By Paul Walsh
In August 2012, AIB announced the closure of its branch in Dunboyne Village. The bank stated that the closure was the result of a review of its retail operations and a subsequent cost reduction programme.
The village of Dunboyne endured further blows in 2013 when Ever Elegant Ladies Clothes and Shoe Boutique, the Fran & Jane Fashion Outlet and Carpaccio restaurant also closed.
Most recently, the Daybreak store on the Maynooth Road side of the village has pulled up its shutters for the final time, leaving another vacant retail unit in Dunboyne village.
Despite this most recent closure and the failure to fill units vacated in Dunboyne in 2012 and this year, Fine Gael Cllr Maria Murphy is positive that the retail landscape of Dunboyne village is not in terminal decline.
“A couple of people have called me over the last couple of months with ideas and business plans which they want to do in the village.
"What I have done is put them in touch with the Meath Enterprise Board because they will give you a start-up grant for equipment and they do training. The Meath Enterprise Board will put people on the right track and give them every assistance. So, there are people looking at units in Dunboyne and they have things in mind, so we are just waiting for a couple of them to come through.”
Paul Lernahan owner of Paul’s Fine Foods Fruit and Veg shop in Dunboyne village is also positive about the prospect for local business while also acknowledging the effect of shop closures.
“Personally speaking, I can’t complain. The local people of Dunboyne are very good to me, so I have a good trade coming in. The bank next door and Ever Elegant, the shops that are close to me had an affect on me because there are not as many people walking down the street.
"We had an AIB beside us, a very busy AIB but they closed it down all the same. That definitely affected me but we just had to get on with it because the bank is not going to open back up again. Every shop closure affects the business because there are less people coming into the town.”
Cllr Murphy conceded that local retailers do face stiff competition due to the catchment area of Dunboyne.
“The fact that we have Blanchardstown to deal with and we have Maynooth so close by is an issue. People are looking for value for money but I think there is a balance with that because at the end of the day when we had the really bad weather a couple of years ago, we needed the local shops. I support the local shops anytime I can.”
Despite the concerns expressed by Cllr Murphy about competition for local retailers, she is supportive of the recent granting of planning permission for a new neighbourhood centre with an anchor retail convenience store at the Rooske Road entrance to the Dunboyne Castle estate.
The application was previously refused due to the size of the anchor unit, but this has been scaled back so as not to contravene the provisions of the Retail Planning Guidelines 2012. Information locally has indicated that the anchor tenant will be Musgraves, who own the Super Value, Superquinn and Centra retail brands.
Whoever the anchor tenant turns out to be, it is a positive development for the village retail environment as far as Cllr Murphy is concerned.
“That is just indicative of a good business decision. We don’t have a large supermarket in Dunboyne, which is a problem. We suffer 77% retail leakage towards Blanchardstown and Maynooth. The fact that people won’t have to go to Maynooth to do their weekly shop will be an asset to the village,” said Cllr Murphy.
Local shop owner Paul Lernahan, disagrees with Cllr Murphy’s positive assessment of this development and sounds a warning note.
“There is not enough business for what’s there already, so why open more shops? What are they going to put in there that they haven’t got in the town already?”
The Meath County Enterprise Board can be contacted at 046-9078400.