With the good weather this summer and a seeming proliferance of new opening and building work, the Dundalk Democrat asks is Blackrock experiencing a mini-boom?
As you make your way towards the village along Sandymount from the Dundalk end, you will pass the Square. To your right you will see the old Violet Pub. The premises was sold recently and now plans have been submitted by Ronan and Denise Wogan to carry out works on the premises. .
Entering the village you will no doubt spot the new-look Black Leisure.
It’s opened its doors early this summer and floor to ceiling refurbishment. Behind the seaside favourites in the front foyer you will find a fully decked out casino. Further back a brand new Bingo hall and adjoining carpark.
Leaving behind Blackrock Leisure you don’t have to walk far to find another point of interest.
In between Blackrock Medical Centre and McQuillans Pharmacy construction work is underway.
Gerard and Lisa Gogarty are building a photography studio on the ground floor with an office and apartment above.
A quick amble southward down the promenade and you will come across the new Mace convenience store. Previously a Londis occupied the site but the site lay bare for years since it closed, until earlier this summer when the work began on the new store. It opened its doors two weeks ago.
A new beauty salon, Rock, Paper, Scissors” also opened up earlier in the year on the site of the old dry cleaners, while Aqua Café have recently invested in new wooden tables and moved the deli counter
The south of the promenade is also faring well with the Blackwok and Short Cuts barber all doing good business.
A new restaurant is also being planned by Gerry Rogers next door to the barbershop.
The summer weather has been kind to Blackrock, with a mini heatwave seeing tourists from new and far patronising local businesses.
All a coincidence or is Blackrock starting to see the first ‘green shoots’ of recovery?
Traditionally a prosperous village, it makes sense that it would be the first to see rebound from the recession.
“I think most of this boom is coming from the work done by the Tidy Towns,” says Pat Rafferty, Supervisor of the CE Scheme and local man. “There has definitely been a big upswing. Big time.
“If you look at the amount of tourists that have visited the town over the summer. The place has been packed to the rafters.
“The amount of new planning there is going on and the new businesses like Mace, as well as existing ones like the Centra. It’s really kicking off
“We also launched a new Blackrock brochure which has gone down really well with local businesses, with tourists making use of them during the summer.”
Larry Magnier, Vice President of Blackrock Tidy Town’s concurs and say the improvement in the tidiness of the town is reflected in the increase in trade.
“We’ve been a critical part of it. I think the village as a whole has been pulling together towards making the village as attractive as possible, and we are seeing an increase in people visiting as a result.
“Towns who have a strong Tidy Towns programme start to the see the benefit. We’ve seen that in Blackrock, where people will be inclined to stop for a coffee or a drink or whatever takes their fancy in the village.
“It’s been a conscious effort to raise the appearance of the village and it’s working.”
The increase in jobs may has also played its part.
“There has been a progressive recovery in Blackrock’s economy,” says Blackrock resident Steven Egan.
“Local professionals working fo r the likes of Paypal and National Pen and other Dundalk businesses have been a part of it. Many of them choose to live in Blackock.
“I think when people move to North Louth Blackrock is top of the list of places to move to.
“That’s been reflected in house prices too, which are on the up,” concludes Stephen. “It’s just a really attractive place to live.”