Should Ennis become Ireland’s newest city? It’s a suggestion that’s very much dividing locals.
With a growing population of over 25,000 in Ennis, some local councillors have started pushing for the Co Clare town to be given city status.
They believe it’s something that would attract new jobs, businesses and state organisations to the area, giving it a much-needed boost.
While the proposal is still new, its proponents may have their work cut out for them in convincing locals - one survey by the Clare Echo suggested over 60% of respondents would be opposed to the move.
The Pat Kenny Show’s Siofra Mulqueen spoke to some of the locals, and found both strong support and fierce opposition to the idea.
Could Ennis become Ireland’s next city?
With a growing population of over 25,000, Clare councillors are calling for city status.
Will it bring more industry to the area?
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— Síofra Mulqueen (@SiofraMulqueen) March 11, 2021
Fianna Fáil councillor Pat Daly is spearheading the campaign in recent weeks, after local TD Cathal Crowe first raised the idea.
Councillor Daly said he's been looking into what happened in Kilkenny after it was granted city status.
He observed: “In Kilkenny, they have a semi-state - Revenue are in there. They have a brewery in Smithwicks.
"A lot of money was pumped into tourism, particularly Kilkenny Castle.”
He said Ennis is a great location - close to Shannon Airport, as well as to both Galway and Limerick cities.
While there are industrial estates and business parks in and around Ennis, Councillor Daly said there haven’t been many new jobs in recent decades - but he believes they would be in line for a boost if it did become a city.
Young people may also welcome the prospect of a dedicated third-level institution in the town, with Councillor Dally saying he’d ‘love to see’ a full institute of technology set up.
'The bigger you are, the bigger the problems'
Michael Guilfoyle, a former mayor of Ennis, is firmly opposed to the prospect of the City of Ennis.
He said: “I totally wouldn’t support city status. We don’t have the population, but apart from that if you were fortunate to get city status everything price-wise would go through the roof.
“Then with that you also have the difficulty: the bigger you are, the bigger the problems.
“I love the town of Ennis… I want no-one to destroy my town. I have grandchildren: I’d rather leave them something they’d be as proud of as I am.”
He added that he’d be “well and truly dead and gone” before Ennis would get city status, but he simply doesn’t think it’s something the town should be pursuing.
Among locals, the reaction is equally mixed.
One man observed: “The good thing about it would be that it would bring more life into the town - at the moment there’s more life in a dog’s back than what’s in Ennis.
“First and foremost, it’s going to bring people, and that’s what’s needed in any town.”
Others think the town is simply too small to become a city.
One woman told Siofra: “When you think of a city, you think of large buildings, factories, large parks… we don’t have that here in Ennis.
“We have the population alright, but we don’t have the facilities to back it up.”
Another woman said there’s already a lot to do in Ennis, and many young people would be more willing to stay if city status brought a college to the area.
For now, Ennis remains a town - but the debate over its future is far from over.