By Dan Dooner
The town of Ballaghaderreen has suffered its fair share of financial blows in the recent past. The global recession of 2008 was followed by the opening of the N5 bypass in 2014, which steered further traffic away from the town. Lockdown has been another major challenge for local businesses, but they are once again preparing to get back on their feet.
Local Sinn Féin Councillor Michael Mulligan says he can see some light at the end of the tunnel.
“I run a small hardware shop here and we had to close for seven weeks. I’m delighted to be back in work again and thankfully it has been busy so far. Getting enough paint in to meet demand has been the biggest challenge with people using this as an opportunity to do some home improvement.
“The biggest blight on the business landscape here in Ballaghaderreen has been the closure of Durkin’s Bar, Restaurant and Guesthouse. It’s a big blow and please God someone will take it over as a hotel very soon because that’s something that’s lacking in this region.
“On the positive side, most of the businesses in Ballaghaderreen are now back open, and there is even one new business after opening up here as well. Things did look bad at the beginning of all this but it was brilliant the way the local people handled the lockdown,” he said.
Cllr. Mulligan said he was hopeful that life could return to some sort of normality over the next few weeks.
“The biggest thing I’ve missed in the last few weeks is the football. I’ve watched the Mayo and Dublin matches a load of times and Mayo still haven’t won! I’ve also seen every John Wayne movie going and he never seems to run out of bullets!”
Local businessman and Chairperson of the Ballaghaderreen Men’s Shed, Pat Towey, says the older generations have found dealing with the uncertainty around Covid-19 and lockdown difficult.
“The men’s shed still isn’t open but we meet every Tuesday evening in the various parishes and we go for walks. There is still a fear among the older generations, a fear of the unknown and of mixing with people. I think people are still a bit nervous. In order to keep members safe we meet outdoors, sanitise our hands and sign a contact tracing sheet,” he said.
In terms of local business, Pat admits there are huge challenges to overcome but is hopeful that once again, businesses in Ballaghaderreen will be able to rise to the challenge.
“I own a shop and petrol station and we were very busy during lockdown and still are, thank God. The town needs every business to reopen to provide as many options and services as possible to attract people to Ballaghaderreen. The Government needs to think about how they can help some of the smaller businesses to reopen – it’s a huge challenge.
“Hopefully everyone gets a chance to reopen in the coming weeks because businesses have to pay rates and you have to support the loyal staff that have stood by you during this period of uncertainty,” he concluded.