President’s Blog – Arise and Go

Hello Members, as the days grow warmer and longer and the nights get shorter, it becomes ever clearer that we are approaching June, mid- Summer and of course Yeats Day which this year is being celebrated on June 13.  Tourism is one of the key pillars of Sligo Chamber, and as I have mentioned in previous blogs, it is the Sligo Chamber vision that by the year 2040, two million people annually will visit our iconic tourism attractions along the northern region of the Wild Atlantic Way.  And many of those tourist visitors will be here in this region because of Yeats and his strong connection to Sligo.

This year 2019 is, would you believe, the 80th Anniversary of the death of Yeats.  Included in the events to celebrate Yeats in Sligo this year is the launch of a new book “Arise and Go: W.B. Yeats and the people and places that inspired him”.  The book is written by Kevin Connolly owner of the Winding Stair Bookshop and Café on Dublin’s Ormond Quay.  Connolly a lifelong devotee to Yeats named the shop after Yeats’ book of poems “The Winding Stair and other Poems”.  His research of Yeats has led to a deep affection with Sligo and he has an earlier book written in 2010 called “Yeats and Sligo”.

His new book is based on the people who surrounded Yeats over the course of his life and discusses how they influenced his writings.  Connolly traces Yeats life not only through Sligo but to Dublin and London and how the family coped with poverty while his father John Butler Yeats made the transition from barrister to artist, much to the annoyance of the solid middle-class family of his Sligo mother Susan, the Pollexfens.   The book also recounts stories of Yeats’ wife George, Lady Gregory and of course Iseult and Maud Gonne whose haunting influence both inspired and haunted Yeats throughout his life.   “Arise and Go” was launched by another Susan, Susan O’Keefe at the Yeats Building on Thursday last May 16.

Meanwhile it was another active week for the Sligo Chamber Team.  Our Industrial Group held their monthly meeting on Tuesday under the Chairmanship of David Kiely.  As President, it is important for me to attend the Industrial Group meetings as this group closely tracks the interests of our business members and it helps keep me directly informed of their interests and how best to promote them.  However, as all members are only too acutely aware, there are pressing engagements in business that require priorities to be given and decisions made.  I also serve on the Executive Board of the Association of Consulting Engineers.  Their AGM in Dublin at which I had to make a presentation was also on Tuesday.  I had to prioritise and make the decision to unfortunately miss the Industrial Group meeting.

Dublin was also the focus this week for our CEO Aidan and our Skillnet Manager Geraldine.  Aidan attended the Chambers Ireland Chief Executives meeting on Wednesday which included a presentation on the Social Responsibility of businesses, a worthy item for consideration but as Aidan highlighted at the meeting not as straightforward for indigenous SMEs as it may appear to multinationals.  No doubt, a topic to return to for further discussion another day.   Geraldine bettered Aidan by spending two days in Dublin with Skillnet Ireland.  This time, rather than organising the training, Geraldine was undergoing training in Skillnet processes, standards and audits.   Another busy man giving of his time for Sligo Chamber was David Kiely, who travelled to Limerick to make a presentation to the Atlantic Economic Corridor Low Carbon Group of which he is a member.

The week finished for the Sligo Chamber Team on Sunday with CEO Aidan and myself as President attending the National Commemoration of the Great Famine which was held this year in Sligo.  Led by the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, and Josepha Madigan, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the ceremony afforded the community in Sligo the opportunity to honour the memory of those who lost their lives during those terrible years, as well as those who left from Sligo Port in search of a better life.  The population of County Sligo fell by one third during that time between those who died of hunger and disease and those who emigrated.  What a contrast between the quality of life in the Sligo of 1849 and the Sligo of 2019 when today we are actively promoting Sligo as a region to move to because of the quality of life in a community-led environment.

So that’s it for another week

Until next time

Life is for Living – #Life is Sligo.

 Conor McCarthy

President Sligo Chamber