This Sunday Bishop of Ossory, Seamus Freeman, will give his blessings to a community venture trying to revive the fortunes of the last parish hall left in the City.
Following 11.30am Sunday mass, St. Canice’s Parish Priest Fr. Jim Murphy and Bishop Freeman will be joined by City Mayor, Martin Brett to officially open St. Canice’s Parish Hall Neighbourhood Centre at a special ceremony marking more than fifty years of service to Kilkenny families from the old parish building on the Butts Green.
A community partnership between the parish hall committee, The Fr. McGrath Family Centre and local church and charity groups will launch a three year development plan that aims to revitalise what was once one of the most active community buildings in Kilkenny City.
Known for decades as the Boys Club, and still a snooker hall with some of the finest tables in the country, the community hope to renovate and upgrade the building to allow them to offer its facilities to a much wider user group in Kilkenny City. They also hope it will play an important role in offering employment training services to the long term unemployed and help create new jobs for Kilkenny people.
Chairperson of the Fr. McGrath Centre, Pat Brennan, thanked parish priest, Fr. Jim Murphy and Bishop Freemen for giving their community partnership the opportunity to redevelop the old building as a new Neighbourhood Centre. He said:
‘We are confident that with support from people and businesses in Kilkenny and our parish we can make this building a very important asset for Kilkenny families once more.’
Former plans to sell the building have been put on hold to give the local effort and opportunity to upgrade the facility and develop neighbourhood services for families in the parish and the city. Last year the Fr. McGrath Centre successfully sought a grant under the Community Service Programme to employ maintenance workers for the building.
Three Year Development Plan:
In the first year of their three year plan the local committee have already had considerable success in attracting more users to the old hall.
Now table tennis clubs, men’s action groups, youth, art projects and employment training services have joined the local Bingo, one of the longest running in the country, as part of the regular services offered alongside snooker to people in the City.
The steering committee behind the project hope to raise and invest more than €100,000 over the life of their development plan to upgrade the facility and open it up to more social and local community support groups.
Young people from the Fr. McGrath Centre will play host to the many visitors expected to view the building at the Blessing and opening ceremony after 11.30 mass in St. Canice’s church this Sunday morning.
The old hall was first established by the local church in the late 1940’s as a social club for boys and men but the building has served Kilkenny families for a much longer period in its original use as the local primary school from circa 1890 until after the last world war.
The Ceremony is planned for 12.15pm and the building is open to all to visit throughout the day.