Lorraine O'Shea: "I chose Colinton over the internet while living in San Francisco"

I picked our home in Colinton over the internet from where I was living in San Francisco in 2000,” says Lorraine O’Shea. “My now-husband, who was living in Edinburgh, came out to see it. Neither of us had been to Colinton before but it looked nice from what I could see online. I moved here after we had bought the house.”

Wow, online shopping in the year 2000 for a house. It seems to have worked because here is Lorraine 18 years later, still here. She is Chair of Colinton Village Events, is on the community council and on the board of the newly set up Colinton Village Ventures. Which is why I am here having coffee on a Saturday morning with her in Java Moment.

Lorraine got involved with Art in the Park in around 2006 a couple of years after it was set up by some arty locals who wanted an event to bring the community together regularly. Colinton Village Events (CVE) was constituted in 2011 to run it, and it has grown into the full village fair that it is today, with entertainment, alpacas and a lot more! It generates funds for community projects such as Christmas on the Corner, and funded the planters on the main street with its monies, grant funds and a local contribution from the Colinton Amenity Association.


So what is Colinton Village Ventures? I’m feeling slightly bewildered by the number of local organisations. “All the groups have broadly the same aim, which is the betterment of where we live,” says Lorraine. “Colinton Village Ventures came about because when the bank went, and the convenience and flower shops closed, the village was looking sad. My friend Pam Wardell organised a public meeting in Colinton Inn to see if there was an appetite and ideas for regenerating the village. It was well-received, and Colinton Village Ventures was constituted to take on the challenge of finding a premises and setting some new initiatives in train.” They looked at several premises but they were all too big and expensive. “The Shed” however, in Spylaw Park, which CVE currently use for storage, could be perfect.


“We’re through the first phase of purchasing it from Edinburgh City Council, and now have to submit a detailed business plan. A lot of people come past the village through the Dell, but don’t stop off here, or aren’t aware of what facilities there are. The Colinton Community Conservation Trust’s work on the RL Stevenson trail has attracted people, which is great and we’d like to build on that.” The idea for “The Shed” is for it to be renovated and extended to become a multi-purpose visitor centre and community hub. “It would have perhaps an exhibition room and a small party or meeting room for hire. With a basic cafe it could also be a stopping off point for people using the Water of Leith walkway, to encourage them to come into the village and see more of what Colinton has to offer, which in turn will generate custom for local businesses.”


As ever, volunteers are needed to make the project a reality, “especially a professional fund raiser,” says Lorraine, “that’s our biggest challenge.” Tea in the Park on 5th May is an opportunity to learn about the plans and get involved. For more information, contact colintonvillage@gmail.com.


Coming to Colinton from County Kerry via New York and San Francisco, Lorraine loves it here and can be seen regularly in the Dell or hills with her family and golden cocker spaniel. “We have a ten year old son, this is a fantastic place for him to grow up.”


Helen-Jane interviewed Lorraine O’Shea in Java Moment (great coffee by the way!) for this article. Helen-Jane is the editor of Konect magazines.