A design image showing what the proposed Killeigh Community Centre, on the site of the old Macra Hall, would look like.

New community centre project could start later this year

A local group in Killeigh is aiming to achieve its goal of opening a "fully-functioning community centre" on the site of the old Macra Hall inside the next two years.

Maria Bannon, chairperson of the Killeigh Community Centre Development Association, said the project is "shovel ready" once the necessary level of funding is in place, and it's hoped that construction could begin before the end of this year.

Maria said the initiative was being developed in two phases "to ensure we can get a fully-functioning community centre open" within a two-year period.

"We see this as a realistic goal, and feel that if the project were to drag on for longer we would lose people's confidence in us being able to deliver what we promised," she stated.

"Once phase one is completed, and the centre is open, we will then reflect again on what the community needs, what is economically viable and what is happening in the wider community."

Earlier this year, it was estimated that the final cost of the project would be between €800,000 and €850,000. Some €200,000 in LEADER funding has been secured to date.

A number of local fundraising initiatives have taken place, with more currently being planned, including a "large-scale fundraiser" which the local committee is hoping to launch in June.

Outlining the project's journey to date, Maria said that people in Killeigh were "more determined than ever" to establish their own community centre, which would be "a focal point for village life" and would serve the community's needs.

"When we first came together, in October 2018, we had some vague notion of maybe 'doing up' the old Macra Hall, which lay derelict at the entrance to the village for some time," she said.

"After a few meetings, a new committee was established with a brief to provide a community centre to meet the needs of the whole community, both young and old, and to provide a place to hold meetings, to socialise, and to cater for local events."

A feasibility study then identified the site of the derelict hall as the best option for development, while it was decided that the centre should have a flexible internal structure to help enhance both the economic and social life of the area.

"Our vision is to see the community centre come alive to serve Killeigh and beyond for many years to come," she said.

"Post Covid-19, we predicted there would be a move back towards community and local engagement. This is supported by the recent announcement by Government that they will be making available State-funded relocation grants and tax incentives for remote working to attract people back to rural towns and villages.

"When our project is completed, we will have a vibrant community focal point with meeting rooms, workspaces, and a large hall which can be used for multiple different purposes. This will ensure that the community centre is fully functioning at all times and will be economically viable."

She explained that during the last three years a limited company was set up for the development, and obtained charitable status, while all of the legal, ownership, statutory and planning requirements for the project had been put in place.

"The design is finalised, the drawing and specifications are completed and the project is 'shovel ready' once the funding is secured. On this front, in 2020, we were delighted to be approved for LEADER funding," added Maria.

She said that, as with many other organisations, all of the local group's planned fundraising streams were impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, but during 2020 it came up with some new and innovative ways of raising funds.

"Local photographer, Paula Nolan, made a beautiful video of the village and used social media to promote support for our Patron's Scheme. She also came up with the concept of taking doorstep portraits for individuals and families as they adhered to the social distancing and lockdown restrictions.

"A 'Go Fund Me' page was set up and we promoted a virtual '2k a day for KCCDA' encouraging people to donate to the page and do 2km each day.

"In addition, we raffled a signed Liverpool jersey and in December, in a bid to spread some festive cheer, we organised a Patrons draw and a drive-by Santa experience which was a great success with our younger residents.

"We have spent the first quarter of 2021 planning a large-scale fundraiser which we hope to launch in June 2021. This fundraiser will run for six months and, depending on its success, will allow us to get started with the building phase of the community centre in the last quarter of 2021, so exciting times ahead!

"As a committee, we are all passionate about bringing life back to the community, now more than ever. With your help and support, we can and we will," she concluded.

More details on the development of the proposed Killeigh Community Centre are available at: www.killeighcommunitycentre.com

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