Happy birthday Billy’s Tearooms! How Kilkenny village fought back against rural decline
By SINÉAD CONNOLLY
THE community of Ballyhale is celebrating the success of its popular tearooms and shop after a busy first year in business.
Billy’s Tearooms and Shop has given the community a new lease of life and celebrated its first birthday this week.
“On Thursday we offered free tea and coffee to all our guests and on Friday we had had a free raffle for all,” Noreen Murphy, chairperson of Billy’s Tearooms and Shop committee told KilkennyNow.ie.
Volunteers and staff from the locality dedicated their time and skills to building up the business over the last year and its now the hub of the community where everyone gathers to chat.
“It’s made a huge difference to the community. It’s the focal point where everyone comes and meets up. After mass every morning there’s always a few people over. We have locals coming in here who don’t drive and they are in twice a day, every day. It’s become a place that people come in and they meet their friends and their neighbours, and they might meet people from other parts of Kilkenny,” Noreen said.
Over the last year, groups of cyclists and walkers from all over Kilkenny have called in or booked a table for their group. Communities from Kilkenny and further afield have also dropped in for advice how they can do the same for their community. The older generation or people who don’t drive, now have a place to meet people without depending on lifts.
“That’s the greatest gift that it has given. We know at about 9:30am or 10am, three or four people will be in because they don’t drive and this is their focal point for the day. They’ll have their breakfast, a good chat and maybe stay for an hour or two. They’ll come back in the afternoon, have their lunch or maybe a slice of cake and tea. It has given them a lease of life that they never had before,” Noreen explains.
A full-time staff of three, one Tús worker, eight part-time students and 53 volunteers all pull together to make the venture a success.
“We wish to thank all our volunteers who have toiled so hard to make our dream a reality. Thanks to Marian, Helena, Eileen and Lisa who have ran Billy’s through our roller coaster year, our students Vivienne, Maeve, Dearbhla, Courtney, Aisling O, Aisling L, Emma, Sarah who have supported the girls to ensure that our customers enjoyed their visit and time with us. Thanks to all our customers who have arrived and enjoyed their time with us,” Noreen added.
For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/BillKielys/
PHOTOS: Courtesy Billy’s Tearooms and Shop