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In October 2018, Clonakilty, through the partnership with AsIAm and SuperValu alongside local retailers Eugene and Catriona Scally of Scally’s SuperValu, became Ireland’s first ever Autism Friendly Town. 

Their journey to becoming Autism-Friendly saw businesses, organisations and community groups throughout Clonakilty undergo training and organisational changes to receive accreditation. This initiative and accreditation was a first for anywhere in Ireland and the last year has been an incredible success for the whole Clonakilty community. The aim of this SuperValu and AsIAm initiative is to create a greater awareness, understanding and acceptance of autism so that our communities become more accessible and enjoyable places for autistic people to live in. 

Clonakilty’s journey to becoming Autism Friendly began in 2015 when Scally’s SuperValu became the first retailer in Ireland to implement changes in-store ensuring members of the Autism Community could enjoy a better shopping experience. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by I Love Clonakilty (@i_love_clonakilty) on

Since then the entire community has supported the initiative and Eugene Scally of Scally’s SuperValu, Clonakilty said “We are only one year into this initiative and already the awareness of autism in Clonakilty has increased so much and the positive impact on the community is clear. The feedback we have received not just in our store but across all organisations and businesses throughout the community from both locals and visitors has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“The work the committee has done during this journey has created a conversation around autism in the town and made Clonakilty a better place for autistic people and their families to live, work and visit. Not only are locals telling us about how much more inclusive and accessible Clonakilty is but tourists with autism have shared how much they have enjoyed visiting a town that accommodates their needs.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by I Love Clonakilty (@i_love_clonakilty) on

 One of the most popular additions to Clonakilty during this journey has been the sensory garden. Located on the grounds of the West Cork Model Railway the sensory garden was developed to create an environment within the community that would enrich the lives of children and adults living with Autism by providing opportunities to play and explore in a safe and secure space all while enjoying a calming sensory experience. 

The garden features elements that appeal to all five senses using a range of materials and plants. Exploration in nature improves physical, sensory and emotional health and supports overall well-being and parents have commented that their children have found the garden captivating and engaging, asking to return again and again.

To celebrate the anniversary Alan Gardner star of the Channel 4 programme, The Autistic Gardener visited Clonakilty to see Ireland’s first Autism Friendly town and share how autism has made him one of the world’s leading landscape designers and how autistic people can focus on their strengths to find careers they enjoy. 

He said “I am delighted to be in Clonakilty to celebrate the first anniversary of the community becoming Autism Friendly. It is clear to see it’s an initiative the whole community got behind and a great example of how when understanding of autism increases the positive impact it can have for autistic people in all areas of their lives from shopping to employment.”

A key theme of the celebrations in Clonakilty is employment and autism. The community are turning their focus on how they can support the autism community find work experience and employment that works to their strengths.

SuperValu Marketing Director, Ray Kelly said, “Supporting Clonakilty on their journey to become Autism Friendly was a proud moment for SuperValu last year. It is our ambition at SuperValu to build more inclusive communities across Ireland and Clonakilty has proved a massive success. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by I Love Clonakilty (@i_love_clonakilty) on

“The work the Clonakilty community did to receive accreditation and in the year since is truly impressive and we look forward to continuing our support of Clonakilty and the other 11 towns that have just begun their journey to become accredited Autism Friendly Towns.”

SuperValu is committed to raising understanding and awareness of autism among its customers and staff. With over 50,000 families in Ireland living with autism, those affected face barriers to inclusion because of the attitudes of people who may not have first-hand experience of autism.

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The sunny weather has finally made an appearance and we can’t help but daydream about summer adventures. Spending the summer in New York sounds perfect, but unfortunately, our bank accounts are stopping that dream from coming true.

Luckily, there are plenty of places to visit around the Emerald Isle that are perfect if you’re in need of some time away from reality.

There's one place you must visit this summer and it’s the charming town of Clonakilty, Co.Cork. The West Cork town is one of the nicest parts of the county with the stunning Inchydoney Beach, snug pubs, plenty of dinky cafes and dozens of historical sites including Michael Collins House.

Once you arrive in the colourful and vibrant town you’ll never want to leave. The locals and their cheery disposition will make you feel like you’ve lived there your entire life.

There are plenty of hidden gems in Clonakilty that will make your trip all the more memorable.

1: Cafe On The Lane

This quirky spot is hidden down Spillers Lane, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets. The cafe is covered in bunting and fairy lights, with fresh flowers donning every table. The main seating area is full of mismatched, vintage furniture that adds to the character of the place. Treat yourself to a croissant or a brownie and a cup of coffee and listen to Elvis play on the cafe's record player.

Image result for cafe on the lane clonakilty

2: Cycle around Clon​​​

Clonakilty is the first rural community to offer a bike rental scheme. There’s no better way to see the glorious town than cycling around Clonakilty, especially when the sun is shining. The Clonakilty Bike Scheme even shares advice on how to cycle safely on West Cork roads. Cycle out to Long Strand, which is only 20 minutes away from the town. Take in the breathtaking scenes and breathe in that fresh sea air.

3: Pints in Scannells

This gastropub is the heart of the town, known as the small pub with the big garden, you just have to visit Scannells for a quick pint and a bite to eat. You’ll struggle to leave the pub with the infectious atmosphere and assortment of live music, from jazz to trad, Scannells has something for everyone.

4: A bookworm’s paradise

The Children’s Project charity shop may just look like every other charity shop, but once you go upstairs you’ll be greeted by mountains and mountains of books. The second floor of the shop is a bookworm's idea of heaven. They have shelves full of best-sellers, horror tales, young adult novels, well-loved classics, popular chick-lit books more. You’ll go in for a quick browse and end up leaving the shop hours later with bags full of books.

Clonakilty is the perfect place to visit if you need to escape to the country, especially when the sun is shining!

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Throughout the past month, the Star Wars cast and crew have been travelling around Ireland to shoot the eighth instalment of the film.

They have been to a fair few places, including Donegal, Kerry and then ended their trip in Crookhaven, West Cork.

It's a pretty big deal that one of the biggest movie franchises would choose Ireland to record the movie, but something that we never thought we'd see is a thank you note.

LucasFilm took out an ad in the Irish Examiner to thank the people in Cork, and by the looks of it they were pretty impressed by everyone in Crookhaven, Goleen and the Brow Head Peninsula:

They wrote: "We have been captivated by the landscape of the Wild Atlantic Way, it has provided a spectacular backdrop for our story.

"The tireless commitment of our Irish Crew, the enthusiasm and support of all the people of West Cork have made our Irish adventure one we will always treasure.

"Go mbeidh an fórsa leat!! – May the force be with you!!"

HOW LOVELY?! We're dying over here…

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We all heard the thunder this morning, but if you live in west Cork you would have been treated to one hell of a lightning show.

These images are pretty incredible and frightening at the same time:

This shot taken by Pierce Higgins was uploaded to the Best Photos of Baltimore Ireland Facebook page with the caption “Just speechless. The world is ending”….

This one by Youen Jacob is a little less frightening but no less impressive

12-year-old Daniel Hegarty was braver than us when he took this shot…

 

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Last night marked the end of this years MasterChef. Emma from SHEmazing! TV caught up with this year’s winner Diana Dodog earlier today. Check out the video for all the goss!

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