The rural community of Tipperary is worried about the future of its convenience store

Members of the SCÉAL community group held a meeting with Tipperary TD Michael Lowry in Lorrha over the uncertain future of plans to expand the village’s only store.

Deputy Lowry was briefed on the ongoing challenges the voluntary organization faces in completing a vital extension project to St Ruadhán’s Hall which would provide permanent headquarters for the SCÉAL store in the village.

Established in 2016 in response to the closure of the last shop in the village, SCÉAL (Community Social Enterprise for the Advancement of Lorrha/Rathcabbin) has evolved over the past six years to run a community shop open 7 days a week in St Ruadhán’s Hall, and to promote the cultural and historical context of the parish.

In 2019, a grant of €149,000 was allocated to the project by the Department of Rural and Community Development.

However, the onset of the pandemic and skyrocketing construction costs delayed the project and the grant funding expired, despite the best efforts of the SCÉAL committee to retain it.

Deputy Lowry was briefed on the latest efforts to secure a £249,000 grant under the Department’s Towns and Villages Renewal Program, and the expansion project was selected as one of five to be submitted Tipperary County Council Examination.

If this request fails, it is likely that plans will have to be shelved and all local fundraising donations returned to donors.

MP Lowry assured members of the SCÉAL committee that he would continue to raise the issue of funding with Heather Humphreys, Minister of Rural and Community Development, in the coming weeks.

He remains cautiously optimistic that a solution can be found, and the committee thanks him for his efforts to bring this problem to light.

The president of SCÉAL, Patrick Cahalan, underlined the urgency of finding a financing solution.

“It was a significant disappointment earlier this year when our efforts to retain vital grant funding failed. SCÉAL has done a tremendous job since 2016 from our base at Lorrha Hall, but we urgently need financial help to establish a permanent home,” he said.

Mr Cahalan said that like many rural villages, Lorrha had seen a steady decline in services over the past decades and the establishment of a community store was a necessity to support people young and old, of our community.

“We would like to thank Michael Lowry TD and local councilor Michael O’Meara for meeting with the committee, and we hope that our efforts will not be undone in the weeks and months to come,” he said. .

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