The town of Castleisland, situated close to Tralee and Killarney, has been designated by Kerry County Council as an area of strategic importance and potential development.
According to the latest figures, the city has about 2,500 inhabitants.
However, locals say the demand to live in the area is growing and the demand for housing is growing with it.
The Killarney Borough Plan from 2018 to 2024 stipulated that at least 30% of new housing should be delivered in the built-up area of Killarney and Castleisland on infill sites and/or brownfields.
Addressing theFine Gael local councilor Bobby O’Connell said: ‘Castleisland has now become a much more attractive place to live.
“First of all, accommodation is not as expensive and we have excellent facilities.
“It’s also a tight-knit community and it’s the city best placed to grow because Tralee and Killarney are almost at capacity, and we’re definitely in a really good position right now here and we need to take advantage of that.”
However, despite planning granted for the development of 70 homes earlier this year, there is still a shortage of new homes.
“Housing is a big issue in Castleisland, as it is in many towns of this size – housing just wasn’t there,” Mr O’Connell said.
“The town has become a bit of a satellite of Tralee. Subsequently, it became a poor relation in terms of jobs and industries coming to the city and this is something that needs to be rectified.
“Castleisland needs to grow and for that to happen we need homes and we need people living here.”
As well as increasing housing, Mr O’Connell highlighted the need for improved public transport in the town of Castleisland.
As in most other cities in Ireland, traffic has increased in recent months as more and more people return to offices full time, and with the weather forecast to deteriorate in the coming months, it is likely to become more problematic.
“The public transport system could definitely be improved,” Mr O’Connell said.
“We have a daily bus service and a very good transport system for the elderly — they travel by bus to the health center and back every day.
“But you can never have too much when it comes to public transport.
“We also have the airport nearby, the development of which will be very important for Castleisland and its surroundings.
“The airport is very active with daily domestic flights and flights to the UK.
“But if a need is identified for increased bus services or things like that, it would have to be looked at because we are a growing city and need the services to meet that.”
Mr O’Connell stressed the importance of companies like Walsh Color Print, which employs more than 100 people in the town, moving to Castleisland.
The Castleisland Chamber Alliance has highlighted the town’s potential to become a commercial center in the Kerry region.
The organization’s president, Michael John Kearney, addressed theon Castleisland’s vision of becoming a retail destination.
“We are right in the center of Kerry with easy access to Cork and Limerick,” he explained.
“There’s a huge population that uses the town as a shopping center – we’ve been described as the fashion capital of Kerry.”
Mr Kearney also pointed to a steady flow of tourism and business to the area, aided by a number of festivals and events hosted by Castleisland throughout the year.
Castleisland was recently praised in the .IE Digital Town Awards – The Community Digital Category, with Mr Kearney describing it as a “punch in the arm” for Castleisland’s growing reputation as a place to shop, visit , life, work and leisure.
“The award carries substantial reputational benefits and a financial reward of €2,000, which will be reinvested in promoting the city to further realize its potential,” he said.
“The town’s strategic location within the Kerry, West Limerick and North Cork region makes it an ideal place to locate light industry or service businesses serving the region, and beyond and an attractive place to live and travel short distances to work in the Castleisland area, other towns in the county or further afield.
“The town is well endowed with educational and sporting facilities, and many other services, both commercial and community, which one would normally expect in a much larger urban setting,” he added.
“As a shopping destination, Castleisland has few equals in the county and beyond.
“Retailers, customers, locals and visitors all confirm that the town and district of Castleisland is on the rise, attracting a monthly increase in footfall, and there is still more to come from this vibrant neighborhood of ours. in terms of additional offers for more customers and visitors. how time passes.”
While school places and the availability of GPs are becoming increasingly serious issues in towns and villages across Ireland, this is apparently not the case in Castleisland.
“The city is very well served by GPs,” said Mr O’Connell, former chair of the HSE’s regional health forum in the south.
“A general practitioner has recently retired and two others have come to replace him.
“It’s a husband and wife team and that’s great for the region,” he added.
“It was not an issue that arose and, even with a growing population in the surrounding area, it was not expressed as a concern.”
Meanwhile, Mr O’Connell said the town also had a sufficient number of schools, with availability of school places not an issue.
“We have a very large community college, which is a relatively new school, and we have Presentation High School and a boys’ high school.
“We also have an abundance of national schools in the city.
“In a way, they are competing for students because they are trying to keep their teachers and this competition should be a plus for us to attract young families,” he added.
Denis O’Donovan, headmaster of St Patrick’s Secondary School in Castleisland, agreed the town’s school population was being looked after.
“Castleisland is said to have several primary schools, including the National Boys’ School, Girls’ Presentation and Gaelscoil.
“In terms of post-primary, you also have three such schools in the city – St Patrick’s, Presentation and Community College.
Mr. O’Donovan also pointed to a number of schools in surrounding towns that ensure an abundance of places in the area.
While Castleisland’s population may not be huge at present, the local superintendent pointed to a large catchment area for schools in the town.
“There is a large catchment area as it goes to a number of villages on the Tralee, Killarney and Ballydesmond sides.” Regarding any future population growth, Mr O’Donovan said he was optimistic that any increase in the number of people in Castleisland could be comfortably managed by schools in the area.
“The thing about the growing population, the way it seems to me, is that it’s going to grow in the city,” he explained.
“The rural population is not going to increase enormously because of planning and all sorts of other things.
“So if people move into the area it will be in housing estates, we will say in the city or maybe a housing estate outside Tralee or wherever, but you can see it being built at a very young age in primary schools right now,” he added.
“You can see it building again, but I didn’t see the need for more places in schools because what’s there will cater for what’s coming.”