A SMALL co-operative at the tip of the Beara peninsula is aiming to combat rural depopulation by opening a new Coastal Education Hub.
Tadhg O’Sullivan, chairman of the Allihies Parish Co-Operative Society, believes the hub has the potential to promote enterprise and create new jobs.
The parish already has a temporary hub on the mezzanine floor of the Allihies Copper Mine Museum, but the co-op is now hoping to a build a 40ft x 20ft centre on the same site.
The existing hub was made possible with the support of Bord Iascaigh Mhara, which provided 80% of the funding required to equip it with computers, printers, and whiteboards.
Tadhg said the co-op appreciates the fact that Cork County Council has provided them with €10,000 towards the cost of establishing a new, dedicated hub.
‘The Council knows the area is becoming depopulated and is supportive of our efforts to simulate the local economy,’ he said.
The community has not been short of good ideas. Tadhg said the Allihies Copper Mine Museum – which celebrates the area’s rich mining history and was officially opened by President Mary McAleese in September 2007 – as well as its on-site café, has proven to be a tourism lifeline for the village.
But, as a development organisation, he said, they are continually looking for ways to improve the range of services they can provide.
‘The hub has a strong maritime focus, but it is also our intention to provide back-up services for a broad range of emerging businesses, and to give people assistance with grant applications, research, and administrative support.’
The hub can be used for classes, crafts and as a walk-in service that will be available to the people of the parish and beyond.
The co-op is also considering bringing in expertise, and organising field trips, which would mainly focus on geology and marine culture.
Tadhg confirmed: ‘We are in the process of finalising the design of the new hub and will shortly be submitting a planning application for a stand-alone, independent unit at the rear of the mine museum.’
‘Our initial application to Cork County Council was for €22,000, so we have less than 50% of what we need and are now going to have to try and source the outstanding €12,000 before we can start work on the new facility,’ he said.