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The Youghal Concerned Citizens Group held its latest meeting on Tuesday May 24th in the Red Store. Secretary Adrian Hyde opened proceedings with issues arising from the previous meeting. He spoke of the group’s inaugural meeting with Town Clerk Liam Ryan having gone well. Mr. Ryan had been supportive, “in principle” on various, voluntary initiatives such as litter clean-ups, painting and restoration work, etc, provided insurance issues were met. This is being addressed with hopes high of a successful outcome.
More specifically, Mr Hyde reported that the town council was negotiating with Iarnrod Eireann on clearing the old railway site and the group’s participation in this remains undecided. Other issues to which his report referred were:
Youghal beaches/casual trading: Youghal Town Council’s jurisdiction extends to the start of Claycastle and provides for three casual trading licences. Cork County Council manages beyond that has no provision at all for same.
Road Signage: Problems recur with the NRA, while the county council informed David Stanton TD that the signage denoting Youghal from the bypass “is adequate.” Not many agreed.
Board Walk: Youghal Town council has secured €137,000 funding from Failte Ireland (75% of total needed) and was preparing to go to tender. The three month project would commence next spring but Cork County Council has not yet secured funding for its section from Claycastle to Redbarn.
Clock Gate: The KPMG feasibility study to renovate the structure had been completed. Funding had been secured from South Coast Enterprise Board for a business plan that had been conducted and is yet to be adopted formally by the council . A conservation plan has been compiled and was funded by SECAD. Thereafter funding has to be acquired for the actual work itself, which includes a ground floor reception area, a first floor presentation area for arts and crafts, a second floor reconstruction of the jail, a third floor virtual observation desk and a rooftop viewing desk area. The entire project is funding-dependent and is thus stalled.
Mr. Norman MacDonald said there had been a hugely positive response from restaurants in the area, with practically all of them committed to entering the contest to create the definitive Youghal Bay Fish Pie recipe. Internationally-renowned adjudicators, recruited by marketing manager Tim Magee, are being sourced. The judging and award ceremony is set to occur at Nealon’s Quay on Saturday July 2nd.
Teddy Bear’s Picnic
Ms Paula Tutty spoke on a planned Teddy Bears’ Picnic family day in the green Park for July 3rd. The main obstacles centred on funding and insurance. It was considered charging businesses to trade by way of raising funds. Bouncy castles will not feature due to high insurance, which would probably necessitate charging for their use. The group is in the process of acquiring quotes for general insurance for the event. The Walter Raleigh had agreed to make its premises available as an alternative venue in the event of bad weather , while Youghal GAA chairman David Kilgannon, said that club’s premises would be freely available if need be also.
Michael De Buitleir urged that they join Cork County Council’s Community and Voluntary Forum whereby access to reasonable insurance quotes would be possible –amongst other benefits, not least enhanced credibility and respect.
With advertising, volunteers and entertainment also hurdles to be cleared, it was accepted that a lot of hard work in a short space of time was needed and the wider group pledged support. Word emerged that publisher Ger Flanagan had promised assistance in the marketing area as the commitment to making gains for this summer season was endorsed.
Mr MacDonald said that sourcing information on tour buses was going well. Four new companies had begun visiting Youghal since the group had started. These, along with others, were being provided with information on Youghal, with emphasis on history, food and natural beauty. Nonetheless, many companies were still bypassing the town or driving straight through except for toilet stops. Mr. MacDonald had met personally with some operators and had persuaded them to consider spending more time in the town, while the main emphasis was to entice visitors to holiday here in coming years.
Meanwhile it was agreed to acquire updated literature/pamphlets to give to the coach passengers. “Bloody Blarney is the first thing that hits you in the backside when you research on the web!” he informed, adding that the Tynte Castle was as good a tower as the “friggin’ old stone!” The main difference was promotion, promotion, promotion. A speaker from the floor said the town also needed keep abreast of fluctuating trends in global tourism, particularly as the town doesn’t have a singular big attraction. The Lonely Planet Guide and CIE were depicted as major targets for marketing, while locally more volunteers were needed to greet coach tours on arrival. It was also noted that many tourists don’t carry cash and it was not profitable for bars and cafes to make small refreshment sales through credit cards.
