The owners of the proposed distillery at Sliabh Liag have announced with much sadness that they have been forced by circumstances to relocate.

James and Moira Doherty had planned to build their distillery just outside Carrick. After some initial planning objections, An Bord Pleanála gave the green light in early 2017. But since then, a dispute over land between other parties stalled and frustrated the project.

And on Monday night, the news that the community had been dreading was finally delivered. An alternative site had been found and bought in Ardara.

The announcement was made at a meeting of the Carrick Development Committee in Carrick which was attended by many members of the public.

Cllr Niamh Kennedy (Ind) told the Donegal Post: “People were out in force. The place was packed. They are all very hurt and upset. They know who is responsible and they are angry about it.

“40 jobs in Carrick would have been huge, and would have been great for Kilcar and Glencolmcille as well. It would have been a great boost for tourism too.”

James Doherty read a statement at the meeting. He spoke about the obstacles which were thrown in his way, frustrating his efforts to get moving with the distillery. Many present were angered to hear that while Mr Doherty got backing from Kilcar and Ardara Parish Councils, he did not have the support of Carrick Development Committee.

This has without doubt left members of the community with a lot of hard questions for at least some of the committee members who were supposed to be backing such projects and working on improving the area. One person who was at the meeting said it was as if the blinkers had come off and everyone suddenly saw what was really happening in their village.

“I don’t think there is any way back from that,” said the man who did not wish to be named.

He said there were calls for several committee members to step down.

"People are never going to forget this," he said. "It is devastating for Carrick and what hurts the most is that it came from inside our community.”

Mr Doherty in his statement to the meeting also spoke of his own connections to the area, and of how much it meant to him.

“It was dignified, heartfelt and emotional,” said Cllr Kennedy. “There were people in tears.”

While local people are devastated that the distillery is not being built in Carrick, there is some sense of relief that at least it is staying in south west Donegal. Alternative sites were previously being considered around Donegal as well as outside the county.

“Carrick’s loss is Ardara’s gain,” said Cllr Kennedy. “I wish James and Moira all the very best for the future. They have done so much already for the area. I think most people would wish them well.”

Reaction

Indeed, local people taking to social media have echoed the sentiments expressed by Cllr Kennedy.

There is certainly a lot of anger, hurt and disappointment. But there are no hard feelings towards James and Moira Doherty, only a wave of support and gratitude for all they have already done for the area with world-renowned Dúlamán Maritime Gin distilled in Carrick and the multi-award winning Sliabh Liag Silkie Whiskey.

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