7 July 2021
By Tom Collins
West Cork is associated with tourism and scenery, and a key common factor to successful towns is water: either being on the Coast, or close to it. Indeed, the “Wild Atlantic Way” driving route is based on this concept. Dunmanway is not quite on the coast but is very much a crossroads and important town.
Now, Local artist and businesswoman, Fiona Hayes has launched the Dunmanway Civic Pride Project called ‘THIS IS A GREAT TOWN’ to spread joy and positivity about her home town of Dunmanway in West Cork. As we slowly emerge from covid restrictions, the timing for this project couldn’t be better as people will welcome a reason to smile and take pride in their surroundings.
Ms Hayes is a 4th year Batchelor of Visual Art student at BAVA Sherkin, an out-reach level 8 degree course managed and delivered by TU Dublin, Sherkin Island Development (SIDS) and in collaboration with West Cork Arts Centre. With the support of programme chair, Dr. Glen Loughran, lecturer and artist Jesse Jones and facilitator local artist Majella O’ Neill Collins, Fiona set about creating a project with a focus on the meaning of place and its people, through socially engaged practice.
Fiona collaborated with local groups Dunmanway Community Council and Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce to create the “Dunmanway Civic Pride Project”, which highlights what is great about Dunmanway through a number of positive statements. In phase one, an initial call out for submissions was shared among the local community to answer one question, ‘Why is Dunmanway a great town?’ and the response was phenomenal, “I’m delighted with the enthusiasm that this project has generated. My hope is to encourage deep and meaningful conversation around all the fantastic things that Dunmanway has to offer.” Fiona said. Phase two, will dig deeper, in search of more defined and specific answers, inviting both young and old to share their thoughts on ‘What is great about Dunmanway’.
Signs sponsored by the local business community are placed throughout the West Cork town displaying the initial set of replies from people in the community on why they feel Dunmanway is a great town. Replies include ‘Heart of West Cork’, ‘Amazing Community Spirit’, ‘Awarding winning schools’, ‘Great place to raise a family’ and ‘Inclusive Society’ to name just a few. Speaking at the launch of the project, Fiona said “The last 50 years has seen a dramatic change in many market towns across Ireland. It is easy to forget or overlook what is truly GREAT about these towns. This project aims to highlight the smaller more important values that are often taken for granted when evaluating a space and celebrate the everyday amenities and offerings that make our town great.”
Centrally located in the heart of West Cork, Dunmanway offers so much to see and do for locals, visitors and those just passing through. Originally a market town, steeped in history and widely known for the Ballabuidhe Races and it’s 400 year old Horse Fair. Dunmanway offers many outdoor and indoor leisure activities, including a state of the art swimming pool, newly developed all-inclusive children’s playground, as well as scenic walks, wonderful public gardens and heritage attractions.
Dunmanway is proud of its many famous sons, including GAA legend, Sam Maguire, after whom the All-Ireland senior football cup is named. Dunmanway is also the ancestorial home of American astronaut Michael Collins, who was part of the Apollo 11 crew which first landed on the moon.