Snowflakes fell in the sunshine at the Church of Ireland in Kilkishen last Monday morning and indication perhaps that, despite the harsh conditions, a bright future lies ahead for the rejuvenation of the East Clare village.
Deputy Pat Breen officially turned the sod kick starting the construction phase of the Kilkishen Church of Ireland restoration project on Monday morning where a large crowd gathered to mark this momentous occasion.
The site was also blessed by local parish priest Fr Donal Dwyer and chairperson of the restoration committee Mike Hogan welcomed those present.
He said after much talk and umpteen fundraising events the committee was finally at the important stage to progress the project to the construction phase.
“This project has been talked about for so long but we have finally, with the help of a lot of people, made it happen. We are at the stage where we are convinced that this is the place for our cultural centre, which will be a community centre for everybody, not alone for our older people but for our younger people as well.
“It is a great occasion for us today and it will lead to the development of the village itself. As you know the towns and villages have been depleted in that businesses have closed and people have deserted the villages. Once we have this building finished, this beautiful 200 year old building, we can start a revival of our village as well,” he said.
He highlighted that the completion of the cultural centre will not only provide a focus for the community and for tourists, but it will work in tandem with other projects which are also going on in the background.
“There is a lot happening, not alone our cultural centre, Patsy Neville and his group are working on the looped walks and we’ll develop those into the lakes and rivers. The Kilkishen area is unique, we have lakes and rivers, and we have our famous bogs, which will become more famous in the times to come and we have the beautiful hills. You only realise how beautiful your area is when you start something like this and you appreciate your culture, and all that has gone before. We’ve got over a lot of obstacles up to now and I’m sure we will get over any others up until the time we open,” he said.
Ahead of turning the sod, Deputy Pat Breen said the committee had done marvellous work fundraising bringing the redevelopment project off the ground.
“It shows the great community spirit that is here. For the week that’s in it, a week where we celebrate our culture and heritage and here we are celebrating our culture and heritage. Also this is the year of the gathering, and this site is also going to be a gathering place for the community and will be a focal point for the future development of Kilkishen.
“Without the community spirit and without the local committee and Mike Hogan this project would not be where it is today, the restoration and the preservation of this building is extremely important. It’s a fantastic community building and it will be a focal point not along for the local people but for tourists as well. It’s going to be a huge asset and bonus for the Kilkishen area,” he said.
The gathering heard that it will take 12 months to complete the works, and that Taaffe Ltd, a construction company based in Newport, secured the tender for the works.
The committee have also undertaken to maintain the graveyard on the site and already work has started on clearing the overgrowth.