On arriving outside the Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen, Co Cork, Minister Michael Ring was told that he’d brought the sunny weather with him. “We have it 52 weeks a year, so we have,” came the instant reply.

The Rural and Community Affairs Minister was in typically effervescent form on a whistle-stop tour around West Cork, but was quick to point out that it was far from his first visit to these parts.

“I have been on holidays in this place many, many times,” he said.

“I know West Cork as well as I know Mayo. I bought a pair of shoes up at that corner shop, we used to love going into the bun shop for the breakfast in the morning. I tell you what I used to do — Kerry one year, Cork the next year. Keep both sides happy.”

He was certainly doing his best to keep everyone cheerful yesterday. The
Ludgate Hub, which he sees as a model for other towns to follow, has recently received €150,000 from his department, but it’s not the only place receiving goodies.

Accompanied by his colleague Jim Daly, it was off to nearby Drinagh where a new plaza will receive €80,000 in funding, and later to Clonakilty for a chat with the Tidy Towns committee and to turn the sod on a cycleway and walkway from the town to the West Cork Technology Park.

In Drinagh, Mr Daly’s home place, Mr Ring was holding court, hoisting two-year-old Fionn Connolly aloft outside the Gaelic Bar.

Fionn’s dad, Eamon, remarked that his son was the seventh generation of Connolly linked to the pub.

“Well done, fair play, you’re a great ladeen,” Mr Ring told Fionn, happy out in his hard hat.

Then everyone repaired inside for a cup of tea, while at the other end of the bar, some locals nursed a lunchtime jar and a pint bottle from the shelf.

Their enthusiasm for the project that will unfold on the street outside wasn’t quite as obvious, but they conceded that it’ll be something nice to look at. Maybe Ringer-style ebullience wasn’t catching in all quarters.

In Clonakilty Mr Ring popped into Michael Collins House, posing next to a bust of the great man, before decamping to the proposed walkway, where he didn’t so much turn the sod as lob it — three times.


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