The chairman Jimmy Flanagan briefly referred to an unnamed person who had questioned the validity of volunteers meeting bus passengers and cited a €2,500 survey having been undertaken to address coach tourism. Mr Flanagan said he had invited the person to attend the meeting with a view to sharing information and working in co-operation. Unfortunately the offer had not been accepted. “We welcome all individuals and organisations here. Everyone has something to give,” he concluded.
In deference to the seaside survey undertaken by the Owen Budds, it was agreed to lobby Cork County Council on casual trading licences. The local authority was also to be asked whether they have given any consideration to providing showers in the area. Mr Budds said Cllr Barbara Murray had agreed to further the request and also to assist with funding and costing inquiries. A viable proposal for such provision could and would be made to Cork County Council once a proper and detailed costing procedure was completed.
The related matter of public toilets, the meeting heard that funding restraints meant the county council were preoccupied with maintaining the archaic structures they have, with better signage anticipated. Mr. Budds said other options included portaloos. Alternatively the far more expensive, Australian-designed, ‘Eco-loo,’ was an option, being chemical-free and self-biodegradable. “Advertisements can be placed the side to help generate funds,” he added, promising further information in time. Funding, as always, was the main issue and the group would be investigating possibilities. It was revealed also that a member of the public had volunteered to renovate the existing toilets, the omnipresent insurance issue notwithstanding.
Micheal De Buitleir said Youghal had failed in its application to participate in a TG4 series based on twelve non-Gaeltacht towns promoting Gaelic culture in a one day festival. The series carried a €40,000 marketing package as first prize. Mr De Buitleir, said TG4 adjudicators had found Youghal did not seem very partial to promoting the culture & language (e.g. the Tidy Towns had not sought Gaelic signage, Youghalonline.com had scant Gaelic content, etc. ) and had deduced that the town was only interested in the prize! However, a valuable lesson had been learned and there was time to correct the landscape for next year’s application. Mr De Buitleir also reminded the gathering that their efforts amounted to “social capital’ and they should not underestimate its value to the town and to local authorities, especially in these stringent times.
There was some discussion as to whether to “formally invite” other organisations and local councillors to meetings. While such presence would be welcomed, reassuring and possibly productive, it was also acknowledge that the meeting was a public event and maybe best represented by people attending through genuine interest as against polite response to an invitation. Mr. De Buitleir felt invitations were best issued only in deference to particular issues or perhaps to make a presentation on their work. Following much consideration and thought, it was nonetheless decided by a show of hands that invitations would be issued anyway in the interests of forging contacts and nurturing networks and relationships.
Mr. Flanagan spoke for everyone when he wished Red Store manager Mark Goldman best wishes for a full recovery after his recent ordeal during which his premises was robbed at knifepoint. The chairman also wished the best to Team Youghal on its impending 3,500 mile cycle across America in aid of the Emer Casey Foundation. He said the internationally high-profile event also offered a wonderful showcase opportunity for Youghal. Gratitude was expressed to artists/photographers Eileen and Will McGoldrick who offered to provide any works required to help market the town. The McGoldricks also invited all present to the launch of their next exhibition, on June 16th, featuring the work of former cinema projectionist Michael Roche.
There was also a suggestion that the group adopt a different name to project a more positive image, especially when dealing with statutory agencies. This will be discussed at the next meeting.
It was remarked from the floor that the signage affecting the town entry from the N25 Cork side is not large enough, resulting in drivers taking the bypass route instead, before then turning off towards Cork Hill and eventually turning left (due to no signage at all) at the bottom of the hill and missing the town centre completely. On the Waterford side, signs remain denoting businesses and facilities that no longer exist.
Also from the floor, Ms Suzanne Cotter raised the issue of dog litter. She said signage and an increased awareness campaign had improved matters considerably in her own estate and recommended a similar campaign for the town generally. It was also decided to investigate whether ‘pooper scooper’s, which are provided free at the town hall, could be issued in more general outlets.
The next meeting is on Tuesday June 7th in the Red Store (upstairs) at 7 pm.
IMPRESSIVE MEETING AS YOUGHAL CONCERNED CITIZENS GROUPS CONTINUES TO BED IN.
By Christy Parker
THE YOUGHAL CONCERNED CITIZENS GROUP continued to consolidate its position as an active entity and a forum for ‘people power’ at its most recent meeting on Tuesday May 10th. A press release issued by YCC secretary Adrian Hyde suggests that strong commitment and enterprise presided on the night and, more relevantly perhaps, during the period following the previous meeting, during which initiatives and projects had been actively pursed.
