Sólás na Mara

In 2012 two local and well respected health practitioners set out in establishing a new business called Sólás na Mara in an existing unused building on the pier side in Helvick, An Rinn, the Gaeltacht area of Co. Waterford.

Solas Na Mara

   

In the early 1900’s seaweed baths were located all over coastal areas in Ireland, and these drew regular custom from both locals and tourists alike. Residing in the coastal area of An Rinn, the partners of Sólás na Mara, understood the scientific and medical benefits of seaweed bath treatments and saw an opportunity to marry this traditional and indigenous treatment with their own unique scientific knowledge, expertise and craft.

Sólás na Mara was founded and established by two local practitioners Caroline Gordon & Cian Ó Conchúir. Caroline a practitioner with twenty years of clinical experience brought a wealth of experience and a solid track record in the management of injury and illness. Cian's solid reputation in the area as an excellent health care practitioner most notably as the team Physio to the Waterford Senior Football Team since 2008 equally characterised the underlying success of this business

At the early start up stage access to finance proved difficult and at times the promoters felt somewhat disillusioned at the prospects of their project coming to fruition. However, following a local WLP Information Seminar the promoters became knowledgeable of LEADER funds and approached WLP in early 2012 with the possibility of applying for grant aid under the Rural Development Programme. Prior to applying for LEADER funds the promoters agreed to undertake a Start Up Business Course, while also employing the services of a business and marketing consultant to provide invaluable advice at the start up phase to assist with the drafting of a business and marketing plan.

In October 2012 the project was approved funding and part financed at a rate of 50% of eligible expenditure amounting to €78,671. As a requirement of grant aid Sólás na Mara was requested to establish a sustainable policy on the harvesting of seaweed in which the promoters proceeded in seeking expert assistance in doing so.

The task of obtaining a Foreshore Licence proved to be the final challenge for this project. This appeared problematic for the promoters at first due to time constraints however after relentless hard work and continued perseverance the promoters proved successful.

An Rinn is a location where many students travel throughout the year, and in particular in the summer to attend Irish college. There is also a tradition in the area of visitors who holiday regularly, and even possess holiday homes in the locality. Due to these factors, as well as its location Solas na Mara presented good tourism and economic opportunities.

Sólás na Mara provides a seaweed bathhouse accompanied by ancillary services including massage, physical therapy, acupuncture and aromatherapy. This facility also incorporates a rehabilitation gym and a refreshment cafe. It currently employs two full time and six part time staff. This facility has succeeded in establishing a niche service in a rural community, availing of seawater and seaweed as a readily available natural resource. Solas na Mara has provided added value to the current service offerings in An Rinn and County Waterford attracting visitors and creating employment in the area. Further information can be found at www.solasnamara.ie

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