Kells Local Heros
Things are happening in Kells:
2018 is shaping up to be a great year in Kells. Every other week now in the Town, various groups, committees and organisations are meeting behind closed doors planning on projects and the calendar for the year ahead suggests, this will be the most vibrant one in Kells for quite a long time.
Ever since Kells Local Heroes (KLH) was established in December 2011, things have been happening on a planned gradual basis which, bit-by bit, are helping to transform the Town’s commercial, tourist, artistic and social life.
When Hollywood actress Maureen O’Hara received the Freedom of Kells in May 2012, a KLH programme on painting over 60 unsightly buildings was well underway aimed primarily at making the Town a more attractive place to visit, shop, invest and recommend.
A number of issues were identified by the KLH Team which, according to Chairman Ken Murray, are now works in progress.
“The KLH Team felt certain matters needed to be addressed such as the look of the Town, raising awareness of what Kells has to offer and re-invigorating commercial activity.
“We held a number of ‘Town Hall’ meetings to identify the issues and we’ve been working on a dedicated programme over the last six years.”
One of the early issues that became a priority was the dilapidated state of the Playground at the Fair Green.
“We teamed up with a number of other groups in the Town and Councillor Sarah Reilly to lobby Meath Council and eventually our persistence paid off,” said Ken.
“Kells now has one of the best playgrounds in the Country which also happens to be disability-friendly and its development has proven popular with parents and children alike.”
KLH has also developed the summer street party, the Christmas live Crib and worked around the clock to re-open the closed Cinema on Suffolk Street for a weekend in December 2012 all aimed at bringing back a sense of community to the Town.
Other initiatives have included a series of Conferences aimed at developing commercial activity, the Arts and the bio-diversity of the area.
Added to all this has been the emergence of the Kells Type Trail under the leadership of Mark Smith, which has helped enormously to raise awareness about the extraordinary contribution the town of Kells has played in developing ‘type’ as an art form and the evolution of print in the modern World.
Other initiatives which have benefitted the Town in the past five years has been the Hay-on Wye literary festival which was re-branded as “Hinterland” in 2017 and has seen some of the biggest names in world literature come to Kells.
This year’s Programme will see more big literary names coming to Kells and all will be revealed in early Summer.
The growing profile of the Guth Gafa Film Festival has helped enormously to bring leading movie producers to Kells which, likewise, has helped greatly to raise the profile of the Town, Meath and Ireland as a source for great stories.
And all that is just for starters!
The great achievements of Kells Local Heroes and the numerous awards it has picked up since 2011, were recognised last year when The Heritage Council based in Kilkenny, selected the Town as a pilot or test location from 22 other applicants for its latest iniative.
In the coming months, Castle St. and John St. will get a cosmetic makeover aimed at restoring a heritage look thus adding to the positive image of the Town.
A Report on further development of the Town will be published by The Heritage Council in the coming weeks and will see Meath County Council committing more resources and project work to the Town.
In the meantime, The Sawmills on Church Lane has been awarded a €100,000 Government grant and will be re-constructed in the coming months to become an arts centre.
It will be complete with a unique manual printing press which in turn will develop the arts sector in the area while simultaneously proving to be a popular tourist attraction.
Elsewhere and thanks to Meath County Council and Fáilte Ireland, the old Court House on the Navan road will open shortly as The Kells Heritage Centre where the story of the Boyne Valley will be on display.
Talks are also ongoing with the Office of Public Works about improving signage for the various monuments and historic structures around the Town aimed at improving the tourist experience in Kells.
According to Ken Murray of KLH, “things are happening in a way that they are not happening anywhere else in Meath and it’s all because various groups in the Town are working with each other and for each other with the overall objective of making Kells a better place to visit, work and live in. 2018 is shaping up to a great year and we’ve only just begun.”