Mr Hyde reports that several new faces were in attendance in the Red Store as Mr Michael Butler opened proceedings with an update on the events to support Youghal’s application to participate in TG4’s upcoming 10-part series, The G-Team. The series will see non-Gaeltacht communities compete for a prize pot of €40,000 towards promoting their local area. Cameras will descend on each participating town to record a one-day festival in which every effort is employed to use the Irish language.
In promoting Youghal’s application, Mr. Butler floated such ideas as translating shop windows into Irish, a Speaker’s Corner, incentive schemes for consumers to use Irish while shopping, alongside various other Irish language based events. He said assessors from TG4 would shortly visit Youghal to consider the application. The speaker added that the exposure gained from participating would be very worthwhile and said several local organisations have responded positively to the idea.
Mr. Norman McDonald reported that, following a meeting with marketing consultant Tim Magee, several marketing initiatives were being pursued. These included asking owners of vacant buildings for permission to paint curtains and windows on the boarded windows, hence reducing the negative impact of such structures. He said this had been done successfully elsewhere (e.g. the old courthouse.)
Mr. McDonald proceeded that Mr. Cliff Windsor had volunteered to meet and greet visitors from tour buses stopping in Youghal. With up to 35 buses a week passing through the town, he observed, this was a considerable undertaking. Mr. Windsor would conduct his project in fancy dress and distribute flyers and brochures encouraging tourists to make longer return visits than their present schedule might allow. It was hoped that this effort would impact from next year as positive reports of Youghal were returned to the tour companies. It was also agreed to target and market Youghal to tour companies come September for their 2012 schedules. .
Fish pie, Moby Dick and a picnic
Mr McDonald also revealed that a fish pie competition would take place in the coming weeks, whereby Youghal restaurants would compete for the credit and honour of creating the original, de-facto ‘Youghal Bay Fish Pie’. The winning recipe could be used by all Youghal eateries in Youghal –and beyond if so desired. The use of ‘Youghal’ in the title was a marketing notch in itself, it was noted. Asked whether the contest could be open to members of the public also, Mr McDonald replied that it was more important to move the idea forward now.to avoid missing another tourist season trying to organise something bigger.
A mackerel festival to coincide with the mackerel season was tentatively being planned, with updates in due course. A fish of a bigger fry was the centre-point for a suggestion to strengthen the town’s links with Moby Dick. The proposal was to promote association with the book’s author Hermen Melville, perhaps through erecting a statue or basing a festival on his name. It was felt that the concept would resonate well with Americans, given that their country rates the author very highly.
There was much approval for an idea by Paula Tutty of Tweenies to conduct a Teddy Bear picnic for parents and children in the Green Park. Ms Tuttle volunteered to advance the idea and was assured of assistance from the group. The meeting also heard that the prospect of Youghal Lace being displayed in local shops is progressing well. Further details are expected shortly.
Mr. Eoin Budds of the sub-committee seaside working group (also comprising Mr. Ted Murphy) made a detailed presentation, complete with pictures and slides, on the negatives and positives of the beach and seaside areas. The presentation’s key points included a shortfall of facilities at the beaches, the lack of connect between the town and beach and the need for much better marketing to visitors.
Three ideas proposed can be categorised as follows: i) prepare a proposal for submission to Youghal Town Council detailing desirable facilities, such as showers, adequate toilets, information points and locations/stalls for traders (which, it was felt, would also bring in revenue to the council.); ii) conduct an advertising campaign to promote Youghal beach and iii) organise a trade-show to promote Youghal to invited investors and business representatives, in which Youghal’s history and heritage past would be highlighted, alongside a presentation on opportunities available in the town, (e.g. a cinema, beach opportunities, etc.) The overriding agenda was to stress that Youghal, its council and people, were eager and open for new businesses and investment. The report was well received and it was agreed to consider its recommendations prior to further consideration at the next meeting
Railway station, sandbags and quayside rubbish
Adrian Hyde provided an update on a proposed clean-up of the railway station. He said Iarnrod Eireann had approved in principal a proposal for volunteers to undertake cleaning the site. Insurance issues remained to be resolved, he explained, adding that Youghal Town Council was also working on the issue and it would be raised at an upcoming meeting between YCC and the town clerk.
