Friday, February 27, 2009

First-Time Buyer Seminar - March 5th

We are running a First-Time Buyers Seminar in conjunction with FOH Mortgages and Binchy Solicitors on Thursday 5th March at 6.15pm in the Clonmel Park Hotel.

Register now by emailing or calling 052-6121622.

See you there.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pedestrianisation in Clonmel Town Centre

At various times it has been suggested that areas of Clonmel be pedestrianised.
Currently, only Mitchel St is pedestrianised. The traders there think that it has been a great success.
For younger readers, who may not remember when it was open to traffic, it was always slightly dangerous, being so narrow, with equally narrow footpaths! Riding a bike down there when I was a child was risky but fun.
When pedestrianised, the Corporation (as it was then), resurfaced the street and paths, softening the surface and blending path and street.

Some traders in Gladstone and O’Connell St are in favour of further pedestrianisation, to encompass Sarsfield St; Gladstone St from the Main Guard to Market St and O’Connell St from the Main Guard to Bridge/Mary St.

In reality, these are the prime trading locations in town.

Those arguing for say that it would make the area a much more appealing location than it is, with potential for “sidewalk cafes” and perhaps a revived market area.
Seating and amenities could be developed that would enhance the experience of visiting the town centre.
These amenities might also encourage people to consider living on our Main Streets again. At present there are no amenities to encourage this. Surely all good for traders?
A further benefit would be the opening up of the Main Guard. This is a focal point and has been recently renovated by the OPW. Its open arches are a great venue for street performances, but passing traffic causes many restrictions at present.

Those arguing against say that removing the cars from the street will reduce the impact of their shop window and discourage shoppers, driving them to out-of-town centres, where they have free parking close to retail outlets. So it’s back to parking again. They cite recent discussions on pedestrianisation in Waterford to support their views.

What do you think?
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Pancake Tuesday in Clonmel

It is Pancake Tuesday in Clonmel. A number of "celebrities" gathered under the Main Guard to toss pancakes and sell them for local charities. Mattie McGrath (Fianna Fail), Dan Costigan(Independent) who is the only qualified chef amongst the group, and a representative of Tom Hayes (Fine Gael) who were doing the cooking when I visited, with John Crosse (Fine Gael) looking on from a safe distance.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bulmers layoffs

One of Clonmel's flagship industries, Cider maker Bulmers, is to cut 103 jobs at its plant in Clonmel.

Aidan Murphy, a Director at C&C Group, told staff this morning that up to 50 management jobs will go, with the balance coming from a reduction in operators.

Murphy said: 'Today is a very difficult day for the company as we implement a number of redundancies, right across the business.
'This action is necessary in order to protect future jobs and safeguard the viability of the company.'
Two years ago, Bulmers employed more than 600 workers, following a huge expansion on the back of improved cider sales. At that stage 150 were let go, now a further reduction of 103 will go through voluntary redundancies.
Last week, a number of senior management people were let go.

This is a sad day for Clonmel, but it is a particularly bleak day for the staff who are losing their jobs. These workers and their families still have mortgages to pay, children to get through school and all in an uncertain jobs environment.
Our thoughts are with them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A sideways look at the parking problem in Clonmel

As part of the Clonmel Chamber initiative, I am on the team concentrating on ways of improving the Town Centre. I am joined in this by Ken Hennessy (Hennessy Doyle Architects), Conor Moroney (Moroney Shoes) and Des Hourigan (permanenttsb Clonmel).
Ask any town centre trader what is the largest limiting factor on the town centre and most will answer insufficient parking.
The following car park facilities available in Clonmel at present:
Free All-day car-park at Gashouse Bridge
Reduced rate All-day Car-parks at Suir Island, The Quay/Anglesea St, Gordon Place
Regular pay Car-parks at Irishtown, The Quay, and Mary St/Town Centre

Up to now, the focus has been on the construction of a multi-storey in the town centre to cater for shoppers.
The Borough Council owned Mary St car park has been put forward as the best potential site... since I came back to work in Clonmel 24 years ago!
There are title and right-of-way difficulties which have precluded this site from being developed.

It may be time to re-appraise the entire problem and approach it from a different angle.
The Gashouse bridge site is wholly owned by the Borough Council, with no apparent title difficulties. It is currently used by office workers to park their cars for the whole day.
The reduced rate all-day car-parks at Suir Island, The Quay/Anglesea St, Gordon Place are used by largely the same people. These car-parks are very well located, close to the town centre.
If the Gashouse bridge site was developed as a multi-storey to house all the office workers, it would free up the car-parks at Suir Island, The Quay/Anglesea St and Gordon Place to be used as regular pay car-parks to facilitate shoppers.
This is a sideways look at the problem, but it may be a good one?

Let me know what you think.

