Martin McElligott, Dundalk Town Centre Commerical Manager
Martin McElligott is the Town Centre Commerical Manager with BIDS (Business Incentive District Scheme) and a born and bred Dundalk man
What’s your favourite thing about Dundalk?
Our location. We are in a perfect position. It’s a great place to live and do business in with the scenery all around us from the Cooley mountains and the seaside just on our doorstep. Dundalk truly is my home, I am grounded here. The town and all its charming corners make me fill with pride whenever anyone asks me where I am from. I feel privileged to be doing the job that I do, Dundalk’s full potential has yet to be reached but for me that’s a good thing, it’s that “opportunity” to showcase our hospitable nature and deep rooted culture to people that want to receive it.
What would your perfect day in the local area be — and why?
I’m a foodie at heart, so a perfect day always revolves around my stomach. The town really has a unique food culture, each street offers something completely different. But what I am really enjoying at the moment is the variety of cool food being dished up. To name a few, the breakfast buttermilk pancakes with poached eggs in “The Spotted Dog” are a must for anyone that likes pancakes and the “Nata’s” from 23 Seats are dangerously delicious. We are spoilt for choice with all of our cool coffee houses and at long last nearly all were possible have embraced the street scene, I guess you could say we have become the continent beside the continent. That’s why I love it, wide streets with bums on seats.
What would you like to change about Dundalk?
Dundalk is such a big town and while this is by in large a good thing, It does come with its disadvantages. We have developed the town away from the Castletown river, this in my view is a mistake and we should look to ways on how to reconnect with it. Our beautiful and historical train station lies on the outskirts and I always wished we could go back in time to when they were developing the lines to warn them of the mistake they were making, but I’m no Marty Mc Fly.
What annoys you about the town?
Nothing annoys me but my pet hate is how we don’t really grasp or appreciate all we truly have to offer and I think the second we realise that, Dundalk will become a far more economically secure space for everyone that chooses to live here. In my view we are the jewel of the north east and once we start to express that in how we live the rest will follow.
What plans do you have for the rest of year?
Busy last quarter I hope, I am working on a comprehensive public Wi-Fi system that will span over much of the town centre, we are also excited about planning new Christmas lighting for the Saint Nicholas quarter in conjunction with the new Clanbrassil street redevelopment plan that Louth County Council have successfully brought to fruition. In general we are always planning forward and thankfully Dundalk has voted “YES” to keep this momentum and I am excited about all the things we will work on together.
How would you describe Dundalk people?
We truly are a very creative, passionate friendly and welcoming bunch, however we have a very clear line. We wear our hearts on our sleeve and somehow find our way through everything that gets thrown at us.
What new business are you most excited about in Dundalk and why?
I would have to say “The Imperial Hotel”, it’s one of those corners that has been with me all my life and having a town centre hotel is so important. Tourism is playing a big role in the future of towns all over Ireland, Dundalk is now beginning to catch up but we still have much more to do. The Lynch family have done an amazing job so far and I could not be more excited for them. I wish them every success now as it nears completion and our office looks forward to helping it in every way we possibly can.
What local Town Centre Improvements would you like for Dundalk?
We have recently carried out a study in relation to the amount of tourist coaches passing Dundalk on the M1, the figures are dramatic, with almost every coach choosing stop at the motorway services outside the town. Dundalk is losing out by not competing for some of this business. I feel that we need to provide both the amenities and packages to attract the coach tours that pass us every hour of every day. I also feel that “The Demesne” is one of the most beautiful Town Centre areas we have next to Market Square, but it falls short due to traffic safety issues for young families, because it is not fully enclosed, so I would love to see this area get the attention it really deserves, like Saint Helena’s and Ice House Hill.
How do you feel about the future of retail in Dundalk?
This is the most talked about topic with everyone I meet and not just in Dundalk! I really feel that bricks and mortar stores are needed, local retailers really can compete for their piece of this digital era. While turning our “Bricks into Clicks” is very important, that does not mean a complete trade off. People still need each other, It’s very evident at the moment that people are shopping with their stomach’s, the bi-product of that action is retail. Dundalk is working hard on its overall experience to help attract more and more people in and we can do it.