Summer camps support nearly 140 children from refugee families and Direct Provision

Summer camps support nearly 140 children from refugee families and Direct Provision

Clare Local Development Company was delighted to host 5 summer camp programs in Clare this year.

These camps focused on improving children’s English through a variety of activities, making new friends, staying active and having loads of fun.

Each camp we got to meet different children living in the area by hosting camps in Ennis, Kilkee, Shannon, Lisdoonvarna and Ballyvaughan. Activities including sports, drama, games, dance, outdoor activities, arts & crafts and loads more. Even a visit from the Ice cream van in all venues.

We would like to thank all the children who took part, and a special thanks so all at CLDC that made these camps happen. Thanks to each venue for allowing us to bring the camps to those areas, and to the camp leaders for making sure these children had a fun filled experience.

We look forward to hopefully seeing you again soon!

Refugee Week Fun Run builds solidarity, friendship and respect

Refugee Week Fun Run builds solidarity, friendship and respect

Sanctuary Runners came together to run in solidarity at Lee’s Road last Sunday for the very first Refugee Week Fun Run-Midwest. With over 70 attendees of all ages and abilities from across Clare, the midwest, and the world, it was a gathering of warmth, welcomes and respect.

The event, organised by Sanctuary Runners with the collaboration and support of the SICAP program within Clare Local Development Company, Clare Immigrant Support Centre, Clare Sports Partnership, Clare Volunteer Centre and attended by An Garda Siochana, brought people from all corners of the county to run/ walk/ jog as one. All new runners/ walkers/ joggers received one of the iconic Sanctuary Runners blue t-shirts and completed up to 5km through the beautiful surrounds of John O’Sullivan Park.

Following their endeavours, attendees gathered for tea, chats and refreshments, with goodie bags for all the children. Everyone received a Certificate of Participation to mark their part in this special first for the area.

Graham Clifford, founder and CEO of Sanctuary Runners spoke to all attendees in advance of the run: “The reason for Sanctuary Runners is to bring people together, wherever they are from, to run as one, united in our blue t shirts, sharing this experience. It is particularly special to be in Clare to mark this event and enjoy the warmth of the atmosphere created by our volunteers and everyone who has come together here today.”

With the rain staying away on the day, people basked not just in the sunshine at Lee’s Road, but also in the warmth of new connections and friendships, feeling connected to a bigger community, feeling part of a bigger movement and feeling seen and recognised for their worth and contribution.

Sanctuary Runners have recently appointed Jennifer O’Brien as the Regional Development Officer for the Midwest. With a dedicated staff member in the area Sanctuary Runners plan to continue their positive relationships, with supports and services in Clare and across the midwest to further community integration and continue sharing the values of solidarity, friendship and respect.

Sanctuary Runners Ennis meet regularly at the Fairgreen/ Tim Smyth Park. Anyone interested in joining Sanctuary Runners can email

Find out more about Sanctuary Runners at

Ukrainian Response Projects: Children’s Holiday & Festival of Culture!

Ukrainian Response Projects: Children’s Holiday & Festival of Culture!

On International Children’s Day, a holiday was held for Ukrainian children living in County Clare.

On June 1, about fifty Ukrainian children came to a holiday organized by Clare Local Development Company at a children’s entertainment center in Ennis. Rides, pizza, ice cream, lots of friends and smiles…We were delighted to see families from the surrounding towns of County Clare. Some came from Kilkee, some from Lisdoonvarna and Ballyvaughan. Parents could also get to know each other, talk about common topics and share their impressions with their compatriots.


We tried very hard to make the kids feel happy, and spend time with their friends. This year was difficult for them. After all, life has radically changed: Their native schools and kindergartens, classmates and friends, favorite toys, room, country and even language had to be changed. We know how many difficult moments had to be overcome, how many new things to learn during this time. There is incredible gratitude to the Irish people who sheltered and truly protected these children from Russian missiles. Gratitude to the teachers who treat them so attentively and sincerely, and to new classmates who managed to help heal mental wounds.


