WHILE the redevelopment works took longer than expected, Shannon Leisure Centre reopened this summer and received a good response from the local community.
Difficulties between the leisure centre and the contractor resulted in the reopening being significantly delayed and led to a protest outside the March meeting of Shannon Town Council.
Seán O’Callaghan was one of those involved in organising it and he said there was quite a bit of local interest about it.
“We’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the non-availability of the leisure centre facility and we felt that something needed to be done about it. We decided we’d set up a Facebook page. The turnout is incredible but this is an issue that has been exercising a lot of people over the last couple of months,” he said.
However, the €1.4 million redevelopment was completed in the summer and all facilities there were free on July 3, when its doors opened once again.
Councillor Patricia McCarthy is on the leisure centre’s board and she provided a loan of €75,000 for the redevelopment from her own personal funds in May of 2009.
Prior to the opening, she said she hoped the facility would be used by the young people of Shannon. “People arriving will be walking into a brand new reception area. There is a new gym upstairs and there are meeting rooms available. The pool has been retiled and there will be a revamped steam and sauna room. The viewing area has also been revamped and there will be a café area there, so people will be able to sit down. We’ll be looking to encourage young people to come in and use it,” she said.
The official opening was performed by Minister Tony Killeen, who stressed the importance of sport and recreation. “The official opening event marks the culmination of the latest chapter in the ongoing development of facilities at the centre. I commend all of the members of the community for their vision, commitment and dedication in continuing to improve this excellent facility for the people of Shannon. Sport is an invaluable tool for developing physical and mental health, for both young and old. It is also vital that the foundations for active participation in sport and physical activity are laid in the early years of childhood and maintained in adulthood.” he said.
Mayor of Shannon Councillor Tony Mulcahy also welcomed the opening of the facility. “The sense of community engendered by a community facility such as this cannot be underestimated. I have no doubt that it will have a positive social impact on Shannon and surrounding areas. This swimming and leisure centre also provides a positive focal point for the community and will encourage children and adults to adopt a healthy lifestyle as well as make Shannon a more vibrant place to live in and a more attractive place for visitors to the town,” Mayor Mulcahy said.
Around 18 people are working in the reopened centre and manager Karl Fogarty said there had been a lot of support from the community. “The response has been huge, it’s mobbed every day. We have a few offers on membership and people are availing of those. A lot of people who were members before the closure have come back, which is good to see,” Mr Fogarty said.