There is a strong possibility that a five-year ‘plan-for-action’ for Ballyleague and Lanesboro will be started soon to further realise the potential of the Shannonside villages.
A few months ago, Ciaran Mullooly, well-known community activist in the area, contacted a Mr. Louis Brennan, who lives in Portlaoise, to ask if he would undertake the project.
Mr. Brennan is a retired senior civil servant – he was a Director of Services and temporary County Manager with Laois County Council – and had just completed a similar ‘plan-for-action’ on Moate.
Mr. Mullooly believes that Mr. Brennan would be the ideal man to draw up such a plan for Ballyleague and Lanesboro that would be aimed at “getting industry back into the villages, retaining and getting new jobs and economic regeneration”.
Mr. Brennan is currently in consultation with community leaders in the two villages, exploring the possibility of progressing with the project.
He said that his first impressions of the area were “hugely positive”.
“The approach to the villages, the Tidy Towns work, the verges, the cleanliness, the greenery and the colour was phenomenal,” Mr. Brennan said.
“I was hugely impressed by the infrastructure on the Shannon and hugely impressed by their capacity to attract water-based competition into the area.”
He also noted that a high level of cross-bridge support existed in the area.
“They do fundraisers for community groups on both sides, whether they are sporting or whatever,” Mr. Brennan said. “They are very strong.”
He also believes that there is massive tourism potential in the area, and the fact that the River Shannon divides the two villages is a positive aspect.
“I consider it an advantage being in two counties, two provinces, two dioceses and two parishes,” Mr. Brennan said.
“There are opportunities to merge tourism activities to attract people in from both sides of the entire country.
“They also have opportunities there because of the water to do projects based around water, such as has happened on other parts of the Shannon.”
He also believes that the two villages are the ‘kings of Lough Ree’ because of their location on the cusp of the lake.
“The other thing that I found was there was huge support from the agencies – Roscommon County Council, Roscommon Leader, Longford County Council and Longford Leader,” Mr. Brennan said. “That was very encouraging.
In the event that Mr. Brennan decides to proceed with the plan for the two villages, it will very much involve the community.
“I call it a ‘plan-for-action’ rather than an ‘action plan’ – there is a subtle difference,” he said. “I do a plan where people can get involved and do things rather than sitting around and waiting for other people to do things.”