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Martin Smyth, Smyth Faha Developments; Kathleen McNamara, secretary Lough Graney Community Development Association and Councillor Pat Hayes, Chairman Lough Graney Community Development Association at the new centre. Photograph by Arthur Ellis.

Lough Graney centre to open doors

AFTER more than 10 years waiting, the doors of the Lough Graney Community Centre are set to open.

Ahead of opening for public viewing on Saturday,  Kathleen McNamara, secretary of Loughgraney Community Development Association, acknowledged, “There is no way we would have a community centre in Flagmount without CLDC.”

The community development association received LEADER funding of €230,000 to build this centre and, subsequently, received€45,000 under Sports Capital funding to equip the centre.

“CLDC have been brilliant. I know they are fighting this struggle about keeping LEADER funding administered by CLDC, but we have seen first-hand what it can do. If we didn’t have CLDC administering the funding, then a small community like ours would never have got it. I think it is vital for LEADER funding to be left with CLDC and our small rural parish and community is a case in point for it. CLDC have a great rapport with communities and they give you backup and support. There is no way we would have a community centre in Flagmount without CLDC because funding would go into the big population areas. We are one of the lucky ones and, in the long term, the community will reap the rewards for it,” Ms McNamara outlined.

The facility has been a long time coming, as it has taken the community nearly 12 years to secure a site and funding for a community centre.

“It has been a work in progress over the last 10 to 12 years. There were house-to-house meetings, looking for suitable sites. We were fortunate to secure a long-term lease with the diocese and it meant we could obtain a site and that gave us a good start. We applied to LEADER for the funding and gettting the €230,000 was a huge boost for us. We have never had a community centre and it was the one thing the community needed,” she continued.

The centre will be a multipurpose facility. Ms McNamara said the group was very conscious of the number of creative people living locally. She said the centre will cater for arts and crafts demonstrations.

Ms McNamara explained that these uses were identified through house-to-house calls, as part of their fundraising campaign, and all feedback was taken on board.

“We got a lot of feedback that people would like different things and we went back and re-addressed that so we would have the gym and the fitness room and the acoustic ceiling and all these extras. The closest gym would be in Gort or Scariff, as there is nothing in the locality. People are dying to get into it and get events rolling. There’s been great feedback and people can see the potential it has. It is going to be of benefit to all generations, young and old, so it’s nice that it incorporates all age groups,” she said.

Although the facility has now been completed, it does not mean that the community’s input stops and Ms McNamara has invited all interested parties to share their views and suggestions, either at the open evening event or to the committee anytime.

“It’s all about how to make full use of the centre. New ideas are always welcome,” she said.

The committee  has managed to raise more than €70,000 in two years, locally. Ms McNamara said there is still a small shortfall but it is hoped to raise this over a longer time period.

The hall will be opening for viewing on Saturday from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, and on Monday, August 11, from 7pm to 9pm. It is envisaged to continue opening it to the public for viewing at these times throughout the month of August, culminating in an official opening in September, when it will open fully for use.

By Carol Byrne

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