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Coastguard Station is a hive of activity


Later this month the mayor of a city called Matsue on the Japanese island of Honshu will visit Tramore. What could be bringing the mayor of this city of nearly 200,000 peo- ple to this seaside resort in the Deise? The story goes back to the year 2000 when the Tramore Development Trust was established to look at the potential of Tramore and to identify buildings and areas that could be adapted for community use. Since then the Trust has developed the


existing gardens of Tramore house into the Japanese themed Lefcadio Ahearne Gardens, which is attracting numerous overseas visitors to the town, including the traveling Matsue mayor. The Trust has also developed the former Coast Guard Station into a bustling art centre and coffee shop, which is where I went recently to meet Ann Harpur, the chair of the trust. The building, which over-


but surely it became an art gallery and then it became a concert space but the last thing we did was put in the coffee shop. It was a case of suck it and see but then the coffee shop really took off. All of the profits from here are pumped back in to the building. The trust is a voluntary organisation with char- itable status and this place is for the town, for the people. There is a minimal charge for artists to exhibit here. It’s great for young artists starting off as a springboard. It is a multi-functional space; we have


“It


looks the beautiful Doneraile Walk, was originally used as a coast guard station, then as a Garda station before being left derelict for a number of years. “People used to walk along the Doneraille with magnificent views of the sea to one side and then this incredible building left vacant on the other side” says Ann, an architect and trust founder. The building was finally taken over by the OPW and renovated under the auspices of Martin Cullen. It was then hand- ed over to the local council who licenced it to the trust for community use. “It was given over to the community so it


had to be made viable, we thought we have to make this work” explains Ann. “It was used at first as a community space but slowly


has been really successful. We started slowly to see what would work and we are constantly tapping in to what peo- ple want....”


room for three different exhibitions. The upstairs then is used for exhibitions of sculpture, ceramics, art instal- lations, video work. It is also used by local groups to run afternoon tea for charities, it has been used for weddings and funerals and everything in between. It has also been used as an intimate 60 seater concert space, people can bring their own wine and sit on the couches listening to music.


It has been really successful. We started


slowly to see what would work and we are constantly tapping in to what people want. We wanted it to be a place that represents what is happening here in the region.” Last year a group of business people from


the town centre formed the Town Manage- ment Group and along with members of the council and the community continue to look at how to best improve the town centre. This has included a link up this year with the Wa- terford Walls Project (www.waterfordwalls. ie) which has already seen a number of walls being decorated with street art with more on the way over the coming month.


“Tramore is so vibrant at the moment. When the trust was set up in 2000 we did a public meeting and we had a slide show of images of the town as it was and we said something has to be done. When I was doing the website I came across those slides and you have no idea of the transformation, it is quite extraordinary, it has improved so much. There is a sense of vibrancy in the town. The amalgamation has been extremely


good for Tramore. Our town manager Billy Duggan has been fantastic, he is so enthu- siastic about Tramore. It means that we are thinking in a unified way and we are looking at the potential of city, county and region. It’s a much broader way of thinking. It has been very positive and you can see the results here in Tramore.” The Trust members, which also include Agnes Aylward, John Smiles, Louise Grubb & Joe Stokes, are now looking at establishing a design hub in the town and are actively look- ing for a space in which to develop this idea. Here’s hoping their next venture will be


felt as far away as Japan.


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WATERFORD 15


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