Google may have offered to build homes to ease Dublin’s housing crisis, but the biggest company in Castleisland, Co Kerry, is already doing just that.
Publishing company Walsh Colour Print, which employs 115 people including 85 people at its headquarters in Castleisland, announced two years ago that it wanted to build houses which it would make available at cost price to its long-term employees.
Castleisland, like other Kerry towns, was under pressure with no rental accommodation and few opportunities to buy homes.
Many of the company’s highly skilled IT, print, and graphic design workers had been employed with the firm for over a decade and were in their 30s and wanted family homes at an affordable price in the town.
The idea was also to facilitate the staff so they might remain in the growing town.
Workers would be offered first refusal on the homes, which would be priced at less than €150,000, it was announced. And it was hoped the development would be started within two years, said Patricia Walsh, who co-owns the company with her husband, Tony.
Ms Walsh said the firm managed to hold onto its staff during the recession.
“The houses will be a variety of sizes and of very good standard. Our employees will get them at the price they are built,” she said.
Now two years later, the company has finalised planning matters, a local contractor has been engaged, and work has started on the first of nine houses at Bawnluskaha on the old Limerick road just outside the town.
“We anticipate that the first of the new houses will be completed by next spring,” said Mr Walsh.
The houses will be sold as a not-for-profit enterprise.
He said the A-rated houses will be available to all permanent staff, hopefully costing under €150,000.
“Consequently, our employees, when they retire, will be in the privileged position of owning their own home,” said Mr Walsh.