SARURE (Save Rural Retail) South Sligo recently announced the first in a series of events for 2019 and 2020. This free event will take place in the Coach House Hotel in Ballymote on Wednesday, 13th November at 7.15pm.-8.30pm. South and West Sligo Tourism are delighted to be a stakeholder and support this event which will look at the future of the retail industry in rural Sligo.

The guest speaker on the night is Jean McCabe from Willow Boutique, who will be joined for a panel discussion by Richard McCarthy from Richard McCarthy Photography and Marie O’Hara, Manager, Tubbercurry & District Credit Union. They will be discussing the retail industry in rural Ireland and Sligo and how they see the future of retail developing.

The guest speaker Jean McCabe has a spirit of adventure, which has underpinned her life and career story. Inspired by a world of possibility and unfazed by obstacles, she came an unconventional route to retail. Jean holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Limerick and at the age of 21 created the Willow brand and her first fashion retail store in Ennis. A second store in Galway and a successful on-line business later, she still maintains an infectious enthusiasm for the customer experience. Jean is former President of Ennis Chamber of Commerce, winner of Retail Excellence Store of the Year 2019 and Deputy-chair of Retail Excellence Ireland.

Richard is a wedding, portrait and commercial photographer with over ten years’ experience. His studio is based in Tubbercurry, County Sligo. Originally from Kerry, Richard studied Computer Science in LIT before joining EDS working on projects across Europe for companies such as Opel Ireland, Saab, General Motors Europe and the UK dept of Social Security. In 1999 Richard was part of the team that set up one of the very first cloud-based systems in the world for GM in Sweden. When Richard married a Sligo woman in 2003, he swapped the flying lifestyle for home and gradually moved back to Sligo working for various IT companies such as Activant and Trojan IT. When the recession hit in 2007, Richard was lucky enough to be working part time as a wedding photographer at the weekends. When he was made redundant, Richard took on the role of photography with open arms and grew his business into a full-time business. Even though he came from an IT background, Richard grew up during the age of Facebook and social media. It helped him build an online presence in each of his business areas. Now Richard is concentrating on providing content for other businesses around Sligo through images and video.

Marie O’Hara is the manager of Tubbercurry Credit Union and has lived in Tullinaglug, Tourlestrane for the past 36 years. Marie worked as a cost accountant in Basta locks in the eighties. After giving up work to be a full-time mother when her children were small, Marie was asked to join a study group in Tubbercurry in 1992 with a view to setting up a credit union office.  With the hard work of approximately 20 local people, they opened the Tubbercurry & District Credit Union office in October 1993. At the beginning, all work was voluntary to get the office up and running. Then, due to increased workload, Marie was employed from 1999 and became Manager in 2001 when the new office was opened on the square in Tubbercurry.  There are now 4 staff in the office with over 4000 members. Marie acknowledges the positive affect of being involved in the local community and feels the Credit Union is a great asset to the local area.

Ray O’Grady, Sligo County Council discusses the projects background “The traditional model of high street retailing is under significant pressure in the modern age. The rise of both on-line and out of centre discount retailing has created a much changed competitive environment. . The pressure on the high street retail sector is being felt most acutely in rural areas of not just County Sligo but in similar such areas all over Europe. In this context Sligo County Council has partnered with Local Authorities and Universities from across the continent to seek innovative solutions to the growing problem of the loss of vital retail services in our valuable rural communities. We look forward to this first event discussing the future of rural retail in Sligo”.

SARURE is an Interreg Europe project to which Sligo County Council is partnered. It is an inter-regional cooperation project which is tasked with improving policies aimed at SME competitiveness. The project is led by the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services of Teruel (Spain) and we are joined by partners from Germany, Greece, Spain, Finland, Poland and Sweden. The project is funded by the European Development Fund and will run from June 2019 until November of 2022. The project is led in Sligo County Council by Michael Carty and Ray O’Grady.