Our staff take the stage at national Grow Remote summit!

Our staff take the stage at national Grow Remote summit!

Last week, CLDC was very proud to support two of our community development workers – Michelle Nolan and Sean MacNamara – as they contributed to the national conversation around the future of work – and what that means for communities – at the Grow Remote Summit in Portlaoise. Michelle and Sean both work as part of the SICAP (Social Inclusion and Community Activation Program) team at CLDC.

The Grow Remote Summit was a national event that aimed to “bring together the remote working community, leaders in government, business innovators, and employers, to explore the future of work.”

Michelle was part of a panel discussion about collaboration and partnerships, where she spoke about responding to community needs, cohesion and the benefits of partnerships. She spoke about her experience within CLDC of partnering and working with other organisations, working effectively together while focusing on a higher purpose. She spoke about the impact that happens for the community as a result of collaborative partnerships.


“I’d like to say thank you to Grow Remote for inviting me to speak at the Summit on connecting rural communities to remote work,” said Michelle, who has been involved with organising several local job fairs in Clare. “The Clare Job Fairs have [been] increasing jobseekers’ awareness and accessibility to remote work. We are delighted to be involved in this work with Grow Remote, amongst other strong partners in the county, and are currently planning our third Jobs Fair in Ennis this coming October.”

Sean facilitated a meitheal workshop at the summit, around Bringing Hope to Local Communities.

“It was an amazing event and had so many great speakers,” Sean said. “It was great to be allowed to facilitate a workshop on ‘Bringing hope to Local Communities’. It really got people talking. Bringing hope to communities is what CLDC does through every program we run, so it was a perfect topic to talk about.” He added, “For CLDC and the SICAP team it was a great opportunity to show case the work we have done, and highlight the SICAP program on a national level.”

We are really proud of our staff for being so committed and involved with the local communities, and for being invited to share their knowledge and experience on a national level. We are glad to be a part of the conversation about the evolution of work for our communities!

To hear more about Grow Remote and the work that is taking place, you can have a listen to co-founder Tracy Keogh speaking on CLareFM. Grow Remote is trying to “make remote work for everyone.” Tracy has said, “It is vital that conversations are had with employers about the reality of remote work.” She says there are 100,000 remote jobs open in Clare today.

Have a listen here.

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 https://cdpirl.ie/ 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!

SICAP Video Case Study 2022

SICAP Video Case Study 2022 Working Collaboratively with New Communities in North Clare highlights the positive working relationships between local community, voluntary and statutory organisations to support New Communities in Co. Clare.

SICAP wins prestigious UN award

SICAP wins prestigious UN award

SICAP has won a 2022 UN Public Service Award for “Institutional resilience and innovative responses to the COVID-19 pandemic”. This prestigious award is a welcome recognition for the significant community support provided by SICAP during the pandemic, in Clare and across the country.

Welcoming the award, Doirin Graham, CEO, CLDC said ‘ For CLDC it is an important endorsement of our work and in particular of the dedication, capability and integrity of the SICAP team.  It is a great credit to their work and their frontline SICAP colleagues around the country.  Many congratulations to all the SICAP staff’ 

Read the Department of Rural & Community Development press release here