Connacht Tribune 24th September, 1971 p.5
“It is Government policy to encourage local initiative and enterprise, especially where there is a genuine local involvement,” said Mr. Robert Molloy T.D., Minister for Local Government at Kinvara on Friday when he officially opened the new Co-Operative Handcrafts Centre. “It was one of the reasons why the County Development Team system was introduced in the western counties in 1965,” he pointed out. The Handcrafts Centre is situated on the western corner of The Square, Kinvara, the most prominent position in the seaside town and as well as a sales and display area there is accommodation for handcrafts work and instruction. After a modest beginning three years ago the present annual turn-over target is £30,000. This injection of finance into the area is outstanding by any standards. It is the direct result of the dedication and foresight of the Chairman, Mr.Toddie Byrne, and his committee. The Co-Operative is the first big economic boost for the parish and district and augurs well for future undertakings in Kinvara.
“A grant of £4,000, representing two-thirds of the cost of your new premises, was made available from the Special Regional Development Fund operated by the Minister for Finance, on the recommendation of the Team,” Mr. Molly declared. “The record of your Co-Operative to date has been most encouraging. It is progressive and profit-making, and congratulations are due to your Management committee and staff for this happy achievement. It is imperative, however, for further development that the techniques of production, design and quality control be constantly reviewed, and that saleable articles be guaranteed by the Society to the sales outlets. Care must be taken to guard against overproduction of products that may have been profitable in the past and may now be losing market appeal.
“The possibility of achieving a significant income through handcrafts production can be realised only with the assistance of a well thought out marketing strategy, which must reduce to a minimum the overheads and the number of links in the chain between the producer and the eventual customer.
The co-ordination of handcrafts production throughout the West, with a view to maximising the amount of income generated by such activities, has engaged the attention of the Galway County Development Team during the past year. Your Chairman, Mr. Toddie Byrne, was active on a committee representative of the handcrafts industry in Galway and the adjoining counties, which was chaired by Mr. Sharkey, the County Manager and County Development Team Chairman.”
“Largely as a result of the Team’s work,” the Minister said, “the Irish National Productivity Committee will shortly commence a general survey of the industry in the West with a view to formulating proposals to improve and develop it. This survey is being financed by a grant from the Special Regional Development Fund. The new premises we are about to open here this afternoon,” Mr. Molloy continued, “begins a new phase in the development of Kinvara Handcrafts Co Co-Operative. the provision of a showroom, offices and storeroom will greatly assist the society in promoting further the skills in handcrafts and handcrafts in order to supplement the incomes of the many families on small farms in the locality.
“The idea of the co-operative was born just over three years ago, through the initiative of a small group here in Kinvara, who were instrumental in bringing together your local guild of Muintir na Tire, the County Development Team and the Irish Agriculture Organisation Society. It was based on a genuine spirit of co-operation, which is an essential ingredient in the building up of a healthy community. From the beginning, it was clearly evident that there was an enthusiasm in this locality for a community project of this kind and this enthusiasm was more than confirmed by the financial commitments undertaken by the 140 shareholders when the project was launched two years ago last month. Amongst co-operatives generally, this degree of financial involvement by shareholders is not always forthcoming and it is perhaps this wonderful response to a worthwhile local idea that made the enterprise profitable from the start. I would like, therefore, to congratulate the shareholders and the Kinvara Guild of Muintir na Tire who provide the initial finance to launch the society. I wish the enterprise every success in its future operations,” Mr. Molloy concluded.
It was a big occasion in the life of the townsfolk and during the ceremony Francis Fahy’s “Ould Plaid Shawl”, the song which made the town famous, was sung by Miss Roisin Moylan, accompanied by her father Mr. Kieran Moylan, N.T. Rev. C. O’Connor, C.C., Galway Cathedral, formerly curate in Kinvara, emphasised to the crowd the factors which led to the realisation of an idea among a few people. Foresight of a few, dedication, co-operation of the people of the parish and the help from such outsiders as politicians, were the contributing factors. “Today was necessary for the people of the parish,” he said. “It gives them confidence to achieve this goal and it has also given them 100% confidence in the leaders in this parish. Kinvara can now go forward with confidence to the other projects which they have in mind,” he concluded.
Mr. Toddie Byrne, Co. C., Chairman of the Co-Operative Management Committee, welcomed the guests and attendance on this “special day in the history of the town.” He thanked all the people who had contributed to the success of the Co-Operative. “I thank Mr. Robert Molloy and through him the Government,” he said, “for their wonderful contribution to the Co-Operative. We could not have otherwise attained our goal and I want him to bring back to Dublin our thanks and appreciation.”
Mr. Byrne referred to the help and encouragement given by the late Seamus Duke, Mr. John Tobin, I.A.O.S., Mr. John O’Hara, National Bank of Ireland (Gort), Mrs. E. Bugg (Kinvara) and her brother Mr. Al O’Dea (Tuam), Miss V. O’Sullivan (Bord Failte), the two Dail Deputies, Mrs B. Hogan O’Higgins and Mr. Bill Loughnane, Mr. Tony Smith, County Development Team, Mr. Raymond Monahan (Kinvara), the architect; and Messrs Fahy and Morgan (Loughrea), the contractors. He expressed the apologies of inability to attend of Mr. A. Sharkey, County Manager, Mr. John Lynch, Co. Development team, Mr. Dan O’Neill, Ireland West and Mr. Oliver Hynes, C.E.O.
After the opening ceremony the building was blessed by Very Rev. B. Mulkern P.P. A reception for some fifty guests later took place at Winkles’ Hotel.