A PLAN has been hatched to buy a mobile roof for the main street of Portlaoise and possibly Portarlington in an effort to revamp the town centres and bring trade back.
The project, which may seem a little far fetched in the era of cutbacks, could become a reality with talks well under way on how it could be funded. It is being led by the man who controls the purse strings in Laois, the county manager, Peter Carey. He also heads up Laois Tourism.
The roof, or canopy plan, is inspired by the use of a similar structure built in Cavan town for the Fleadh Cheoil last summer. It continues to be used for markets and other events.
There are hopes that a temporary structure could be bought so that the roof could be moved to be used mainly in Portlaoise and Portarlington, for festivals and other events.
The idea was part of a presentation made during the Laois Chamber AGM last week by Mark Clancy of Laois Partnership.
The agency is looking for projects to support with EU and Government cash. It has an 11 million euro budget and is considering backing the roof plan as a tourism project.
He told local business people last Friday that discussions are underway to erect a cover to facilitate the World Street Entertainment Championships in Laois.
Last year’s event was hit by bad weather and it is hoped that a roof could mean it could be held in the town centre.
“We are thinking about a covered area for the town. We had a meeting a couple of weeks back. Cavan have done it, there is also one in Mayo so it could be a Laois Tourism project.
“It should be something that should definitely should be looked at. The problem is that we are missing the festival season for this year, although it is a long term project. It could be a shared facility for the larger towns and there will hopefully be a dividend for local traders,” he said.
He told the business people that a lot of money had been spent marketing Portlaoise as an events centre but the roof could be piece of “infrastructure” that would be of long term benefit.
The idea has been discussed for some time to revitalise the town centres. The outgoing Laois Chamber president Jamie O’Hanlon is enthusiastic.
“It rejuvenates the main street and provides an alternative reasons for people to use the main street,” he said.
Discussion are underway with Downtown Portlaoise to get the project up and running.