Situated between the two industrial polarities of Galway city and Limerick, the town of Ennis is sometimes overlooked in considering the industrial matrix of the mid-western region. Yet Ennis is an admirable setting for industrial development and, indeed, since the State’s industrial awakening of the 1960’s the town and its environs have been chosen as a location for some important manufacturing facilities.
It might be supposed that, with Shannon Airport and its potent development ancillary and huge complex of industrial spaces so close at hand, that few outside investors would chose Ennis rather the place where the planes stop. In fact, the proximity of the airport has had a spin-off effect that radiates right up to Ennis, which is close enough to catch those flights but is a much nicer place to live at the end of the working day.
Not only is the town the administrative headquarters for Co Clare, its position on the Fergus just north of Clarecastle, which is like a satellite town, makes it strategically important. There’s a saying among local businessmen that "all roads lead to Ennis" and, certainly, the most important one in the area - the main Limerick to Galway road - skirts the fringes of the town, making it part of an excellent road network. The airport is only 13 miles away, while Limerick is 23 and Galway 42.
The town is splendidly serviced with transport facilities, deliveries being made throughout the State and to export markets by means of haulage, courier and public transport services. The airport provides scheduled flights to the USA and to the major British and Continental cities. The advent of the Information Age, and the extra-special position that Ennis is about to take in it, will further enhance and extend an already first class telecommunications system.
Ennis has been expanding rapidly for several years and is currently maintaining a growth rate of about 12 per cent, much better than most towns of its size. A number of national and multi-national businesses operating in the town have achieved much success due, in no small measure, to the fact that they have available to them a young, skilled, well-educated and flexible work force.
These highly prized employees have, for the most part, come out of universities and technical colleges in nearby Limerick and Galway. At present, Ennis has an impressive list of business corporations operating in and around the town.
The biggest employer in the area is Roche Ireland Ltd, which has a workforce of 216 at its plant in Clarecastle, though currently that is being thinned by redundancies. The Cegelec ASSL company, which manufactures motors and advanced production systems, has a staff of 120. There are also 120 employed by Chemfab Europe, 100 in Vitalograph, 120 in Studio Eyewear Ltd, and 120 in Organic Lenses.
Recently, businessmen in the town - led by accountant Noel Connellan - carried out a successful campaign to have an advance factory built in Ennis. The expertise gained from working in this campaign was put to good use when the town’s Information Age task force set about winning the Telecom Eireann competition.
But Ennis has much more to offer than just industrial work space. It is rich in all the things that bring pleasure and zest to life when work is done. Both employers and employees find it easy, and so far not too costly, to acquire high quality homes for themselves and their families.
And once they have settled in, there is much to enliven their lifestyle. There are two golf courses in Ennis, and other courses at Lahinch, Dromoland and Shannon. The town also has two modern leisure centres with hotel complexes, a number of health clubs, swimming pools, sports clubs and tennis courts, and all along the western coast are some of the most magnificent beaches on this island.
Ennis is also surrounded by striking and dramatic scenery, being within easy reach of the vast limestone landscape of the Burren, one of the most unique places on earth. There is no shortage of help and encouragement for industrialists or businessmen moving into the town. Ennis Chamber of Commerce is on hand to work in close partnership with any new company to help it integrate easily into the community and ensure success. Advice is given freely in identifying suitable sites for a facility and sourcing local technological aids.
Members of the chamber - indeed, everyone in the own - go out of their way to welcome and show their appreciation for any new enterprise setting up locally. There is an ethos of support for starting industries and an eagerness to show that their contribution to the economic and social life of Ennis is greatly valued.