Exciting year ahead for Blarney & District Chamber of Commerce

As we start a new year we look back on what Blarney Chamber of Commerce has achieved over the past year, and what we hope to achieve in 2015.

We continued to build strong links with Avondhu Blackwater Development who have provided, in conjunction with the Chamber, access to business training. More than 110 Blarney business people have attended business training provided by us and delivered by Avondhu Blackwater. For the majority of those who attended this would have been too expensive to access but again this was provided at no charge to members.

The Tourist Office remains open throughout the entire year due to funding from our members. This is thanks to the efforts of PJ Lynch who, along with the dedicated staff, have ensured that whilst tourist offices around the country had limited opening days and hours, Blarney was provided with a round the year service. The costs of this are borne by Blarney Chamber with assistance from Failte Ireland, and staffing from Avondhu Blackwater. The tourist office is by far our greatest expense but in a tourist town like Blarney we see this as an investment and are happy to be in a position to support this with the help of funding from our members. Thanks also to Deborah Maguire Irishmadegifts.com who keeps the Tourist Office stocked with her wonderful products, and Mary Ring Mulcahy CPC Training who looks after the aesthetics.

Our weekly networking meetings held in various establishments around Blarney have provided access to local business networking, allowing trade to happen between members, enabling members to refer each other where relevant and to meet for a coffee and a chat in a structured environment.

In May we launched a website http://blarneychamber.com, which we hope will be come a resource not just for Chamber members but for the community at large. The site will be updated and added to as new members join the Chamber and as new opportunities to support local businesses arise. The Chamber’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BlarneyChamberOfCommerce is a valuable forum for useful information, meeting notices and community events. Please Like the page to be kept up to date with announcements. We are also on Twitter at @blarneychamber.

And not forgetting, our very own Blarney Golden Globes! In conjunction with The Muskerry News, we host the Blarney Person of the Year awards. It is always a memorable night, and we look forwarded to next weekend when we unveil the 2014 winner, although all nominees are winners of the highest order.

Over the year we have also lent our support to, and worked with, Blarney Tidy Towns, Blarney Policing Forum and Blarney Vintage Car Club to name but a few local organisations. The fabulous flowers pots on our lamp posts were a direct initiative from one of our members who, along with Tom MacGrath and Denis Murphy, managed to bring a time consuming and costly project to fruition. We continue to commit to sponsoring the BART text system. This provide text alerts to the community in the event of criminality happening. In conjunction with our community Garda, Sean O’Dwyer, we are delighted to be in a position to support this.

Christmas is always exciting in the village and the switching on of the lights on the square, thanks to the ongoing support of Charles and Caroline at Blarney Castle, has become an anticipated annual event. The fact that the lights did not go on after our first count this year only made it all the more exciting! Ian and Una Forrest surpassed themselves with the great reception they hosted afterwards at The Castle Hotel.

The village came together to support an initiative by Blarney Chamber of Commerce member Deborah MaGuire to provide gifts for those less fortunate children who are currently living in nearby Direct Provision Centres. The big hearted pupils from both Scoil Chroi Iosa and Gaelscoil Mhuscrai came together before Christmas to support this and the response was overwhelming from both schools, sending a big Blarney Happy Christmas to over 250 children in Cork County.

All of this has been made possible by a growing and dedicated group of people who want the best for the village they love. Our members support our activities through their subscription. I think it is fair to say we have aimed for, and given, excellent value for money to our members. We now look forward to continuing to work together and embracing the opportunities and challenges it brings.

Blarney and District Chamber of Commerce… helping to make Blarney a better place to work, live and play.