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Town hall ‘essential’ for Ballinrobe community


Town hall ‘essential’ for Ballinrobe community

Ciara Galvin

Details of the two-storey town hall planned for the Neale Road, Ballinrobe, were presented to around 30 members of the public on Wednesday last. The new facility will cater for everything from afternoon tea dances to teenage discos, those gathered were told.
Chairman of the Town Hall committee Michael Sweeney said that a town hall was ‘essential for the community’ and would only happen with the support of the community.
The meeting heard that since the demolition of the old town hall in Cornmarket, the town’s clubs and organisations had dispersed and were now using a range of buildings in the town.
A proposal put together by the committee’s PRO, Liam Horan, and secretary, Siobhán O’Malley, outlined the reasons for the need of a town hall. These included the lack of facilities available for socialising, holding festivals, staging shows and similar events.
The proposal went on to say that musicians, drama groups, clubs and other groups had no place to gather, and that the people of the town had no place to celebrate achievements.
According to the proposal, a new town hall would cater for all age groups and reignite a love of arts in the town.
Michael Sweeney explained that a new town hall was first proposed as far back as 2008, when various clubs and groups were contacted and their interests were sought. In April last, the committee abandoned plans for a proposed site on the Parish Centre grounds after figures for that build became ‘totally unrealistic’.
Described as a ‘sharp, attractive and modern’ building, architect Donal McCormack presented preliminary plans to the meeting. The proposed building would include a 400-seat theatre, a box office and storage facilities, and would be accessible through the ‘old entrance’ in Cornmarket and the Neale road.
Although Mr McCormack stated there were some limitations with the site, he stressed that these limitations could be worked through and that the plan is to ‘use every square inch’.

Full support
The chairman told those gathered that the committee had met with Mayo County Council County Manager Peter Hynes, who told them that although he was in ‘full support’ of the project, the council’s ‘pot’ was ‘much smaller’ than previous years. The County Manager also expressed the need for community interest in the project.
Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council Damien Ryan said that there was ‘never a greater case for a facility’. “There has to be buy-in from the community. We have to get completely behind this. Building it is one part, but sustaining it is another,” he said.
Cllr Patsy O’Brien echoed Cllr Ryan’s sentiments, and said the councillors would work together in support of the project.
“There is going to have to be a contribution from the community; we’re not going to get this handed to us … We’re going to push this thing as far as possible. It’s going to be a long haul, a two- to three-year timeline,” concluded the chairman.
The deadline for submissions on the proposed plans is November 28.

Did you know
The old town hall was originally an old jail known as The Ballinrobe Bridewell.