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Our insurance crisis could rob Inchigeela of its ‘cultural gem’

March 26th, 2020 5:10 PM

By Southern Star Team

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A treasure trove of cultural gems in West Cork is just the latest in a long line of West Cork shops in danger of closure, due to rising insurance costs, writes Adrienne Acton

The Store of Memories in Inchigeela village is run by three volunteers, but its future is in doubt because it is facing a huge hike in the cost of insuring the building.

Home insurance costs have increased by 25% in the last three years and motor insurance costs have risen 42% in the last four years.

GAA clubs and charities have also seen their insurance costs double in recent years.

A total of 75 festivals were cancelled between 2016 and 2018 due to excessive insurance costs and now we are also at risk of losing some local treasures if the issue of insurance isn’t dealt with.

The beautiful Store of Memories in Inchigeela is a sweet building that houses treasures such as a 1920s switchboard from Ballingeary, the shop ledger from 1917, postcards from Timmy Johnny O’Sullivan, (the gentleman who built the shop – sent to his sister while working on the railway in Queenstown Cobh on April 16th 1915), shopping accounts from the nearby RIC barracks, a working vintage till from the 1920s and numerous other treasures.

The three volunteers. Dorothy O’Tuama, Nora O’Riordan and Theresa Cotter are only too happy to tell the tales of days gone by and show off the pieces from the past.

But, the O’Sullivan family, the volunteers, and the community are at risk of losing this hub if the issue of insurance isn’t sorted soon.

Over the last three years Dorothy and her siblings have only been able to get insurance cover from companies in the UK.

Irish companies wouldn’t even entertain offering a quote, saying the building wasn’t up to code due to its construction type and its proximity to the Dirravane stream.

Dorothy O’Tuama, granddaughter of the original shopowner, is at her wits end trying to ensure that the museum stays open.

‘It is also a pop-up shop throughout the season,’ Dorothy says, ‘and we have a pop-up floral shop for Mother’s Day which has been a great success in recent years.

‘We also have the arts and crafts shop here every year, the brainchild of local lady Nessa Ní Laoire, which is loved by everyone. It’s heart-breaking to think we might lose all this.’

At the eleventh hour FBD offered a quote of €530.00 for public liability only.

This would cover the volunteers and visitors alike, but not the building.

The locals have dug deep and the costs will be covered for this year.

All maintenance costs are covered by the O’Sullivan family themselves.

There is another option. The family could sign over the building to the village and the Leader fund may then take the care of the museum under their wing.

But the family isn’t sure if they should give up and sign over their legacy.

Talks are ongoing with Cork County Council’s heritage to try and find a solution.

Thankfully, the 2020 season is sorted for now, but the future of this cultural hub hangs in the balance. And unfortunately, it’s a story that is being replicated all over West Cork – and beyond – as a result of the very serious and ongoing crisis in insurance.

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