Clonmel Voucher Scheme

As previously posted, I am taking part in the Clonmel Chamber sponsored exercise on improving the town.
The plan is that by “brain-storming” the various issues that arise around the town, a cogent report will be prepared that can be presented to the Borough Council for their consideration. As all the contributors are rate-payers, I hope we are listened to.
The first general meetings have focused on a Voucher shopping scheme for the town retailers.
A bonus, gift or payment up to a maximum of €250 per person per year is not liable for tax or PRSI (from employer or employee) provided it is not paid in cash.
To encourage those who get their earnings in Clonmel to spend in Clonmel, a Shopping Voucher Scheme will be introduced.
Clonmel Chamber will sell vouchers at face value.
Vouchers will be exchangeable for goods and services from participating Clonmel businesses.
Vouchers will not be exchangeable for cash.
Participating businesses will receive payment against valid vouchers at Clonmel Chamber in accordance with the terms of the Clonmel Shopping Voucher Agreement.
This has worked very well in other towns, so it will hopefully work just as well in Clonmel.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sasha in Liquidation

Clothing chain Sasha, has gone into liquidation.
The chain has a store in Clonmel, on Gladstone St, right opposite our office. The Clonmel store employed 7 people.
Nationally, the chain runs 42 stores and employs 300 people.
David Carson, of Delloite, the same man who handled the Waterford Crystal closure, was appointed examiner to the company that owns Sasha last December, however the High Court was told yesterday that due to a sharp deterioration in trading conditions, there was no longer a reasonable prospect of the company’s survival.
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Still Alive!

St Peter & Pauls Church, Gladstone St.

We are still selling houses, despite all predictions of doom for the Irish housing market. Plenty of viewings are taking place, offers being made and properties being sold. The comparative monthly statistics for viewings and offers at our Clonmel office are as follows:

Jan 2008: Viewings 84 Offers 32
Jan 2009: Viewings 94 Offers 26

A reflection of the market is that more viewings resulted in less offers. In better times, there were many bidders for each house. Now, the bidders are more widely spread, with one or two bidders per house.
Activity is mainly restricted to the typical 3-bed semi, a first-time buyer’s house. Prices here range from around €185-215k, depending on condition and location.
First-time buyers seem to be the only ones who can get finance at present. Most banks are keen to lend to them and are cutting good deals. Some vendors are also keen to sell, for many reasons, and these two facts have ensured that the lower end of the market is still alive. With lower interest rates and lower prices, it is now cheaper to buy a home than at any time in the last 5 years. It is also cheaper to buy than to rent!
This has led to a shortage of suitable houses, as the supply of houses coming to the market over the last few months is traditionally slow. So despite media reports that housing is not selling, we are facing a shortage of well-priced, well-located starter homes.
I speak to other agents around the country on a weekly basis. Very few of them are having the same results as us. Those that are having the same results are following the same formula as us. It is the way we always did things.
Market knowledge means pricing houses correctly, not misleading vendors with inflated valuations. In better times, many agents played a game of over-valuing houses to get the instruction. They then sat on the property for 3-4 months, waiting for the market to catch up, or for the vendor to reduce in price, so they could get a sale. In a falling market, such as we now have, it is impossible to sell a house that is over-priced. To sell, you must match or undercut the current market. As the market falls, the longer a house stays on the market, the lower will be the eventual sale price, so the owner will lose money by an agent taking this approach.
Being available and facilitating to buyers... at all times. Our competitors have drastically reduced their opening hours. We have the longest opening hours of all. If someone wants to view a property, we will show it to them.
Being able to talk to and empathise with buyers is equally important. When we meet with prospective buyers, we build a relationship with them. They will be sellers (and therefore clients) one day. Many buyers tell stories of the bad attitude of agents from other firms. It’s easy to be nice!

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Monday, February 9, 2009


No, not a picture of Clonmel in the recent heavy snow. While both Slievenamon and the Comeraghs had a good covering of snow, still there as I write, they do not have a lift system to enable us to ski!

Statcounter tells me that this blog has 9 Austrian readers. I wonder can any of them (or any of the rest of you) recognise the mountains and the resort? Special mention to anyone who does.

Hint: It is in the Austrian Tyrol. Recent downhill race there. My favourite Austrian resort.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Flooding in Clonmel last week

I was away over the last few days, as areas of Clonmel flooded. By all accounts, it was the worst flooding for the last 5 years or so. The river rose over two meters higher than normal and up to 40 people had to be rescued from their homes. The familiar areas of Convent Bridge, Old Bridge and O'Connell terrace were worst hit, while The Quay and the main Waterford Road were impassable, as were all the town bridges. Serious flooding also took place in Ardfinnan and Knocklofty.

The Flood Relief works are about 50% completed, with c. €20m of a total package of €44m spent to date. It is due to be finished in 2012.

As I was away, I did not get any photos! Thanks to Barry Meehan who postedsome pictures and wrote about the floods here.