A worthy ‘windfall’ – of sorts – for Strokestown groups

The new wind farm that is being developed on Sliabh Bán has been widely condemned. Construction of 50 huge wind turbines, a joint initiative by Coillte and Bord na Móna, is at advanced stage. The €90 million project will detract from the visual appearance of the area, it is claimed.

The one sliver of light to emerge from the project, however, is that the two semi-state bodies are spending money on at least part-compensating residents of the area with a community fund. Amounting to €2.1 million – €87,000 a year for 25 years – it will benefit local projects and initiatives.

  Coillte and Bord na Móna were inundated with applications, receiving more than 60, and began allocating the grants to more than 30 of them over the past few weeks.

  Perhaps the biggest recipient has been Strokestown Community Development Association, which was assigned €27,000 over a four-year period to build a playground.

  This will represent almost half of the €60,000 that it is estimated the project, which was launched last year, will cost.

  Local Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy, the chairman of the association, said that they were very pleased with the news.

  “It is going to alleviate some of the fundraising we would have had to undertake,” the newly elected deputy said. “We are hoping to get signed off on the grant and get the project up and running before the end of spring.”

  A site has been purchased at the Boreen Road.

  Many other groups have also received grant allocations, including the Tidy Towns groups in Strokestown and Cloontusket, Ballyfeeney National School, St Faithleach’s GAA Club, Ballyleague Village Renewal & Tidy Towns Committee, Sliabh Bán Athletics Club, Cloontuskert National School and Ballagh/Curraghroe Defibrillator Committee.

  The Irish Heritage Trust, which runs Strokestown Park House, has been allocated €2,900 towards building a walkway to link the house to Sliabh Bán.

  Last year, the trust took over the day-to-day running of the facility, which includes the Irish National Famine Museum, in an attempt to put it on a sounder financial footing. Despite attracting around 50,000 visitors a year, the tourist attraction was losing around €200,000 a year.

  Only for the devotion of Jim Callery, whose company Westward Holdings owns it, the Georgian mansion would be in ruins at this stage. Thanks to his financial input, though, it is a cherished amenity for those in the locality.