St. Canice’s Neighbourhood Centre has a long and distinguished history of serving families in Kilkenny. From the late 1800’s until the end of World War II it served as the Parish School House. Circa 1945 the parish school moved to its new home on St. Joseph’s Rd and the building became the Parish Hall and home to many parish socials, drama groups and other community activities such as the Bingo which is still running today more than fifty years later.
Over those years much energy was placed by the church and local volunteers in making it a centre for boys in the Parish and it gained a City wide reputation as one of the best snooker halls in Kilkenny and it also became widely known as ‘The Boys Club’ until its gradual decline in the late eighties and nineties.
In 2009 the Parish Council and the Hall Committee were approached by the Fr. McGrath Family Resource Centre and informed that they as a Registered Charity might, with their permission, be able to apply for a CSP grant that would fund up to three staff (80 hours) for maintenance and that these staff could be used to help develop a new social development plan for the Hall which had served Parish families since the 1940’s.
The Parish Council, with the approval of the Bishop of Ossory, agreed to this proposal as a last effort to try and rescue the facility and help improve its use by parish community groups. The Fr. McGrath Centre Board asked that a joint working group be established to oversee this application and proposed development plan and suggested that it should consist of two members from the existing Hall Committee, two Directors of the voluntary Board of the Fr. McGrath Centre and three members of the Parish Council and one member of the neighbouring St. Vincent De Paul group and this proposed plan would have three major objectives:
- To develop a financial investment and social enterprise strategy to help upgrade the very dated and under used premises to help increase the number of individuals and community and social support users groups able to access the facilities.
- To find a way to make the premises more economically sustainable and to help generate income to invest in improving and upgrading the Hall.
- To encourage volunteerism in the Parish to assist with the above aims and to help develop social, education and employment support programmes and responses for younger and older parish residents.
The first three year development plan for this facility is almost concluded and a considerable sum has been invested to help us upgrade these facilities. Local needs analyses surveys are now under way to help us prepare our next three year plan early in 2013.