Bantry street's transformation is spreading the love far and wide

April 14th, 2017 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

The team behind the creative transformation of Marino Street in Bantry

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A little bit of initiative, creativity, and a lot of love, has resulted in a much-needed facelift for Marino Street, writes Jackie Keogh

A little bit of initiative, creativity, and a lot of love, has resulted in a much-needed facelift for Marino Street, writes Jackie Keogh

ONE year ago this month Bantry Chamber of Commerce, together with a raft of community groups, transformed a rather run-down street in the town centre.

Neill Clarke, president of Bantry Chamber, said the somewhat down-and-dirty state of Marino Street was something of an eyesore as 7,000-plus cars passed westward en route to Glengarriff, Castletownbere and Killarney, or to Schull and Skibbereen in the opposite direction. 

‘A lot of the buildings had fallen into disrepair,’ said Neill, ‘and Bantry Chamber decided to see if it would be possible to refurbish it.

‘We did some research, sourced some paints, talked with owners, developers and residents, and set about securing permission to do the work.

‘After that it was just a matter of organising the volunteers and contractors to help carry out the work, and sticking to a schedule. But I’m happy to say that the response all round was excellent and the work was done to a very high standard.

‘We were fortunate that a collective of creatives – know as Pulse Bantry – came on board to make use of the doors and windows that need to be boarded up because they used them for their artwork.

‘This initiative was branded with the ‘Love Your Streets’ logo and each of the boards tells a story about the building and its historic use.’

Bernie O’Sullivan of Pulse Bantry said: ‘It was an opportunity for us to show our love for Bantry. 

‘We were happy to help transform Marino Street from something that looked quite dull into a bright and colourful streetscape – one that reflects the vibrant colours of the Wild Atlantic Way.

‘We also wanted to highlight the quality of life we have in our town – a town that is rich in activities, literature, musical talents, market life, trades and crafts people, as well as having a rich maritime and agricultural tradition. 

‘At the core of our ‘Love Your Streets’ initiative is the fact that we are very proud of our town and excited about the new developments that are on the way,’ said Bernie.

Neill Clarke said: ‘We wanted to mark the one-year anniversary of the completion of the project with a word of thanks to everyone who got involved in this project, including all the members of Bantry Chamber, Pulse Bantry, Nunan Cleaning, Murnane & O’Shea, Finbarr Holland painting contractor, Mo Doyle designer, Billy Coakley Paint Supplies, Ray Cremin painting co-ordinator, John O’Leary, Bantry Tidy Towns, Stephen and Gillian O’Donovan, and all of the volunteers, owners, developers and residents. 

Because it is such a busy and narrow street, Neill confirmed that a lot of the work had to be done between 6am and 9am, or between 6pm and 9pm.

‘A total of 11 housing units were painted and restored, and altogether it was a fine example of what can be achieved by local co-operatives. 

‘Despite the tough conditions and the hard work involved, everyone entered into the spirit of the project. It was all about getting the job done and having a few laughs along the way.’

As president of Bantry Chamber, Neill said he could not let this opportunity pass without making the point that the time had surely come for Cork County Council to make a determined effort to provide a relief road for Bantry.

‘We understand a relief road is being considered for Castletownbere and if that’s completed, Bantry will be the only town without a relief road to take the heavy traffic out of the town centre.’

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