BY JACKIE KEOGH
A PROPOSAL to establish West Cork’s first ‘community shop’ in the village of Courtmacsherry is being considered.
Up until July, when ‘Rita’s’ village shop closed, there had been a retail store of one kind or another in Courtmacsherry for the last 200 years.
But now, as Sinn Fein Cllr Paul Hayes has said: ‘The old adage is true. You don’t know what you’ve had until it’s gone.’
Facing such a loss, several members of the community were prompted to act and, at a recent public meeting, 40 members of the public come up with the novel idea of opening a community shop.
A sub-committee was established to write a questionnaire that has since been distributed throughout the village and homes within a one mile radius of the village.
The questionnaire asks – would you support a local community shop in the village? What range of goods would you like the shop to stock? How much do you think you would spend each week in the local shop? When would you most likely use the shop? And would you volunteer any time to assist with the running of the community shop?
Paul Hayes explained: ‘The concept of a community shop is that it would be set up, managed and staffed by the community.’
He said locals – of which he is one – believe there is a need for a shop where residents and visitors alike could pop in for milk, bread, sweets, or The Southern Star.
He said they are also mindful of the fact that people staying in the caravan parks during the summer months like popping into the local shop to buy fresh eggs, rashers and sausages for their morning fry-up.
The results of the survey will be returned, and analysed, by the first week of October. And if the response is favourable, Paul Hayes promised: ‘We will be looking to take the project to the next stage and identify a suitable location for the proposed community shop. We will also be seeking a meeting with the West Cork Development Partnership, a development organisation that has already expressed an interest in the concept.
‘It is not surprising that a development organisation would support such an initiative like this,’ said Paul Hayes, ‘because small shops are closing down at such an alarming rate.’
At present, he said, the people of Courtmacsherry have to travel by car to Timoleague or the Barryroe Co-op shop to buy the basics. ‘But there are some people, including the elderly, do not have their own transport and the loss of the local shop is a great inconvenience,’ he pointed out.
Paul Hayes told The Southern Star that the local community was inspired by The Plunkett Foundation, an organisation that has established more than 300 community shops in the UK, as well as one community shop – Ireland’s first – in Tipperary.
Anyone who would like to lend their support to the initiative can contact the group by emailing: [email protected] And to find out more about The Plunkett Foundation go to: www.plunkett.co.uk.