The National Enterprise Town Awards: Portumna

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

Portumna is a market town in the south-east of County Galway, on the border with and linked by a bridge to County Tipperary.

Portumna is a translation from the Irish language of ‘Port Omna’, meaning ‘port’ or ‘landing place of the oak tree trunk’. This ‘landing place’ is located on the north-western shore of Lough Derg near the present Portumna marina and is a short distance from where the River Shannon enters the largest of its three lakes on its journey to the Atlantic Ocean.

Portumna town owes its origin to the powerful Norman, de Burgo, family (later earls of Clanricarde) who crossed the River Shannon into Connaught in the early years of the 13th century. They conquered almost the entire province and established their headquarters at Loughrea or Ballyloughrea as it was then known.

Pride of place is inherent in the community and in the businesses of Portumna who continually support each other in the flow of economic currents to maintain Portumna as a gem of the midlands.

While its population of circa 1450 people may be considered small, Portumna bats way above its size in terms of what it has to offer economically and socially as an enterprising town.

The range of enterprise in Portumna is all encompassing, from agribusiness to retail, manufacturing to tourism, and healthcare to services.

Portumna is also a popular tourist destination as it boasts excellent natural and manmade visitor attractions. This has resulted in many businesses developing and trading successfully.

Local businesses have withstood huge challenges to footfall (namely demise of Shannon Oaks Hotel, apartments and lodges, and the surge in online shopping) by thinking outside the box. They have combined their efforts in various marketing promotions, supported and organised festivals over the years. The hard work of its active tidy towns group can be witnessed in the wonderful array of colourful hanging baskets and flower boxes that are dotted around the town.

The active partnership of the many groups in town including Portumna chamber of commerce, tidy towns, town hall committee, arts committee, clubs and societies etc. has created a synergy for Portumna that is enviable and evident in the town’s enterprising culture.

Sport is also a massive part of the local community. Hurling is easily the biggest sport in the area, and the town is home to the 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2014 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship winners, Portumna GAA. A number of Portumna players, including Joe Canning, are members of the Galway senior panel.

Written by Stephen Larkin

Photo: Trevor Dubber

Published: 10 October, 2019