Kilkishen is to benefit from a significant funding boost with the announcement this week that €386,193 has been approved for the development of a community and cultural centre.
The funding has been sanctioned under the Rural Development Programme for the development of centre at Kilkishen based at the former Church of Ireland church in the village.
Now that grant funding has been secured, the Kilkishen Development Association has confirmed that the project should go to the construction phase by May of this year and will take approximately 12 months to complete.
It is also estimated that 10 jobs will be created during construction and at least one person will be employed on a full-time basis at the centre when it opens.
Phil Hogan, Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, made the announcement on Monday morning after he authorised Clare Local Development Company to approve the funding to Kilkishen Development Limited for the development the proposed centre under the conservation and upgrading regulations.
Speaking about the announcement, Mike Hogan, chairman of the Kilkishen Development Association, said it was “great news” and it will mean they can now formalise the purchase of the building from the Church of Ireland.
“We’re almost ready to roll now. We have everything in place. We’ve our funding secured and we have to do some more fundraising but we have a fantastic fundraising committee here who have done great work and we have a lot of it in place now.
“We will be ready to sign the purchase agreement in the next week or two.
“Then it is a matter of allocating the project to a contractor. The tendering process is complete and we’ll be ready to announce the contractor in the next two weeks as well.
“I’d say we should be looking at a start date, probably around May,” Mr Hogan revealed.
The fundraising committee has raised approximately €100,000 to date under the stewardship of local man Patsy Neville.
Although another €50,000 to €60,000 is needed for the project, Mr Hogan said this is very achievable.
“It will be a cultural centre and all the community will have the benefit of it.
“We are setting up a training room and we will run training courses. We will have a place where people can meet and we’ll have a coffee dock,” he said.
The centre will also be the meeting and information point for a series of loop walks that have been developed by the association.
“A lot of work has been done on the walks to date. The committee has been very active and we have cleared some walks around the 12 o’clock Hills and we are also looking at developing walks along the local lakes. We hope it will be something for visitors and locals alike.
“It will be a beautiful building when it’s done,” he said.
A meeting is to take place in Donnellan’s Hall in Kilkishen on Friday, January 25 at 9pm for those who are interested in hill-walking and exploring heritage areas in the area with a view to developing these loop walks.
Minister Phil Hogan said, “This project will be of immense benefit to Kilkishen with its total project costs of €520,000.
“There will be two elements to the development, consisting of the conservation and refurbishment of the existing 19th century stone church, together with the construction of a new extension.
“I know it will improve the quality of life and will strengthen the social and economic fabric for all the area’s inhabitants.”
Clare TD and chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pat Breen, said, “This grant-aid of €386,193 is a tremendous boost to these volunteers who have invested a lot of hard work developing this project.
“The remainder of the funding will be secured through their voluntary work and that of the local community and they are to be commended for their efforts.
“During the restoration phase it will provide much-needed local construction jobs while there are plans also to create a number of local jobs when the centre is up and running.
“The Rural Development Programme is playing an important role in improving the quality of life in rural areas.
“It is now focused on developing micro-enterprises, rural services, rural recreation and rural tourism and by focusing on these areas it is hoped that the programme will lead to sustainable development, which in turn will improve the social and economic fabric of communities such as Kilkishen the real beneficiaries of this programme,” he concluded.