Alice in Wonderland as her new LEADER Funded Equine Facility opens. Another Tourism Boost by DLDC for Donegal

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The official opening of “Tir na mBeannacht Stables” outside Ballybofey took place on Friday 2nd May 2014 when Donegal Local Development Company (DLDC) Chairman Jim Slevin and MEP Pat The Cope Gallagher performed the official opening. Promoter and owner Alice Shiels who developed the project, had worked in the Equine Industry all her life and had always wanted to open her own premises to deliver a service that only she could. The total investment was in excess of €200K, with DLDC through the Leader Programme contributed funding of €99,485 towards the Project. Speaking at the opening, Frank Kelly, Leader staff member with DLDC welcomed all present. He stated that projects of this scale requires considerable contribution and input from several people and organisations in order to get to this day and we are very pleased that many of those are present for the official opening of this fine project. Jim Slevin, Chairman of DLDC who administers the LEADER Programme said: “This has been a fantastic project which has great potential for employment, both directly and indirectly, within the Tourism Industry. The LEADER funding provided supported an Entrepreneur in developing a sustainable rural business which you can see is an excellent example of a Leader type initiative. The Board of DLDC are always delighted to be able to assist entrepreneurs like Alice and we were very happy to be able to provide funding to enable the project get to this stage. He also commended the promoter and acknowledged her vision and commitment to the project, which has taken us here today to officially open this marvellous Project.” MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher, Congratulated Alice on her achievement and said “Alice had a dream to set up her own Business in the Equestrian Industry and through her commitment and determination she set about realising that dream. First she needed the Land, then she would require Planning Permission and finally she would require Funding to make her dreams a reality. Alice set about her Plans in so far as she could with the help of her Architect Barry McCullagh and thankfully through Leader Funding developed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development she was able to apply to Donegal Local Development Company for Leader Funds and having been awarded Grant Aid was able to complete her Project and realise her own Dream” Councillor Martin Harley also congratulated Alice on the delivery of the project, he said “It was evident that the Project had been well thought out and the excellent design and construction of the Arena and Stables also contributed indirectly to Local Employment. As a Board Member of DLDC, Martin said “We are always looking to invest the Leader Funding wisely and where possible to assist in the creation of enterprise and employment. This Project ticks all these boxes”. He wished Alice every Success in her future at the Stables. Councillor Patrick McGowan who spoke on behalf of Alice Shiels paid tribute to the Staff and Board of Donegal Local Development Company for their assistance in the delivery of this Project, he said that Alice had told him, that without their assistance, she would never have been able to get this far. On behalf of Alice he thanked Barry Mc Cullagh (Architect) for the support and advice he had given her throughout the delivery of the Project and he thanked the Construction Firm “John O’Donnell Contracts Ltd” for the work that they had put into the Project, also paying his respects to the Late John O’Donnell, who sadly passed away mid-construction. Patrick on behalf of Alice thanked her family for their continued support in helping her realise her dreams and everyone who attended the Launch to Support her today. He said “ Alice is a hardworking individual who tends to stay away from the limelight and get on with the job in hand and he was delighted to speak on her behalf and wished her every success for her future. He added: “Without the financial assistance of the Donegal Local Development Company Ltd and the administration assistance and support of staff members Frank Kelly and Martina Whoriskey, none of this would have been possible and Alice is truly thankful for their involvement and commitment”.

The official cutting of the ribbon was performed by MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher and Jim Slevin and was attended by a large crowd including Alice’s father and mother as well as family members and many other members from the equine sector. Light refreshments were provided afterwards.