The hall that community spirit built

Jackie Hughes was one of the leading men in the development of Ennybegs Community Centre. He drew up the plans for the building and like all those who worked to bring the project to fruition, he gave his time and expertise in a voluntary capacity throughout the development.

Jackie Hughes was one of the leading men in the development of Ennybegs Community Centre. He drew up the plans for the building and like all those who worked to bring the project to fruition, he gave his time and expertise in a voluntary capacity throughout the development.

During last week’s 25th anniversary celebrations, he spoke to the Leader about the project.

“The decision to build a community centre in the parish was made about three years beforehand; a small group took the decision to knock the old school and build a new community centre on the site,” he explained. “We didn’t want to get into debt and so fundraising began.”

It was John Doherty, Jackie Hughes, Pat Devaney and Peter Comiskey who spearheaded the project and in terms of fundraising, they succeeded in getting the whole parish on board. The money came in from all over Ireland and the US and bit by bit, Ennybegs Community Centre came to fruition.

A State grant, at the last minute, also proved vital to the centre’s establishment. Local tradesmen gave assistance during the development and also provided tractors, cement mixers and any other machinery or equipment that was required.

In fact while some were volunteering at the centre, the women at home kindly stepped in to milk the cows and attend to other jobs around the farm.

“The fundraising ideas were brilliant; the women from the ICA knitted squares from a quilt and they met up one evening in Comiskey’s and put the whole thing together. It was then raffled off,” Mr Hughes added.

“Then we had a huge fundraiser where we put up a ticket to go to America. Tickets cost £10 at the time, which was a considerable amount of money, and then PJ Quinn, the late Maurice Kiely and John Doherty organised a cycle from Dublin to Belfast. We also raffled a car - a Morris Minor - and there were numerous raffles and draws held as time went on. We even ran a very successful carnival.

“The Lennon brothers and the Rowleys, who were in New York ran fundraisers over there and that proved to be a very significant financial boost for the centre.”

Mr Hughes believes that the idea to build a community centre in the parish had been laid down as far back as 1958.

“Fr Michael Egan was an Irish priest who served in Afghanistan and he came to Killoe with big ideas and vision, determined to build a hall,” he added.

“It’s amazing really how it all came together. I remember Mickie Brady and Bill Shaughnesy who got huge co-operation from the late Fr Leavy. In fact Fr Leavy helped to pay for the slatting around the edge of the roof of the centre and that really was a huge boost.

“Then towards the end we got a grant and that helped to build the boundary wall and lay down the tarmacadam.

“Pat Stenson, who was a councillor at the time, and Paddy Cooney TD were very helpful to us in terms of that grant. In fact, by the time the centre was built, we had done it without ever borrowing a penny.”

These days, the community centre in Ennybegs hosts all types of events, from mother and toddler groups to plays by the Cilloe Yew Tree Players, bingo, dancing, including Sean Nós and Scór events, to mention but a few.

On August 25 next, a Monster Bingo night will be held at the centre with a massive €2,500 up for grabs. Committee members include: John Browne, Fr Séan Casey, Eugene Devaney, Bridie Browne, Brendan Bracken and Nellie McGoldrick