Gratitude was expressed to Youghal Town Council for the removal of unsightly sandbags from the street, as had been discussed at the previous meeting. It was recalled that YCC volunteers had undertaken an extensive clean-up of the Buttimer’s Quay area but much remained to be done. The meeting was told that trailer loads of rubbish could be removed from the quayside but the cost exceeded he fledgling group’s resources. It was agreed to seek the town council’s assistance and again the issue would be raised at the forthcoming meeting.
Any Other Business
The derelict appearance of the Green Park bandstand and the strand toilets was raised. Mr Hyde said paint was available for voluntary activities like this but the permission of the council was required before the group could tackle public buildings. Garda Peter Queally raised the issue of transition year students carrying out such tasks. He was meeting with over a hundred students the following day with a view to them undertaking voluntary activities.It was suggested that flower planting in Green Park might occupy the students and cleaning signs around the town and helping with the clean-up of the harbour was also mooted.
Finally, it was recommended that a road-side sign be erected on the Dungarvan-side approach to Youghal to inform motorists -such as those travelling from the Rosslare Ferry- that Youghal was the last beach and coastal resort until West Cork. The feeling was that, in the course of a long journey, tourists might be inclined to stop over in Youghal if they realised it was the last beach and resort for another hundred miles.
Better Future In Sights Amidst Highly Positive Meeting Of Youghal Concerned Citizens
A POSITIVE and progressive mood prevailed at the fourth meeting of the newly-titled Concerned Citizens of Youghal on Tuesday April 5th. Over 30 people attended the gathering in the Red Store, which saw local business man Adrian Hyde elected secretary. The group also formally adapted a name after weeks of indecision. By Christy Parker | Pic: www.youghalonline.com
In a gathering that lasted almost two hours, there was a feeling that determination and destiny were, if not dovetailing, at least sharing the same air space. Many ideas and sentiments were expressed as sense of identity and purpose began, at last, to evolve. It would be impossible to record the issues addressed in great detail but a condensed summary would run as follows:
Initiatives proposed from the floor included:
Owners of derelict buildings be pursued with ultimate zest by the local authority to maintain better their properties; that an effort to initiate shellfish and other such enterprises on the river; negotiations be undertaken with those overseeing Merrick’s with a view to utilising the premises on a temporary basis for the retail of upmarket crafts, with stall holders/craft makers to bear responsibility for general overheads; tour bus drivers be imposed upon to linger longer in town, possibly through participation of transition year students or others proffering maps of the town to alighting visitors (or else just bribe the drivers!); those living in new estates and such outer reaches be encouraged to shop and socialise locally to a greater extent and perhaps craft training for unemployed be initiated to create markets; a survey to be conducted through Pobalscoil students and the internet’s social media on motorist’s views of parking and traffic –a sample questionnaire was circulated; the derelict Spinning Wheel site to be levelled for parking spaces, with a long-term view towards multi-storey development; a summer festival or sports tournament be organised in conjunction with broad-based community support and national and international advertising, similar to such event in other towns; an offer from Youghal –born graphic designer Claire O’Regan to assist voluntarily with any marketing initiatives was relayed to the gathering and warmly received.
A recent article in the Irish Times, entitled How to Fix a Broken Town was fresh in the minds of most. While Chairman Jimmy Flanagan welcomed it in the sense that it might help to provoke a positive reaction, the overall impression was that in designating Youghal as economically ‘depressed’ and ‘depressing’ the feature had amounted to portraying a negativity that would not be easily counteracted. Both views were probably correct.
The meeting was attended by Mr. Tim Magee, the Dublin-born, local-based marketing manager of international high repute. Mr Magee made an indelible impression on the gathering, not least when arguing that Youghal’s reliance on industry was tantamount to hindering sustainable development. Mr Magee said he “would hate to see a factory with 200 jobs coming to Youghal.” Context is everything in this regard. His point was that tourism and heritage were far more solid grounds on which to build prosperity and he proposed his views from a background of extensive experience in promoting tourism internationally on behalf of organisations, towns and even countries. “Industry is temporary,” he intoned, “tourism is permanent.” He said to forget industry. “The country can’t compete with eastern Europe and Asia. It’s hardly going to prioritise Youghal.”
The speaker advocated a fast and strong riposte to the Irish Times article which, he said, was a semi-rehash of a similar stance expressed by the Irish Independent a year previous. Wisely, he was not interested in the story, but in the response that would, or could, follow it. Basing responses to criticism on a dearth of industry was a waste of time he alluded, as against focusing totally on the positives of natural and designed infrastructure, which were sold and exploitable assets.
