The National Enterprise Town Awards: Newmarket

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

Newmarket is a town in the Barony of Duhallow, County Cork, with a population of 976 people. The town has an ageing population, with 23pc of the population over the age of 65, which is much higher than the national average of 13.38pc.

The town has a significant historic interest in that John Philpot Curran, the famous lawyer and orator was born in the town and his daughter Sarah, the partner of Robert Emmet, is buried in the Protestant churchyard there. History and genealogy are strong drivers of tourism in the region and LEADER has funded a number of local genealogist training courses and the online mapping of Clonfert graveyard to promote visitors to come and trace their ancestors from the region.

The town has been through transient times with the loss of its local bank and sorting office. However, a resilient community along with local community groups and businesses have embraced the challenges presented and have focused on unique solutions to bring life into the town and serve the ageing population.

The present lay-out of Newmarket town has developed over the centuries and it is likely that there was, in earlier times, a small village along the Kerry Road to the west of the modern town. Newmarket was part of Clanawley, the territory of The McAuliffe Clan. The McAuliffe clan rally is held in Newmarket every four years and is a great festive occasion that attracts visitors from all parts of the world.

Newmarket has always served a large agricultural hinterland with fairs, markets and services. The stone building which fronts the spacious community centre, once housed a market place on the ground floor with a courthouse overhead. Though the cattle fairs and markets are no more, the famous horse fair is still held twice yearly in February and October, and is a colourful occasion attracting as many onlookers as horse dealers and the presence of many stalls give it an old-world flavour. The Newmarket Summer Festival commences on the last weekend in June and runs for 10 days.

The town is primarily a provider of services to a wider local community. In addition, there are many providers of specialist services of various kinds. It has two primary schools as well as excellent pre-school and afterschool facilities and St. Mary’s Church which was erected in 1834 and stands at the heart of the community.

The businesses in Newmarket are varied and offer vital rural jobs. The local co-operative creamery has become a major player in the production of cheese and its different varieties of cheddar cheese are gaining an ever-increasing reputation at home and abroad. When it is operating at full capacity it processes 1.3 million litres of milk and produces 130 tonnes of cheese per day.

The offices of Ayrton in Scarteen Business Park are home to almost 60 staff and from their rural base they provide health and safety consultancy and training to businesses from across the length and breadth of the country.

Duhallow’s Enterprise Working Group is facilitated by IRD Duhallow, and this group of local representatives meet bi-monthly to discuss issues faced by local businesses. This group acquired Skillnet funding in 2015 and through this, they run enterprise led training from the James O’Keeffe complex. This funding has allowed for the successful delivery of many local networking events, including a women in business network and the North Cork Childcare Network. They offer seminars and training supports to nearby businesses. Last year saw over 1500 people attend training courses in the building bringing a wide number of visitors into the town.

Written by Stephen Larkin

Published: 30 Septemeber, 2019