First of its kind community shop in Courtmacsherry gets green light

A seaside village has got the go-ahead to launch the first community shop of its kind in West Cork, and local people will shortly be offered an opportunity to purchase shares in the initiative.

Dara Gannon, campaign spokesman for the new community shop venture, with wife Siobhan. Picture: Martin Walsh

An application by residents of the picturesque lifeboat village of Courtmacsherry, to set up a community-run shop next summer, was approved by the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society.

It is envisaged the new retail amenity, expected to open its doors at the beginning of June, will replace the village’s last remaining store which closed last summer.

The development follows a determined campaign by a group of residents who conducted a local survey, and found the community was 96% in favour of the proposed new co-op store.

Campaign spokesman Dara Gannon warned, however, it was crucial members of the community now provided real and practical support to the initiative by taking up the invitation to purchase shares, once they go on offer next month.

A public meeting will be held in late February to provide information about the proposed shop, and to offer the shares, which will be sold in blocks of €50.

“There will be no limit to the amount of shares a person can hold and all are welcome to purchase as many shares as they would like.

“When you buy shares in the co-operative, you can cast your vote at the agm to elect the board and officers,” he said.

A brochure providing information about the shop is currently being put together and will be available within a matter of weeks.

Although the organisers will be applying for a grant to establish the shop on a permanent basis, Mr Gannon said, in the meantime, community investment in the co-op through the purchase of shares was absolutely crucial to getting the shop up and running in time for summer.

“It is very much up to the community,” he said.

A committee of 11 founding members has been formed to manage the co-op through its first year. They will remain in place until the first agm later this year, at which point a new board will be elected by shareholders.

Courtmacsherry village and hinterland, which has a population of more than 500 people — which doubles during the summer months —was once a thriving coastal hub, he pointed out.

There had been a shop in the village since the mid-1870s: “Our last remaining convenience shop closed in August 2015 due to the owner retiring and the premises being sold as a private dwelling. This has left a deep void in the community.”

The nearest shops are in Barryroe and Timoleague, both several miles away.

It is envisaged the shop will sell local produce such as fresh fish and bakery products as well as the work of local craftspeople. It may also double as a local tourism information point and could potentially house exhibits such as the Patrick Keohane and Lusitania exhibitions, and provide information on cultural and historical events, along with activities such as the Seven Heads Walk incorporating the Lusitania Trail, the historical society and Butlerstown Heritage Group.


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