A recent upswing of business in Cashel is bringing renewed confidence to the local economy, but many units may remain shuttered and derelict for years to come, according to the President of Cashel’s Chamber of Commerce.
Mr Aidan Hynes has rejuvenated the organisation, which can now boast over 90 members from a low of about 40 members.
While there has been much recent good news in the retail sector, along with the re-opening of Mikey Ryan’s pub on Main Street, the new Bowes restaurant across the road, and Starbucks in the Cashel Shopping Centre, there are still concerns regarding empty units in Dominic Street, and Lower Gate, Mr Hynes told the Tipperary Star. “There’s a lot of empty units after opening in the last two months. Everybody’s talking about Mikey Ryan’s, and there’s a buzz around town.” There are also reports that two overseas parties are interested in acquiring the former Grants Hotel Kearney’s Castle pub and restaurant.
However, the Dominic’s Court and Lower Gate complexes remain an eyesore, and will find it hard to attract business as they are located away from the main shopping area. “There is no passing trade. It never worked in the good times, and I can’t see it working now,” said Mr Hynes.
Meanwhile, high rents in the Cashel Shopping Centre, with its main anchor tenant Tesco, have deterred some business people. One businessman who managed a dry cleaner’s, and Cafe Terrassa, could not survive due to high rents and lack of footfall.
“If they gave everybody six months free rent just to get off the ground, the Shopping Centre would be full, and there would be far more footfall for Tesco’s and O’Dwyer’s.”
While the economy has seen an upswing in Dublin, it takes time for the effects to be felt in Cashel. But the expansion of Amneal on the Cahir road, now employing some 80 employees, will approach a complement of 185 staff next year. It’s expected their first product will be on the market soon, and it’s hoped that eventually a full strength staff will reach 260 employees.
Next year, the refurbishment of the Cashel Palace, and record numbers to the Rock of Cashel (up to 400,000 visitors this year from 325,000 at the same time last year), all point to a brighter future for the heritage town, which saw tough times after the 2008 crash and abolition of the Town Council.
“When the Palace opens in two years time, it’ll be just phenomenal, because you’ll be able to walk all the way down from the Rock through the Bishop’s Walk to the Main Street,” says Mr Hynes.
One major problem facing the town is accommodation, as many housing estates - built during the boom - have still not been taken in charge by the Council.
Local residents have complained of unfinished fittings, uncut grass, and even electricity blackouts.
Some developers who have gone into NAMA say they don’t have sufficient funds to complete the estates to the standards required for them to be taken in charge by the Council, added Mr Hynes.
Howver, Cashel, more than other towns, is uniquely well placed to capitalise on its strengths, with the Rock of Cashel and easy access to the M8 motorway.
The Chamber has a Facebook page called ‘Cashel Business and Tourism’ and runs the Cashel.ie website. The next meeting of the Chamber is in September.