Joe Hayes, Chairperson and Rita Fenton, Vice Chairperson of Tipperary Town Chamber of Commerce, in the Chamber Offices in Tipp Town
Tipperary Town is very much open for business this Christmas. That was the clear message from officials of the town’s Chamber of Commerce that I met when I popped into their offices in James Street, Tipperary.
Joe Hayes, Chair, and Rita Fenton, Vice-Chair, were busy discussing their plans for Christmas but were happy to take some time out to update me on what we can expect in Tipperary Town in the lead up to Christmas.
The Chamber members had had a very busy couple of weeks as a lot of effort had gone into preparing submissions on the proposed N24-N74 Tipperary Town Road Improvement Scheme.
Joe Hayes said that they were opposed to the plans as presented as they were “not suitable for the future development of the town”.
He went on to say that their view for the future development of the town is of a “tourist town that will provide an enhanced shopping experience for locals and visitors alike and will cater for the needs of people in relation to on street and accessible parking and in providing all facilities required in a manner that is user friendly for the shopper and for the tourist. In our opinion this proposal does not meet those requirements and for that reason we are opposed to it”.
I didn’t want to dwell any further on this as submissions have now closed and we must await the result of deliberations by Tipperary County Council officials, so I posed the question that many people want to know at the moment - will there be lights in Tipperary this Christmas?
My question was greeted with an enthusiastic yes and hoping for switch on within a week. “We will have new lights this year and they will run from Bank Place to Church Street and will give a great lift to people as we exit lock down. The delay in getting things ready was due to problems we encountered with wiring along the Main Street and much of the wiring had to be re-certified,” said Joe Hayes who runs the Cleanline Farm Service in O’Brien Street.
They are planning an official switch-on ceremony but are awaiting news on restrictions before deciding on the format.
Rita Fenton of Rita’s Flowers (Church Street, Tipperary) told me that there was great goodwill from all the businesses in the town in supporting the Christmas lights initiative.
“Along with an anonymous sponsor the businesses are all contributing what they can afford and we also have placed buckets in the shops and are asking people to give whatever they can when they visit the shops. We recognise that these are very difficult times but we have been ‘blown away’ by the level of goodwill and support that we have received so far. The new committee and the new members that have come on board want to unite the town and want to work with all groups to make this the best town in the country.”
Rita went on to say that this is the beginning of a process to enhance the image of the town and that a new brand has just been launched that will create an image for Tipperary that will be recognised throughout Ireland and abroad. “We want to revitalise the tradition of celebrating our shopfronts and showcasing them as stop points for people in the town. In that regard we have a trophy sponsored by MJ Ryan, Garage, Link Road, Tipperary and a €100 cheque for the Best Christmas Shop Window. We also have an initiative to follow the Elf in town this Christmas. Children are being invited to find the Elf in a shop window; complete the anagram and win a prize. This is happening on Saturday, December 5 and on Saturday, December 12, from 11am-3pm both days!”
It is obvious from talking to Joe and Rita that there is great support and indeed great enthusiasm for their plans. Joe was anxious to recognise the work of Rita and Sinead O’Dwyer (Sinead’s Barbers, Main Street, Tipperary) for their phenomenal input and for walking the streets and meeting everyone, which generated great goodwill from all the business community. Credit was also given to Dave McMahon (Dave Mc’s Menswear, Main Street, Tipperary) for his role as Brand Manager and for the team that worked with him in developing a recognised brand for the town.
Joe went on to say, “We want to make the Chamber accessible to everyone and we want the Chamber Office to be a place where people can drop in and discuss issues or assist with ideas. We want people to come forward with ideas and we know that young people have great ideas for our town so please don’t be reluctant to bring your ideas forward to us. We will warmly welcome any ideas you have and we will welcome new members also.
“People who have retired from business also have a lot to offer and can assist us with their experience. We are working closely with Tipperary County Council on all our plans.
“Some people might have the idea that we are at loggerheads with the council but that is not correct. We have established a great working relationship with the council and have found great support to be forthcoming from them and in particular from Anthony Coleman and Pat Slattery, who have been very receptive and willing to listen. Our goal is to unite the town with everyone working together for the benefit of the community.
“Tipperary Town is open and very welcoming for you this Christmas so please shop local.”
The new Chamber officers wanted to pay tribute to those who had in the past played their part in promoting business and in promoting the town in general and they paid tribute to Shane Kelly (Pharmacy) who was the previous Chair.