Formerly a Mercy Convent the above building in Tulla now operates as a cultural centre known as Cnoc na Gaoithe (Windswept Hill) run by the renowned Comhaltas organisation. The centre opened its doors in 2012 and has thrived ever since, teaching traditional Irish music, song, dance and Irish language, along with classes teaching computer skills, French language, yoga and meditation. Top class musicians, singers and dancers have emerged from the centre since its opening with many All-Ireland titles to their name. Cnoc na Gaoithe has taken performing groups to Europe, America and China. The centre has also hosted groups from Washington D.C., Shetland Islands and Norway.
In order to build on the success of the existing centre and continue to attract national and international groups, students and visitors Clare County Council have expanded the services of Cnoc na Gaoithe by offering accommodation. The proposed expansion sought to turn the first floor of the building into facilities capable of hosting up to 30 visitors. This project came to fruition using the €100,000 in funding provided by the Town and Village Renewal Scheme. The images above show before and after pictures of the community room which was just one of the rooms renovated for the accommodation section. Additionally there were also bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms and a hallway renovated. The project was completed in June 2018 and opened its doors to the public on the 1st of July 2018. The first visitors were a group of exchange students from the South of France. Since then the centre has continued to thrive as they hosted a group of young musicians from East London for the week of the Feakle Festival, and are also expected to welcome groups through Wild West Irish Tours from April to October of 2019.
This expansion of Cnoc na Gaoithe is also set to generate prosperity for the wider community of Tulla and Clare. The availability of accommodation allows the centre to offer week long workshops and also packages which combine these workshops with afternoon tours to the attractions of County Clare. Literary and wellness retreats can also now be facilitated in the centre. Due to the increase in visitors that these activities will attract Cnoc na Gaoithe will also become a tourist information point with stands containing information about tourist attractions all over Clare and also flyers from businesses like local restaurants, pubs and shops. It is also expected that additional employment opportunities will be created due to the influx of visitors to the area. Furthermore this refurbishment signals the completion of the restoration of a listed building in the village which is of significant historical, heritage and conservation importance.
Over €21 million in funding was allocated to 281 projects in rural towns and villages under the 2017 scheme as part of an Action Plan to develop rural Ireland. This year the Town and Village Renewal Scheme has an indicative allocation of €15 million and it is anticipated that up to 200 rural towns and villages throughout Ireland will benefit from this funding.
Community Room (before renovation) Community Room (after renovation)