AMBITIOUS proposals to redevelop the Macra Hall on the outskirts of Killeigh to create a new state of the art community centre are gaining momentum.
The halll was opened in 1965 by the local Macra na Feirme branch and was the focal point in the community for many years.
The hall cost £8,000 sterling and was mainly funded by an annual carnival, which ran in the last week of July, ending on the August bank holiday, which coincided with the famous Killeigh Sports, a mix of athletics and cycling events, attracting competitors from all over the Midlands and further afield.
The hall was a centre for national Macra competitions, due to its central location.
The National Queen of the Land Final was held in Killeigh for a number of years, before moving to its present location in the Bridge House, Tullamore.
While the local Macra branch closed, the hall continued to be used for community events, including bingo, auctions, senior citizens parties, badminton, dances, as well as meetings etc.
It is reported that many couples met in Killeigh Hall, leading to marriage. A “Midland Ballroom of Romance.”
Sadly the premises has become a run down in latter years, but when redeveloped, as a community centre, it can again become the centre and heart of the community.
A 15 person committee was established in 2018 and are now in their second year of working towards the development of a community centre for Killeigh. They recognise that the biggest asset that a community has is its people and losing them is the biggest strain to the area in terms of economic and social development.
To further enhance the community spirit amongst the people of Killeigh, they carried out a local needs assessment and discerned from the responses what the needs of its community were. It has been identified that a community centre is vital to establish a key focal point for many community events.
The committee commissioned a feasibility study in early 2018 which looked at possible solutions and locations for a community centre. This included considering both renovating and extending the existing Macra Hall or demolishing the hall and building new. The feasibility study concluded, given all considerations, that renovating and extending the existing Macra Hall on a phased basis was the best option.
The design has been developed to include demolishing the existing flat roofed section of the building and extending and renovating the existing hall to provide new toilets, meeting rooms, office, kitchen, store, boiler room and entrance lobby. The development will bring the existing structure up to meet the latest standards and regulations.
The committee wish to acknowledge the generous donation of additional land adjoining the site by Ken and Richard Matthews which allows the car parking to be relocated from in front of the building to the Tullamore side of the site. This opens up the front of site for possible future playground, farmer’s market, community recreational use etc. The committee hope to submit the planning application to Offaly County Council by the end of this September and acknowledge the work of the design team to date.
They have engaged with many organisations such as Offaly Local Development, Offaly County Council and former trustees.
When the committee first decided to take on the hall and surrounds, it was discovered that apart from the trustees, there was two other parties involved.
In discussions with the three registered parties, they have all agreed to sign over the various pieces of land to Killeigh Community Centre Development Association. While the legal process can take time, the committee are satisfied the transfers will be finalised in the near future.
Fundraising is always a big part of any project and the committee is working tirelessly to raise the much needed funds required.
In November 2018, the committee held a hugely successful fundraiser “Jigs and Reels”. Another achievement for this group of volunteers was to bring back the fun day in Killeigh, which has seen the Killeigh GAA grounds host the fun day out for all the family on the June bank holiday Monday. The committee would like to thank all the volunteers and the GAA for giving up their time to make it a safe and enjoyable event.
It would seem fitting to mention also the 12 ladies that completed the Mini Marathon in June for and Eabha Nunan and her 2nd class friends on their car boot jumble dale also held this year.
This year KCCDA have been selected as one of the 10 charities in the upcoming National Ploughing Championship in Ballintrane, Fenagh, Co Carlow on September 17th to 19th. The fundraiser will be to erect a shed on site and sell tickets for €5 which is a fantastic prize for the winner. Special thanks to C& G Environmentals, Edenderry for the supply of the shed and local steel erector Philip Gorman for the erecting of the shed on the site of the ploughing. Anyone travelling to the ploughing, it will be located at Block 4 Row no: 24 and Stand no: 546. Tickets also currently on sale now from any committee member or Gorman’s shop and draw takes place at the ploughing on the final day. Volunteers are also welcomed to sell tickets and can contact any committee member if they wish to get involved in any way.
The committee are currently putting plans in place for a Patrons Scheme whereby the local community will be asked to contribute a monthly sum of money for a four year period to raise the money needed to complete the project. This money is required in addition to the grant available.
The group will take every opportunity available to obtain grants where available and are working closely with Offaly Local Development and the Offaly County Council to do this. The Patrons Scheme will be launched by the end of September when members of the committee and volunteers will begin door to door calls.
Martina Gorman is PRO of the Killeigh Community Centre Development Committee.