Currently, the Ukrainian Response Team is actively planning and preparing for the Festival of Ukrainian Culture: “Discover Ukraine”, which is scheduled for August 18-20. This festival will be held on the eve of the Independence Day of Ukraine, which is the beginning of a new independent history of this country.

The main goal of the festival is the integration of the Ukrainian community, and demonstration of the traditions and culture of Ukraine. We plan to introduce local citizens to traditional cuisine, art, literature, music and dances of the Ukrainian people. Among the planned events is a meeting with the famous Ukrainian writer Serhii Adamenko (known in Ireland as Patrick), and a craft market where Ukrainians will be able to sell handmade products, paintings, and a large selection of various Ukrainian dishes. Another event we are looking forward to will be the presentation of a short feature film about the integration of Ukrainian teenagers. This film is currently being shot, and Ukrainian and Irish teenagers take part in it. The final part of the festival will be a big concert at which Ukrainian musicians, dancers, and singers will perform. It will be held in Lisdoonvarna.

We plan to cooperate with other counties in Ireland, so we expect guests from Galway, Dublin, Limerick and other regions.

Come and join us there!

Clare Traveller Community Development Project celebrates success at launch of Strategic Plan

Clare Traveller Community Development Project celebrates success at launch of Strategic Plan

True community development is about trusting communities to develop their own solutions and pathways.”

The above words were spoken by Minister Joe O’Brien, as the Clare Traveller Community Development Project (CDP) launched their Strategic Plan yesterday. 

At CLDC, we couldn’t agree more, and we are really proud of what the Traveller CDP has accomplished. The launch was a momentous occasion, and a real opportunity to celebrate what has already been achieved, as we look forward to what comes next.

CLDC is the host organisation for the Traveller CDP, and we are also one of the members of the Steering Group that supports them. The Traveller CDP aims to improve living conditions, opportunities and achievement of human rights for Travellers in Clare, and this will be pursued through establishing and strengthening local alliances and, most importantly, through building effective Traveller leadership and a strong Traveller voice. The new Strategic Plan outlines the approach that will be taken by the project over the next three years.

The event was well attended, by people across many organisations and agencies as well as members of the Travelling community. Ciara Griffin, our CLDC coordinator who oversees the Traveller CDP, shared her excitement about the event and everything it represents:

“We [CLDC] have been supporting the hardest-to-reach communities, including Travellers, for many years, and it’s great to see the groundswell of support that was reflected at yesterday’s launch…it’s a really positive indication of progress. It’s not just that the project is in place, but that it’s doing really well! The collaboration between organisations is really strong, the Community Development Project model is really strong, The team behind the project is invested, and the CDP structure provides the support needed to develop Traveller leadership. The level of support coming from the Department is also very positive; they can see and are acknowledging all the work being done on the ground. This is a great example of where collaboration works.”

Minister O’Brien (who is the Minister for Community Development and Charities,) was very supportive of the Traveller CDP, as he spoke about the Strategic Plan and the issues faced by the Travelling community. “Community Development is all about supporting and empowering communities to face current and future challenges, and this is evident in abundance in this plan. I welcome how clear the plan is about the size of the challenge, and the very serious issues facing members of the Travelling community: in housing, living conditions, access to education and employment, the lived everyday experience of discrimination, and unfortunately – the grave reality of the unacceptable levels of mental health issues affecting the Travelling community.”

He added, “I’m very impressed by the obvious level of positive engagement and involvement by members of the Travelling community in the planning process of this strategic plan.”

A key piece highlighted by many voices present, was the importance of this project being Traveller-led. “The capacity of the Traveller community to take this and lead it, is absolutely, totally essential,” said Brian Dillon (left), who consulted on the plan, and outlined the strategy for us.

