19th March

Tills ring as local currency is deemed a success

West side looking towards Iniscaorach & Magher. Photo Shirley Gallagher

West side looking towards Iniscaorach & Magher Photo Shirley Gallagher

As the summer season comes to a close on the island of Arranmore, native Dr Shirley Gallagher reflects on a busy summer on the island. She returned from Cork in July to setup the island gift shop/cafe on the ferry pier, selling mementos and coffee, sprinkled with banter, song and craic

“The conversations generally begin with 'when did you land?, interspersed with “where are you from” and “do you live here all year round,” she tells Inshore Ireland.

She explains the pull of home was very strong, that she needed to try to capture the essence of Arran “and to be with people you love; the craic, the openness and the oneness with people and place.” “The island is like the tide; there is an ebb and flow to the rock and its people. It is ever changing and yet remains the same.

We come and we go and we return again and again- transient yet consistent.” She believes the people are a paradox. “Journeys are being recorded at the café with stories from Barbados, Bangladesh, New Guinea, & Chicago. Lands closer to home will feature also, and the stories will form the basis of a new radio show on Internet radio station Irish radio international in the coming weeks. (www.irishradiointernational.com).

The island’s own currency is an example of new ideas for the community. Businesses are using Ogham Bonds (See Inshore Ireland June/July) “and yet many find the concept challenging. Children have taken to the idea like ducks to water. In fact they are rather patriotic in their use of Arran money yet recognising it's only useful on the island,” she adds.

The Ogham Bonds are also a hit with the tourists who use them as souvenirs of the island, and continue in use until September 28. The project will be presented at a conference in the autumn in association with the Irish League of Credit Unions.

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