Cashelard, three miles outside Ballyshannon, is a fine example of what can be achieved by a rural community working in harmony with a clear view of its objectives. In the early 20th centuary this area was a thriving centre of rural activity, having just opened a farmer’s centre of rural activity, having just opened a farmer’s co-operative milk separating plant, and built a community hall. The area boasted five national schools, seven retail shops including a post office, a marching band, a Gaelic football team, a drama group, and all relevant social activities relevant to the area.The depopulation of 1940’s and 50’s saw the destruction of this social fabric as house after house closed, the birth rate dropped and the society crumbled. The closure of the border roads from the late 60’s on hastened the dismantling of the community. By 1980 all the schools had closed, the shops were closed and only the one licensed premises remained. The farmer’s co-op had ceased milk processing and had been converted to a farmers supply facility. The post office closed and Cashelard appeared to be consigned to a grim future.
In 1994 the first step was taken to reverse this trend when a meeting was held to ascertain if the now delapated hall could be restored. A committee was appointed and they set about establishing how the area might become vibrant again. Surveys were carried out to ascertain what the community wishes were, and a learning process was entered into which was to establish how funding could be sourced to meet those wishes. A plan was drawn up and the first requirement was the provision of a community resource centre.
The committee took part in the various schemes and programmes required by the funding agencies to ensure that any resource centre would be viable, and, after many of the committee had partaken of the various required courses, funding was granted, International Fund for Ireland, and the National Lottery under the Department of Sport and Tourism.
In 2002 all the hard work was rewarded when the contract was signed for the construction of a modern facility to include a main function hall, an additional conference facility with I.T. linkage, four en-suite bedrooms, a dining room with full commercial kitchen, office and Laundry room. The building was completed in March 2004 and is beautifully decorated. Business has been brisk since its opening with conferences, parties, wedding anniversaries, dances concerts, walking weekend’s language school’s and accommodation provided.
The local community have organized a woman’s Group who promote various activities from Health Talks to Basket Weaving. The youth of the area have organized a Foroige club to ensure the younger folk are accommodated.
The Resource Centre, known as the Breesy Centre, after the hill that dominated the skyline in the area, is a tribute to the collective support of the local community for the hard working committee who met every Tuesday morning at 7.30 a.m. for two years to complete the project.
The effect of the enterprise can be seen as you enter the area from the N.15 . Newly constructed houses abound, with some 50 plus planning permissions sought in the last three years. The school buses are now full again, and the area is humming to the sound of construction activity.
Cashelard and the Breesy Centre is an example to other community groupings and provides a welcome boost to the tourism and social infrastructure of South Donegal and Ballyshannon.