At a time when the rest of the country was stuck in recession, the Erris area of North Mayo experienced a boom because of the work created by the Corrib gas project.
From 2004–2014 an average of 1,250 people were employed on the various Corrib-related construction sites. Employment peaked at 1,500 in 2009, the worst year of the economic downturn.
All contractors and sub-contractors working on Corrib focussed hard on generating local content. As a result, half of those working on the project came from Erris itself or from other parts of Co. Mayo. Meanwhile, those workers who hailed from further afield provided a major boost to local businesses, especially those based in the town of Belmullet.
Veroica Reilly, a member of the committee of the local Rural Tourism Co-Op Iorras Domhnann, who runs a B&B in the town, is in no doubt about the importance of the business generated for accommodation providers by the project.
“Corrib has been great for the accommodation sector. This benefit was felt more keenly in the winter months. We would not normally have a strong winter business but because of the project, we’ve had a solid all year around accommodation business in recent years,” she says.
Investing in the Future
Tommy and Orla Talbot started their pub and restaurant business ten years ago with two full-time employees. They now have twenty-four people employed full time and have invested over €5m in their businesses over the past five years.
“The reality is that without the Corrib project we could not have invested in this area,” says Orla.
Enda Brogan and his wife Sandra have also developed a major leisure complex and restaurant in Belmullet. “Our business has benefitted both directly and indirectly from the project.
“We are a family-orientated business and a huge number of families in the area are connected in some way to Corrib. They have money in their pockets and they spend some of it with us. We started here in April 2009. We knew it would be a difficult journey but it has been made far easier because of the gas,” Enda added.