With unemployment on the rise Tullamore has to create new jobs and the town plans to hire an industrial officer to encourage investment.

Through the Industrial Development Association (IDA), the seven thousand inhabitants of the town hope to raise £10,000 to employ an industrial officer for three years with a brief to bring jobs to Tullamore. 

Tullamore on the banks of the Grand Canal, a small town in Offaly with a big ambition, to attract enough industry to make the town the envy of the midlands.

Looking to the progress of towns like Ennis, Dundalk and Mullingar, the people of Tullamore want to put the town on the industrial jobs map of Ireland. 

At a meeting of the Tullamore IDA, locals and businesses pledged £3,600 towards the £10,000 needed to employ an industrial officer. It is a huge financial risk for a small town that the officer may not attract any industrialists to the town. 

Offaly County Council has already agreed to appoint an industrial officer for the whole county but locals are still determined that Tullamore should have its own. 

President of the Tullamore IDA Mr Edmund Williams says that Tullamore is in a period of transition and the association is anxious to avoid any hardship for the people of the time. 

We're determined that Tullamore will not lose its position of being one of the more important industrial centres in the midlands.

Edmund Williams points to some of the industrial successes like Salts Ireland and Irish Mist as examples of what the town can offer investors.  With two malting houses in the Tullamore due to close creating many will now be left without work. Many of these workers are too old to find alternative employment in the town and face life on the dole. Existing industries in the town are at employment capacity and new industrial activity is needed. 

Tullamore is probably best known as the home of the whiskey 'Tullamore Dew'. However, the whiskey has not been distilled since 1964 and in its place has grown the production of Irish Mist, employing forty one workers.  

Another business success story is the joinery works in the town employing one hundred and fifty workers.  

Tullamore's biggest employer is the spinning industry located in a former prison employing six hundred and fifty people. However, due to automation, it is unlikely that the firm will increase its workforce. 

Vincent Wynter Secretary of the Trades Council highlights the problems caused by the closure of the malt houses and the need for job opportunities for school leavers. For these reasons, the Trades Council is fully supportive of the new appointment by the IDA. 

The location of Tullamore, somewhat off the beaten track, could be viewed as a disincentive for potential investors in the town. The Grand Canal is the only direct link with Dublin but is now only used by pleasure boats. 

The people of Tullamore want jobs for the maltings workers and their young people, and they also want to prevent people from leaving the town to find work elsewhere. This is the challenge facing any development officer appointed for the town.

This episode of 'Seven Days' was broadcast on 4 July 1969. The reporter is Rodney Rice.