It is not often that Dundalk leads the country.
We were once the proudest town in Ireland. We had five shoe factories, two breweries, the largest railway engineering plant in the country, an automobile plant, and the second largest cigarette factory in Europe.
We had the largest population of any town in Ireland and we were the country’s largest industrial centre outside of Dublin, Cork and Belfast.
We were a proud people.
Now there is hope that some of that pride can be restored.
The Business Investment District Scheme Dundalk (BIDS) has been operating in the town for the last five years. It is financed by the ratepayers and the town council. Its job is to try and increase footfall in the town.
Many other towns, including our Drogheda neighbours, have been watching BIDS carefully. And many of them want to emulate it.
They want their own boroughs and councils to set up a similar enterprise, something that would breathe some life back into their towns as they struggle in this recession.
Next November, thanks to BIDS, the Ulster Dance Championships will bring 3,000 visitors when it is held in Dundalk. And the town will stage it the following year also.
This event is nearly as big as the All-Ireland Fleadh and it is a major coup. Last year, a very successful ice rink was set up for the Christmas holiday and the Festival of Lights will be held next month, November 29 and 30.
So BIDS is delivering the goods and also helping to restore some of the great pride we had in our town.