Mr Magee said Youghal had more natural infrastructure and beauty to offer visitors than most towns in Ireland. It was just either not being mismanaged or not managed at all. He advocated parking charges effectively “penalising people for visiting or working here.” He suggested that “six people and a roll of duct tape” would garner positive publicity were the parking meters to be rendered unusable “for the right reasons.” For a moment, there was almost an air of revolution wafting through the room!
The marketing manager believed the beach needed more commercial activity, with a mere two casual trading bays a betrayal of potential. “People will go to worse beaches if they have more facilities. They want life on a beach,” he argued.
Most of all, he urged that Youghal acquire a ‘hook’ or ‘niche,’ as a prime marketing tool. He supported the promotion of a fish industry. If Youghal could justifiably boast being Ireland’s prime fish food town, people would flock here. As a former food critic, he felt all bare one or two of Youghal’s eateries were pursuing the wrong track. A strong seafood identity, properly managed perhaps by an overseeing board, was a menu for success.
Drawing parallels between Youghal and Killiney, Mr Magee again stressed that industry wasn’t fundamentally necessary. “You need to market Youghal as a place to come for mid-term breaks and holidays. Resolve issues such as drunken teens on Friday nights and people will see the town as a family friendly place and in time be happy to move her to live,” he proceeded. “They won’t mind driving to work because they will be coming back to here. But you must first position yourself for tourism” much-travelling Dubliner promised to assist as “with direction” as best he could before departing for another appointment. Applause followed.
The remainder of the meeting included input form Comhaltas Eochaill chairman Michael De Buitleir. He stressed strongly the need for “proper structure” and “legal status” as ground requirements for the burgeoning movement. “We are evolving now,” he said. “Then will the storm as agendas and disagreement emerge as they do within all groups and relationships. Then will come the norm.” Despite some expressed reservations that rules and regulations might strangle enthusiasm, Mr De Buitleir reiterated that proper structure was vital to carry weight, influence and respect. Meantime good work had ensued on a good night. Now where’s that duct tape…
Following an interim sub-committee meeting, the Youghal Concerned Citizens group will hold itsnext public meeting in the Red Store on Tuesday April 19th at 7 pm. The agenda will include: election of treasurer and formation of the following:
Working group to examine what we can do for Youghal
Working group to examine issues relating to development of the seaside areas of Youghal, such as beaches, marina, transport links, between town and beach and to formulate proposals to enhance and promote same.
Working group to formulate proposals for a central hook or message upon which the town can market and sell itself.
Committee to establish if there is a requirement and willingness for al groups and organisations in Youghal to meet and work together, co-ordinate activities, promote each other and establish a regular network and central message for Youghal.
The group is keen for further activists to come forward. It asks: Are you experienced in marketing? Can you type a report? Can you do some research, make some phone calls? Do you have your own ideas you wish to put forward? Volunteer of every ability and discipline wil be most welcome and invaluable.
Inquiries: Chairman Jim Flanagan (024) 92962; 086-8128237.
Secretary: Adrian Hyde (024)91355; 087-9878171
Youghal Concerned Citizens
Press Release, 07/04/11.
After a successful and enthusiastic public meeting of citizens, traders and organisations, Youghal Concerned Citizens will hold its next meeting at 7pm on 19th April at the Red Store, Youghal. On the agenda for the meeting are:
Election of a Treasurer Formation of the following: Working group to examine issues relating to development of the seaside areas of Youghal, such as the beaches, marina, transport links between town and beach and to formulate proposals to enhance and promote same. Working group to formulate proposals for a central hook or message upon which the town can market and sell itself Committee to establish if there is a requirement and willingness for all groups and organisations in Youghal to meet and work together, co-ordinate activities, promote each other and establish a regular network and central message for Youghal. This is an ambitious agenda and more than ever we require volunteers who believe in Youghal and wish to make a difference. The hard work starts here!
Are you experienced in marketing? Can you type a report? Can you do some research, make some phone calls? Do you have your own idea you wish to put forward? Volunteers of every ability and discipline will be most invaluable. We can make Youghal better. Only with your help.
For queries, feel free to contact:
Chairman: Jim Flanagan 024 – 92962 / 086 8128237
Secretary: Adrian Hyde 024 – 91355 / 087 987817