th century, people from all over England and Europe flocked to the three Spa Wells near the village to drink the water, which is rich in naturally occurring minerals, such as sulphur, magnesium and iron. It was reputed that these minerals have healing qualities for various ailments including rheumatism, depression, scurvy and lack of appetite. A hotel located at the well in Gortoral hosted the visitors seeking cures.

It is amazing that in the late 1840s, Swanlinbar was a popular hub of the country for tourism and the hotels attracted the Irish Members of Parliament from Westminster, who used to adjourn down to the village for the summer, to partake in the Spa waters.

Over one in four of the labour force (28.1%) in the parish are involved in agriculture, which vastly contrasts to the national average (4.4%), and is much higher than the County Cavan rate of (11.3%).

Economic needs

The report details how Swanlinbar must ensure it benefits from its strategic location in the Geopark, suggests restoration of the former Garda Station complex as a tourist attraction, create employment locally, position the town as a staging post for tours of the local area and maintaining the viability of the town by attracting more people to live in the area.

Key aims of addressing dereliction, tourism and other development opportunities and the co-ordination and marketing of the area all featured strongly in the consultation engagement.

When residents were asked what they think are the main weaknesses of Swanlinbar they responded thus: The town looks very rough, shut down and neglected; it has received little to no funding from the Council; most young people move away when they finish school; there is no café/restaurant; and there is a lack of accommodation for visitors and tourists, there is no main shop to do the weekly shopping, too many closed businesses and buildings on the Main Street and very few retail and recreational facilities.

There should be more consultation with the local county council regarding potential rehousing of people to Swanlinbar.