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Reopening of pub serves as further marker of successful rural regeneration of a Laois village

Mary's Bar Clough

A Laois village is undergoing a serious regeneration at present with a series of exciting projects happening.

Clough, located in South-West Laois, is experiencing a real renewal at present – beginning with the reopening of a pub.

Mary’s Bar is the only pub in the village and has been trading for around 125 years.

It has been in the Hyland family for many generations, and takes its name from Mary Hyland, the former landlady.

It was redeveloped into its current guise by Sean and Marian in 1998, who served the community for over 25 years until their recent closure.

Clough-Ballacolla hurler Damien Bergin and members of his family have now taken on the pub and it will be reopening under new management on Saturday, March 11.

Now refurbished, it will continue to provide the community with an outlet for socialising and celebrating for years to come.

The official opening is at 7pm with live music from 9pm from the brilliant Abbeyfolk who are from Abbeyleix. There will be door prizes and promotions on the night.

Plans are also at an advanced stage for a new community centre, with fundraising by the Clough Community Vision Committee.

The centerpiece of the fundraising drive for this is the raffle for a brand new €100k John Deere.

A lot of time has been invested into the project over the past few months with those involved selling tickets both online and at various events across the country.

The culmination of all of this will be the live raffle on St Patrick’s Day, Friday March 17, in Mary’s Bar Clough where the winner will drive away with a brand new tractor.

Meanwhile, the development of a new GAA grounds for Clough-Ballacolla, located in Clough, is well underway.

Pitches are in place, walkways and car parking have been laid while landscaping works are ongoing.

This project is being delivered by a mix of community fundraising and sports capital grant.

Clough-Ballacolla have enjoyed unprecedented success on the field over the last few years – winning the last three senior club championships.

This new development will help secure the futures of both the GAA and Camogie clubs, which have been growing steadily over the last few years and it is hoped it will be open by this summer.

The Clough Tidy Towns Committee have also been reinvigorated over recent years and have made steady progress in the competition.

In addition to ongoing upkeep and visual amenity improvements, they have a wider goal of developing a new community playground in the village which will serve the growing population of young families returning to the area.

Speaking about all of the work happening in the village at present, Fine Gael Councillor Conor Bergin praised all of those who are involved.

He said: “Clough is a thriving village and there is a real buzz in the area recently with a number of projects going on in the area, such as the new GAA facilities and ongoing efforts by the community to raise funds for a new community centre.

“Credit is due to the local community in Clough for driving these projects, and I think that the reopening of the pub is a sign of confidence and positive investment by a new rural business in the area.

“Laois County Council are keen to support the ongoing developments in Clough and as a local Councillor in the area, I think there will be more opportunities over the next few years to support projects in the village such as through the Rural Regeneration Development Fund, LEADER programme and Town & Village programme.

“Clough is definitely on the map and I know the local community will certainly do everything to maximise the potential of the area and I look forward to working with them.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.