Urlingford Town Team members JJ Kavanagh and Fiona Joyce outside the future site of the remote working hub
Gathered in the summer sun, under the shade of trees and enjoying a fresh coffee, members of the Urlingford Town Team are enthusiastically planning their upcoming golf classic.
Little over a year ago the scene couldn’t have happened. Not only had the Town Team still to be formed, but there was no café in Urlingford.
However, since May 2021 things have started to change in the North Kilkenny town, and it’s that wave of enthusiasm embodied by the Town Team that will see everyone in their community benefit.
Scroll down to read on, then click 'NEXT' to see more photographs and read about the golf classic and the other ambitious projects of the Town Team.
Like the mythical rising tide that lifts all boats, the strategic plan that is currently being drawn up for Urlingford by consultants, with the input of the whole community, including the Town Team, will bring advantages for everyone.
“ASPIRE is the word that encapsulates our vision for Urlingford - attractive, safe, prosperous, inclusive, respectful and empowering,” says Fiona Joyce, chairperson of the Town Team.
Practically, what this means is a wide scope of individual projects with the aim of creating an overall improvement in the living, working and recreational environment in the town.
One of the keystone projects for the Urlingford Town Team is to get a remote working hub up and running. With the help of Kilkenny County Council the former Bank of Ireland building has been bought for lease by the Town Team and this town-centre site will be converted into a remote working hub.
Alongside this, in the coming weeks, will be the Town Team’s major fundraising event, a golf classic (see poster below). An essential step in the project.
Urlingford is the most recent of several towns across Kilkenny to form a Town Team, with the support and encouragement of Kilkenny County Council.
The council carried out a ‘health check’ on the town early last year, with a view to drawing up a town plan. With the encouragement and support of the council, members of the community volunteered to form the Town Team, then, building on the Turley findings, assessed what their own vision was for the town.
While Turley Consultants are now working on their draft Town Centre First Plan, and will bring the draft to public consultation in Urlingford in the coming months, the energetic Town Team is already up and running, and working hard. The final plan will aim to make the town a commercial and recreational hub for the wider community.
The Town Team has a vision of a prosperous and vibrant Urlingford. Combined with the feedback from the ‘health check,’ a project to open a remote working hub on the town’s Main Street is central to that.
But the overall project is about more than just working, it’s to give new life to the town.
“People can have a career and still be there to be part of the community, like being on the Town Team or training the under seven hurling team. For a community to work it needs people,” Fiona said.
A remote working hub will serve the local community but will also bring in people from outside the town.
Dympna Hayes is heading up the remote hub sub-committee. Urlingford, like many other small country towns, is anxious to be part of the Government’s efforts to regenerate and revitalise rural Ireland.
The County Council ‘health check’ was a way of asking the community what they thought would be useful to get the town back on its feet, she said.
One of the main things that came up was the strong need to generate more footfall and bring a bit of life back on to Main Street.
Repurposing the empty bank building as a remote working hub was probably an obvious enough choice, Dympna said, as everyone recognises there is a new, hybrid approach to work and the soon to be vacant bank building was the perfect site.
“Even though everybody was working remotely during lockdown, the whole idea of the hybrid work arrangement is very new and there’s a lot of learning involved,” Dympna said.
One of the advantages of the former bank building is that it has lots of rooms that can be used for open plan desks and for conference or group work spaces.
“Ideally, we’d like to be in a position to open yesterday! The quicker we can do this the better,” she said. “We are living at a time of unprecedented change in how people work.
Twenty years ago an attempt was made to decentralise workers from Dublin to locations around the country. Remote working hubs is a way of decentralising on a much more voluntary basis, Dympna said.
Describing setting up the hub as a ‘challenging project,’ Dympna said the Town Team feel it’s one that will benefit everybody in the community, and to make it work the community will have to use it.
Halfway between Dublin and Cork, it’s a strategic location that Urlingford is planning to harness.
Fiona said: “On a county level we are on the periphery, but nationally we are quite central. It’s a strategic location between a lot of urban centres. Historically Urlingford was developed because of its strategic location. That’s something we need to build on.”
A remote working hub is a facility where employees can work, outside their traditional office environment. Instead of commuting to an office each day to work from a designated desk, remote employees can work close to home, within their local communities.
The Team hopes the hub will appeal to many potential users, from single-desk workers to companies who will use conference space.
Any prospective clients, individuals or companies, who are interested in using our hub in the near future, should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be kept posted on all developments.
Fiona said the hub will offer entrepreneurs and startups a place to begin their journey, or a company that started at the kitchen table might need more space to hire an employee until they are ready to open their own premises.
“The more people we have working on Main Street, coming into the town during the day, the more vibrant and alive Main Street becomes,” Fiona predicted.
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