Flower power

Bloom­ing great idea trans­forms va­cant shops in Youghal.

Irish Examiner - County - - Front page - Christy Parker

AYoughal florist’s cre­ativ­ity has been al­lowed to blos­som to breathe a new lease of life into some of the town’s va­cant and derelict re­tail premises.

Kay Curtin, pro­pri­etor of Kay’s Flower Shop, used a va­ri­ety of ma­te­ri­als, em­bel­lis­ments and lash­ings of imag­i­na­tion to con­struct themed win­dow dis­plays in empty prop­er­ties.

As­sisted by daugh­ters Or­laith (24) and Ali­son (15), Kay used sewing ma­te­ri­als, beach items, wine bot­tles, news­pa­pers, old pho­tos and even sam­ples of Youghal lace to trans­form win­dows.

The move was a col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­ject be­tween the Youghal Fo­rum con­sor­tium group, of whom Kay is a mem­ber and Youghal Tidy Towns.

Cork County Coun­cil pro­vided €800 to help cover ex­penses un­der the gov­ern­ment’s Cre­ative Ire­land scheme and also pro­vided paint to the Tidy Towns com­mit­tee which painted the premises’ ex­te­ri­ors.

Kay trans­formed the va­cant win­dows of a newly-re­painted for­mer off-li­cence to reflect Youghal’s beach cul­ture.

A de­crepit for­mer taxi base is now ad­mired for its use of replica pho­tos of lo­cal scenes from the early 1900s, which are com­pli­mented by boxes wrapped in news­pa­per and colour­ful bunting.

An ex-bar­ber shop has be­come a show­case for Youghal lace, a closed pub is now a pur­ple-themed dis­play plat­form and a for­mer pot­tery out­let serves to ad­ver­tise the lo­cal Comhal­tas group.

The florist says the pub­lic re­ac­tion to the pro­ject has been “ex­tremely sup­port­ive”, with “a lot of peo­ple ask­ing whether we will be un­der­tak- ing more premises”. While fur­ther shops may be tar­geted in 2018, it is un­der­stood that some prop­erty own­ers are dif­fi­cult to trace while oth­ers are re­luc­tant to pro­vide ac­cess to their prop­er­ties.

In some cases, the build­ings may re­quire struc­tural re­fur­bish­ment within.

While Kay ac­knowl­edges that the pro­ject is cos­metic rather than com­mer­cial, she­feels “tak­ing the derelict look off prop­er­ties at least shows the town in a pos­i­tive light”.

A re­cent sur­vey found Youghal has the county’s high­est level of va­cant com­mer­cial build­ings.

Youghal Fo­rum spokesman Micheál de Buitléir says en­hanc­ing va­cant premises presents an op­por­tu­nity for tem­po­rary ‘pop-up’ shops that can bring so­cial and cul­tural ben­e­fits to a town, such as the ‘ram­bling house’ Comhal­tas mu­si­cal ini­tia­tive planned for the for­mer pot­tery shop.

Pic­tures: De­nis Mini­hane

Kay Curtin of Kay’s Flow­ers, 136, North Main St Youghal, with her daugh­ters Ali­son and Or­laith, who helped her to dress the win­dows of five empty premises in Youghal, pic­tured in front of one of the premises’ win­dows where they have dis­played pho­to­graphs on the his­tory of Youghal lace.

The iconic clock tower in the town of Youghal, where lo­cal busi­ness­woman Kay Curtin came up with idea to dress the win­dows of five empty premises in the town.

A colour­ful flo­ral win­dow dis­play in va­cant Youghal busi­ness de­signed by Kay Curtin of Kay’s Flow­ers.

Kay Curtin of Kay’s Flow­ers, shows one of the win­dows she dressed with old pic­tures of the town in a va­cant premises in Youghal.

A sea­side theme in the win­dow of one of the va­cant premises in Youghal trans­formed by Kay Curtin of Kay’s Flow­ers in the town.

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