Clonakilty has a long record of generating goodwill projects. It was the first Fairtrade Town in Ireland. Its Sustainable Clonakilty organisation aims to have the area energy independent by 2020 and its myriad of festivals depend on the goodwill of their organisers. All voluntary, ground up initiatives.
Goodwill is something that’s abundant in this little corner of Ireland. People you don’t know will salute you going down the street because they might have seen you before. Strangers will stop you on the street to tell you the latest sporting success for the town, to talk about the weather, or nothing in particular.
You know when you go somewhere, you can get a good sense for the place in the first few minutes? Here, there is an easy welcoming feeling that makes you want to stay. And stay people have. There is an eclectic mix of the new, outside influence alongside the local and traditional. It creates a sense of grounded creativity and energy that’s warm and inviting. You can’t quantify it or describe it, you have to feel it.
The location of Clonakilty adds a lot to its attraction. Within 10 minutes of 5 beaches, under an hour to Cork city, and surrounded by rolling green hills, it’s both near and far enough away from what we would consider “the Big Smoke” of Cork to nurture its own unique identity.
It’s that mix of identity and warmth that attracts so many artistic and creative types here. De Barras is a pub on the main street whose walls bear witness to the hundreds of well- known artists who have played there over the years. It’s now an established venue for any national tour of small and not so small venues and certainly would seem to punch above its weight at first inspection. But De Barras is a much loved venue for all who frequent it.
There’s that word again, “love”. There’s a school of thought that would say it’s overused and undervalued, but in Clonakilty it expresses the deep emotional connections the locals have for their town. It’s a wonderful place to