The National Enterprise Town Awards: Monaghan Town

We are profiling all the towns to enter this year’s National Enterprise Town Awards. Today we are looking at Monaghan Town.

Monaghan is the county town of County Monaghan and has more than 8,000 residents and over 300 businesses. The town is situated on the N2 road from Dublin to Derry and Letterkenny.

Monaghan was the domain of the Gaelic MacMahons and other clans until the conquest of Ireland during the reign of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs and the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell. Most of the land of Ireland including Monaghan was taken from the native Irish and given to Protestant planters.

From the late 17th century until the late 19th century, Catholics in Monaghan were discriminated against religiously, politically and economically. The Penal Laws implemented soon after the Williamite victory did not begin to be repealed until the late 18th century.

In 1829 Catholic Emancipation was achieved and Catholics in Monaghan were no longer excluded from the political process. However, in the 1840s the Great Irish Potato Famine ravaged the entire of county with thousands dying from hunger and disease while thousands more emigrated to America and elsewhere.

Nowadays, Monaghan Town is home to a large number of indigenous businesses that, due to the support of the local community and workforce, have grown to become global brands with Combilift, Monaghan Mushrooms, Entekra, Century Homes and Silverhill Duck to name a few.

Located in the border region, the town had been heavily impacted by the reduction in timber manufacturing and associated jobs, but with the entrepreneurial drive and passion of the local business community, it meant that these losses where only short-lived.

Arts and culture play a massive role in the history of the area. Monaghan continues to host one of Ireland’s most prestigious and established blues festivals, the Harvest Time Blues Festival. It is hosted every September across the town. Founded in 1974, Monaghan County Museum is recognised as one of the leading provincial museums in Ireland, with a prestigious Council of Europe Award conferred in 1980, among others, to its credit.

There is a campaign to boost tourism by reopening the Ulster Canal in a scheme which would eventually allow boats to travel from towns in Northern Ireland, such as Newry, by way of Monaghan to places as far south as Limerick, as well as Dublin.

The council have invested in supporting community initiatives including the development of Monaghan Town Team who were established in January 2016. This voluntary team was developed to promote Monaghan as a retail and food destination, and over the past two and a half years have delivered 40 projects between developing websites, retail investment prospectus, promotional videos, food networks and developed a local town voucher that has sold €1.7million in just over two years.

Key to this success and uplift over recent years is due to the collaborative and supportive approach between the local authority and the business community. In 2018 Monaghan Town won the regional medium sized town category and have continued to work together to bring new and innovative projects to the fore.

Written by Stephen Larkin

Published: 18 September, 2019