New Visions for Crossmaglen

Post date: 15-Jun-2013 09:41:16

I was privileged to be facilitating a Tangible Ireland Leadership Seminar a couple weeks ago in the Cross Square Hotel in Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh. The first element of this Leadership Seminar was populated by inspiring presentations on the positive developments currently underway in Crossmaglen from Sports to Arts, Tourism to Youth. Next it was my responsibility to share some basic psychology around leading change:

  • The reality that we all have blind spots when looking at a given situation and we need to open our own perceptions by changing our belief about what is possible.

  • The need to create cognitive dissonance – a gap between what we currently experience and the vision we aspire to – in order to motivate change,

  • and the necessity of seeing the end goal very clearly in the present tense before we even begin.

To illustrate this psychology in action, let’s consider what experts have known to be impossible in the past:

  • In 1876 a Western Union memo made clear: “This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”

  • David Sarnoff who eventually convinced NBC to invest in the radio in 1920's was told: “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?”

  • And fifty years ago Thomas Watson, then chairman of IBM, said: “I think there's a world market for maybe five computers.”

It is therefore safe to assume that 50 years from now, normal and everyday realities will be made up of the things we now “believe” to be impossible.

In contrast, on May 25, 1961 before a joint session of Congress, then President John F Kennedy stated that the United States should set as a goal the "landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth" by the end of the decade. In setting this Vision, he mobilised the development of technologies that simply wouldn’t have existed without the clarity of that goal.

For the final element of the Tangible Leadership Seminar, the attendees were encouraged to set out their Vision for Crossmaglen in a creative exercise. Without consideration of the practical or resource issues, they were invited to imagine a point in time two years hence when everything they wanted to achieve for the area had happened successfully and to note down the key points they would be celebrating. The following composite Vision is what emerged.

The success story of Crossmaglen and South Armagh, Looking back from 2015:


  • Press full of positive praise of regeneration of Crossmaglen and South Armagh

  • Local Radio Station with a positive focus

  • Crossmaglen people voted the happiest people in Europe


  • Peace Accord signed by Israel/Palestine in Crossmaglen at the Agreement Monument

  • Community Healing Seminar

  • Agreed interpretation of the past, results in positive outcome for both communities


  • Tourism numbers rocket (Trip Advisor no. 1)

  • Centre for Mythological Ireland

  • Roche Castle Open to the Public

  • Highlight Heritage of Townlands

  • Helicopter Tours


  • Funding is in place for installation of “the Agreement” by Shane Cullen

  • Monument completed – the Agreement

  • The Wallpaper project by Martin Nangle has been completed

  • There is an incubation space for young and emerging artists

  • The annual cultural/artistic Festival

  • Hosting the Fleadh

  • Peann Celtic music festival


  • Olly’s open another café

  • Youth conference takes place


  • Ulster vs Munster – Cross Rangers

  • International Sevens Tournament now in its fourth year

  • Crossmaglen Rangers G.A.C. visit Manhattan as thank you for receipt of $1.5m

  • Leisure centre with multiple sports, gym, pool, sauna, spa

  • Expansion in breadth of sports

  • Crossmaglen Rangers win the recently launched World GAA Club Championship for 2nd year in Succession

  • Form of recognition for clubs’ achievements


  • Link road to M1 becomes a reality for Crossmaglen & South Armagh

  • Huge number of visitors from Europe and America getting off the train in Crossmaglen railway station

  • Regional Airport

  • New Secondary School

  • Junction 17A complete

  • Regular Bus to Castleblaney & Dundalk


  • One Hi Tech business (50 jobs)

  • The Square Wireless/WiFi

  • Unemployment figures reach record low in Crossmaglen and South Armagh

  • G8 Summit venue is decided for Crossmaglen

  • Fiona retires to Bahamas after handing ownership of hotel to successful ex-patriate entrepreneur

With the energy and enthusiasm evident in even this small gathering, it is clear that great things are possible for the area and the only barriers on what is actually being celebrated in 2015 will be those we impose through our own thinking.

I look forward to being invited back to Crossmaglen with the Tangible Ireland team to watch the vision become reality over the coming years.