Bridgie Casey (below), who is the coordinator for the Traveller CDP and a member of the Travelling community, told us, “We’re happy that the community came together, to look at the areas of work that need to be done. The key areas are accommodation, health, education, and culture/identity. So we’re hoping to build that relationship with the agencies, [with our] Traveller leaders.”

Josephine Fogarty, the coordinator of Traveller health services with the HSE who has worked closely with Travellers for many years, echoed sentiments of excitement, along with the importance of both collaboration and Traveller leadership. She said, “Today is a great day for the Traveller community in Clare; it’s something we’ve looked for for quite a number of years now. It’s brilliant to see the Traveller community, the steering group and all the agencies that are supporting the Traveller community in Clare. This CDP will make a difference, and it IS working in partnership with Travellers, and it wants Travellers to be empowered, for them to decide what they want to do to make their lives better in Clare.”

An inspiring voice from the Traveller community came from Anne Marie Quilligan (left), who is a Traveller and a Social Work Master’s Student. She brought palpable appreciation and emotion to the room as she spoke about how she has been impacted by her time with Bridgie Casey (who is one of her mentors,) and these Traveller-led community development efforts. “[Bridgie] made me proud to be a Traveller. I used to question my identity…Bridgie is the reason I’m so proud.”

Anne Marie also spoke passionately about the pathway to change. “We need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Changes are not going to come without difficult conversations.” This was echoed by Brian DIllon, who said, “We have to face up to the fact that this isn’t easy. But I can see that it’s starting in Clare. What I can see happening in Clare, is that the Travellers are now being asked.”

Adding to the discussion around the plan being Traveller-led, our CEO Doirin Graham (right) spoke about what we can do in order to support this. She clearly addressed the responsibility we have as organisations (ourselves and others) that are working collaboratively around Community Development. She described the need for organisations to respond differently than we have in the past: “We have to be willing to change,” she said. “When voices come back and tell us what they need…we have to be willing to be more open, and to ask how we can change to meet those needs.”

The launch was an inspiring and positive blend of celebration, collaborative discussion, and truthful conversations about the challenges that will be faced on the path ahead. It is clear that the Traveller CDP is having an impact, and has been incredibly successful thus far since their inception. The CDP is one of seven pilot community development projects originally funded in 2021 – this has now grown to 10 projects – and the department is optimistic that these projects will be supported well into the future.  (See for more information.)

The Minister finished with words of praise and support for everything that has already been accomplished, and the ongoing impact of the CDP:

“I’d like to commend Clare Traveller CDP, who are in their second year of the programme, for their hard work and commitment to date…The evidence is here, you are making a real difference to the lives of the Travelling communities you have supported since the start of this programme.”

With plenty of sunshine to boot, it was a wonderful morning all around!

Spreading Good News: Chapter One

Spreading Good News: Chapter One

With so many challenges facing our communities, it’s nice to hear a bit of good news every once in a while!  Here at Clare Local Development Company, it’s our job to have a positive impact in vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.  Recently we’ve been thinking more and more that we should share some of the stories that highlight this positive impact. We think it’s important to let people know that things can, in fact, change for the better, and that there are people and organisations out there who are working really hard to make that happen. It’s not always glamorous (in fact, it usually isn’t,) and it’s almost always small steps that make the difference. But we are proud of what we do, and the ways that we work to empower our local communities.

One way that CLDC empowers and supports people is through capacity-building and employment.  This means that we help people to get the information they need, and often learn the skills needed, to get themselves a job. When someone can get themselves a job, their life changes in a big way.


We also work with local employers, agencies and training organisations, and connect them with job-seekers. This means that not only do job-seekers have opportunities, but the businesses in need of help can get the support, training, and new talent they are looking for as well. Through all of these efforts, we end up with more empowered and resourced individuals, more diverse and successful local businesses, and a stronger community network.

