Stories of the South East – Paul Delaney



Paul Delaney


Coordinator of the Cornmarket Project, a service in County Wexford for those who want to reclaim their lives from drug and alcohol addiction and move away from anti-social behaviour.

RIVER: (What river am I most associated with; Nore, Barrow, Suir?)

Forgive me for cheating a bit here and not sticking to the brief of choosing from the Nore, Barrow or Suir. But Delaney is an Irish surname derived from the Gaelic Ó Dubhsláine, Dubh meaning black and Slaine for the River Slaine (Slaney). So the river Slaney it is for me then!


Try to learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.


Whenever I’m showing visitors around Wexford I always include a trip out to the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve. I’ve been visiting this gem of a place since I was a teenager and you don’t have to be a wild life enthusiast to appreciate the spectacular flat land scenery and fantastic variety of local and visiting birds. The “Slobs” as it is known, has a magic all of its own, especially in the winter months.


I’m originally from Dublin’s north inner city. My father worked on the docks all his life and there was a great community spirit amongst the people that dwelled alongside the industry and commerce that sprung up there over the years to service a developing Irish economy. Alas, with the advent of containerisation, the work dried up and whole communities fell into decline. However, for those of us travelling from Wexford that take the toll bridge over the Liffey on our way to Croke Park or Dublin Airport, hope springs eternal and we can see that new life is once more been breathed into this historical area of Dublin.


I have spent thirty years as an addiction counsellor working with people who need help to rebuild their lives after getting caught up in the grip of addiction. I see this work as a great privilege, to be able to accompany someone on a journey from darkness to light. And for the past twenty years I have worked in County Wexford with a great team of people in the Cornmarket Project. While not always the case, behind issues of addiction for so many, is often the story of neglect and social exclusion. As we proudly make our Three Sisters bid for European Capital of Culture 2020, I would dearly love to see our bid encompassing an emphasis on the promotion of the ideals of social capital. Properly applied and developed, the development of social capital can play a role of leverage in linking to public agencies, bridging across to other disadvantaged groups and bonding in terms of developing crucial community level supports and mutual care at local level. Social capital is one resource, among others, which can be used in support of community development and social inclusion. To quote from a National Economic and Social Forum Report (2003) “Perhaps the greatest contribution the Government can make to investment in social capital is through actions that encourage social inclusion, fairness, transparency and equality of opportunity. It is also evident that the development of social infrastructure from education, health and welfare to employment and training support are needed to provide crucial supports in an era when traditional forms of family and local neighbourhood social capital are weaker” I’m pretty sure these same sentiments hold through for us today in the South East, thirteen years later, as we prepare our bid for 2020.