Castlecomer: A noble mix of resilience, style and care

THIS WEEK Reporter photographer Donal Foley visited the former North Kilkenny mining town of Castlecomer, a wonderful bailiwick that is home to the most resilient and caring people of our country.

‘Comer and environs are special, very special, renowned for public spirit, respected for cherishing all of their people all of the time, the elderly, the very young and all in between.

When the name ‘Comer is mentioned, a host of activities connected with the town are mentioned, its wonderful coalmining history so brilliantly portrayed by local author Seamus Walsh, its world famous Wellie Race, its collection of sporting clubs, golf, GAA, soccer, cycling , basketball, athletics, the list goes on and on.

Then we have the annual pantomime, the ongoing local promotions to help some charity or good cause or other, all geared towards  easing the pain of less fortunate people, pick me ups perhaps,.

The latter is their way of reminding all and sundry, particularly the people of the town that, as they have done since the closure of the pits that the kicaks will always  battle together on a united front for the good of their parish and for all denominations.

The closure of the local pits dealt what could so easily have been a killer blow.

But against all the odds a proud people fought back and today there is optimism in the town as local businesses experience vibrancy, enjoy the support of the local community and in turn they do their bit through sponsorship for the young and young at heart of Castlecomer.

What was once The Avalon Inn will shortly be a state of the art hotel at the heart of the town.

That could be the catalyst for even greater progress in a town that boasts brilliant facilities, a fantastic golf course, terrific GAA and soccer facilities and a Discovery Park to rival the best that any other town in Ireland can boast of.

Then there is the Creamery House, so gently and tastefully renovated and restored,  a collection of warm, and welcoming local hostelries where you can relax and enjoy creamy porter or delight in a good music session, and, most importantly, the town is well served with top class eateries to suit all purses.

A famous chip van in the main street enjoys almost legendary status as the notion is that it has been there since Noah was a boy and is always spoken of as top class.

The people of the town and peripherals enjoy an amble, yes they walk fast at times too but when it comes to getting things done, for the community, for facilities like the local hospital, the care centre or for families or individuals in distress, then the skates are on.

There is great camaraderie amongst locals, whether they are born, bred and buttered in the area or whether they are Cork Rebels who fell in love with ‘Comer.

Photographer Donal didn’t signal his arrival in the town but yet he found brilliant local gems wearing their best summer garb.

Today we accompany readers on a photographic journey through a town that so many are so proud to call home, sweet home.