Speech at the launch of the Fumbally Exchange Building

Speech at the launch of the Fumbally Exchange Building

Published: Tue 29th Apr, 2014 | 15:04

Speech by President Michael D. Higgins at the launch of the
Fumbally Exchange Building
Dame Lane
Tuesday, 22nd April 2014

Tá áthas orm a bheith anseo i Lána an Dám ar maidin chun Áras Malairte Fumbally (Fumbally Exchange Building) a oscailt. Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil le George Boyle agus le Ciarán Ferrie as ucht a gcuiridh a thugann seans dom dul chun cinn leanúnach an tionscnamh mórthaibhseach seo a fheiceáil. Ba mhaith liom chomh maith bhuíochas a ghabháil libh uile as ucht na fíorchaoin fáilte a d’fhearaig sibh romham.

[I am delighted to be here this morning for the opening of the Fumbally Exchange Building here in Dame Lane. I would like to thank George Boyle and Ciarán Ferrie for their very kind invitation to witness the continuing impressive development of this initiative. I also thank all of you for that generous welcome.]

A large number of you here today will have a knowledge drawn from first-hand experiences of how many businesses across the country have been badly affected by the crisis of recent years. Many of you are amongst those affected who have courageously fought back – often against very challenging odds.

In fact, time and again as President of Ireland, I have been inspired, moved and indeed astonished by the resilience based on sheer will of so many of our people to transcend anger, rightly felt frustration or despair, and muster an ability to draw on a shared strength as they move forward with determination to craft a new and better future.

It is such a will that lies at the foundation of the Fumbally Exchange, a unique business model with its four step vision of Urban regeneration, Community consolidation, Industry innovation and Creative collaboration.

In looking at your website in preparation for coming here today, I noted that you describe yourselves as a ‘family’ of entrepreneurs and creative professionals – and you are, indeed, a supportive unit of, and for, individuals which has continued to evolve and develop, held together by a common purpose and a deep sense of shared and intuitive understanding.

The concept of the Fumbally is rooted in an instinctive desire to cluster in a space of creativity, an instinct that creative people like yourselves will recognise and to which you wish to relate. It is also founded on a recognition of all that can be achieved when creativity and inventiveness are not viewed as solitary processes, but emerge and are delivered in a shared environment where ideas can emerge and be tested by the response of others. Indeed, at the very heart of the Fumbally is a great desire for a pooling of imagination, and a sense of collaboration and generosity that will always permeate any truly dynamic community. I recall the words and writing of Mike Cooley author of Architect or Bee and his work on various Boards, and his skills audits of those made redundant who designed new products and patents.

I read too the words of George Boyle when asked why she had set up the first Fumbally Exchange in the Liberties four years ago – following the closure of the architecture firm for which she worked. She spoke of the impact of losing her job, and of how it made her think of the many creative and resourceful people who, like her: “were experiencing the same lonely journey into an unknown future at their kitchen tables or desks in the spare room.”

George decided that this journey was one that, like so many other journeys in life, would be better, more productive, and more creative if it was a journey shared. Today many individuals have joined that shared journey in four locations around the country – spaces that have grown into creative clusters used to inspire, conceive, craft and realise an impressive range of inventive talent.

One of the remarkable elements of the Fumbally initiative is its wide embrace, and its reluctance to set clearly defined parameters around the projects which it deems will comply with its creative criteria. The Fumbally Exchange has, indeed, managed to strike an effective balance between creativity and business potential; accepting into its community those working in sectors which might not traditionally be considered to belong to the creative industries, but who have adopted unusual and innovative approaches to the way they do business.

The Fumbally Exchange is home to illustrators, photographers and architects; to project managers, IT Consultants and engineers. It is a place where the functional and the aesthetic can meet in a spirit of dynamism and mutual respect, joined together in a common vision of growth for all, and of learning and prospering together.

The community at the Fumbally Exchange understands the importance of building a bridge between business and creativity, and of how crossing that bridge can unlock a society’s full potential. It is a community of originators, thinkers and problem solvers; entrepreneurs and artists who recognise all that can be achieved when the worlds of arts and business come together in pursuit of a common goal.

I have always believed that identifying, giving recognition to, and encouraging the development of creativity in our society and ensuring opportunities for self expression, is basic to a fulfilling citizenship. It provides the groundwork for sustainable employment while enriching our social, cultural and economic development. Such an approach also makes a distinctive contribution to Ireland’s reputation as a country, establishing us as a people where innovation and creativity are strongly supported and interwoven into the very fabric of our society.

The Fumbally Exchange symbolises and exemplifies so much of that spirit and the vision and yearning which lies at its heart. The varied businesses here today inspire confidence in our nation’s ongoing economic renewal, and I would like to congratulate you all. A venue such as Fumbally, by providing an easily accessible platform for small businesses to get off the ground, facilitates the emergence of a dynamic community where creativity is endorsed and nurtured, and members are enabled to find their creative pathways, supported by each other’s gift and talent; as well as the more obvious function of being a space for work.

It is, indeed, no surprise to learn that George Boyle has received a prestigious Elevator Award from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland – an award which recognised and celebrated the significance and the importance of the space of citizenship which has been created at Fumbally Exchange. I would like to congratulate George for demonstrating, so successfully, the dynamic change that can be brought about by individuals who are prepared to think differently and in a manner that is emancipatory.

Finally I would also like to congratulate everyone involved with this new phase of the Fumbally Exchange initiative; an initiative which represents a microcosm of how Ireland can continue to prosper in an increasingly competitive and globalised world.

Gabhaim buíochas libh arís as ucht fáilte a fearadh romham anseo inniu agus gríosaím sibh chun leanacht ar aghaibh le bhur n-oibreacha cruthaitheacha agus nuálacha chun todhchaí níos fearr a chur ar bun, ní hamháid daoibh féin ach don pobal i gcoitinne, agus, muise, do na glúnta de mhuintir na hÉireann atá le teacht.

[I thank you again for welcoming me here today and I urge you all to continue your creative and innovative efforts to deliver a better future not just for yourselves, but for the broader community, and, indeed, for future generations of Irish citizens.]

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.