This is really important in rural places like West Clare, where people live quite far from each other, economic conditions can be challenging, and there aren’t many hubs for gathering, learning, working, or exchanging resources.  A lot of the suffering isn’t visible at all, and it continues generation after generation.  So if we can provide opportunities for empowerment, it can have a really positive impact. And as we know in Ireland, word travels fast. So let’s try to spread some good news, shall we?


Last Wednesday, March 1, Clare Local Development Company put on an event that was designed to bring the local community out, and do all that good stuff mentioned above. We called it the West Clare Jobs Fair. The Clare County Council was nice enough to provide us with a wonderful space to host it, at the DigiClare Digital Hub in Kilrush.

“The West Clare Jobs fair was a great success,” said Hilary Gleeson, one of the organisers and a wonderful staff member here at CLDC.  “We had nearly 200 attendees and 26 stands with employers, recruitment agencies, virtual stands and agencies such as ourselves (Clare Local Development Company,) Limerick Clare Education and Training Board, Department of Social protection, Employability Clare, Grow Remote and Clare County Council.


Local employers such as Saint Gobain Manufacturing, Kilrush Credit Union, Clare Fire & Rescue, FRS Network, Ireland Home Care, ESB Moneypoint and Trump International Hotel were among the stands, as well as Espresso Bar and Kilrush Aqua Park looking for employees.

Many brought their CVs along to give to employers and chat about the roles available in many types of businesses, from hospitality to engineering and healthcare, with many including training as part of the job.”

“It’s a brilliant event,” said Colette and Liam from the FRS Network. “It’s really great, the people coming through are great. And the Ukrainians have so much to offer us. It’s really good to be here.”


Although there was a strong Ukrainian turnout, along with refugees from other countries, a large percentage of the attendees were local Irish.  “It’s great meeting so many people; it’s really good to come down here,” reflected one employer. This was a common sentiment; Aine from the Kilrush Credit Union commented, “It’s great to be out meeting people. It’s brilliant, and it’s great to have this happening in West Clare. It’s important to showcase everyone that’s here, and also everything that’s available.”  The crew at Clare Fire and Rescue reported, “A great buzz, really good interactions. Lots of people coming and going, it’s brilliant.” The Espresso Bar crew added, “It was a really good event. From an organisational perspective, really well run, really effective. Really good turn out, really wonderful people coming through.”

Hilary added, “We were very fortunate to have Microsoft attend with Patrick Cusack who showed the vast array of jobs available with his company, and further than that he showed attendees how to set up a CV online with a LinkedIN profile, encouraging jobseekers to link with their networks to find work.”  Patrick said he was “very happy with the footfall” at the event. “The biggest challenge is about connecting people to a network,” he said. “So many [of the people in need of work] have so many incredible skill sets; but they are lacking the network to know who to talk to about what kind of job. I’m trying to help people learn how to put their skillset out there.”


We had Killian from Local Link helping people to understand the options for public transport to and from potential work locations. “It’s about people knowing that if they get a job, they’ll be able to get there,” he said.  We also had representatives from GrowRemote and CloudAssist sharing information about the logistics, benefits and possibilities of remote working. There were translators and interpreters on site to assist with language barriers. We did everything we could to make sure that people could get the information they needed, and to make opportunities accessible.

Sean MacNamara, a colleague at CLDC, commented, “Nearly 200 jobseekers attended; some will have left and will now go into employment, and more will have left with a sense of hope that employment is accessible. Many have been given a starting point on a roadmap to employment.”

Commenting on the overall impact and success of the event, Sean added, “Social Inclusion and community development is always about trying to connect people and develop positive relationships, and this Jobs Fair succeeded in doing just that.”


We want to thank everyone who showed up to take part, and to commend the courage it takes to put yourself out there!

All in all, it was a fantastic turnout, meeting a lot of community needs, and empowering local residents of West Clare to take the next steps towards employment, capacity-building, connection and empowerment.  It was a good day.

Stay tuned for more good news!