03 Dec 2021

COLUMN: What is so great about Manorhamilton?

Manorhamilton seeking a €2 million New Year facelift

In 2013, Sorcha Fox performed “Who Is Manorhamilton?”, based partly on people’s answer to the titular question during her year as Theatre Artist in Residence at The Glens Arts Centre. One of the contributions she included was “someone threw a can of beer out of the car window and someone else decided to build a town around it.”

Well, there's no pleasing some people. The following year Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas published ‘Energising Ireland's Rural Economy’, a precursor to the fist Manor Summit and the town’s designation as an economic development zone.
The vision developed at the summit was “a dynamic place that is comfortable, unspoilt and at ease, a place that local people don’t want or need to leave and a place that others want to come to.” A more succinct vision might simply be “Manorhamilton is the most amazing rural town in Ireland.” What's so amazing about it?

The Heritage Town
The entire span of Irish geological, social, political, cultural, and economic history is visible in Manorhamilton: our Neolithic prehistory and Celtic order, the plantation, Act of Union, the Famine, the foundation of the Irish state, the Troubles, and the globalised Ireland have all left visible traces. We are making this heritage a focus of scholarship, attractive to visitors, part of local experience, and preserve and revitalise it for future generations.

Creative Town
Over the past 30 years, visual and performing artists have called Manorhamilton their home – drawn by the Leitrim Sculpture Centre and the Glens Arts Centre, both of which were inspired by and realized by local people. The combination of internationally renowned visual and performing arts in a rural setting is unique. We are making this artistic talent a defining feature of Manorhamilton, where artists make a vital contribution to the built environment and the social life of the town and where the creative abilities of all inhabitants is encouraged and recognized.

Tourist Town
The location of Manorhamilton gives it unique advantages for tourists – connecting tourists with a network of amenities stretching from Belfast to the Shannon estuary, from Ireland’s Ancient East to the Hidden Heartlands and the Wild Atlantic Way. We are making Manorhamilton pivotal in the provision of and experience of world class tourist experiences.

Technology Town
Manorhamilton has a strong economic core, with successful factories, primary and secondary education, and a recognized entrepreneurial tradition. The responses of artists is also expressed in our entrepreneurial tradition and interest in innovation. Combining artistry and enterprise, Manorhamilton could be a leader in digitization and prove that a rural location is the best place to start businesses for the new digital era.

Market Town
The presence of farming and agriculture has an unbroken history going back millennia, and the activities of farming families is part of the life blood of the town and its hinterlands. We are perpetuating the practice of agriculture and to support and celebrate its traditions.

Resilient Town
As the climate changes, people will need to adapt their ways of living to these new circumstances, but also to manage the unavoidable disruptions and displacement. We are exploring ways, with urgency and determination, to adapt to these new realities and show leadership in the north west and in national and international arenas.
Now that’s a vision worth raising a glass to.

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