Ballymahon's €6m Pobal le Chéile initiative is 'the definition of community work in rural Ireland'

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

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jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Ballymahon's €6m Pobal le Chéile initiative is 'the definition of community work in rural Ireland'

Ballymahon Town Team members, Ciaran O’Hanlon, Michael Farrell Jnr, Peter Dennehy, Grace Kearney, Liam Natton and Niall Dowler pictured outside Ballymahon Community Library.

The community of Ballymahon was in good spirits earlier this week following the announcement of an allocation of almost €6m under the Rural Regeneration Development Funding.

The entire town came together to make plans for the initiative, aptly named ‘Pobal le Chéile’, as it will incorporate all age groups in the community and ensure key services will be open to absolutely everyone in the area.

This transformational regeneration project will address the social, economic and physical needs of the town, bringing a number of vacant buildings located in the centre of the town back into use to provide enhanced family support services, a new dedicated youth club, enhanced elderly care services and a new rural working hub at a time when working from home has become the norm.

A lengthy, well-researched and well-planned application for funding was submitted by Ballymahon Town Team in December and the group was delighted with the announcement of their success on Monday when a total of €5,991,916 was announced by Minister for Rural Affairs, Heather Humphreys.

“This application has been a major focus for the Town Team and has featured heavily on our agenda as we worked towards enhancing the town’s social infrastructure,” said Niall Dowler, PRO of the Ballymahon Town Team.

“This announcement will provide a state of the art facility for Bridgeways Family resource centre, which will allow it to continue and enhance the fantastic support it offers our community.

“This funding will also facilitate the expansion and accommodation of the Day Care Centre which will allow a further expansion of its services. In addition to this it also incorporates the renovation of the Dean Egan Library and the provision of much needed recreational services for our young people, which will include a Youth Cafe.”

There are also proposals to renovate the old National School to provide a remote working hub for those professionals who have taken to working from home since the beginning of the pandemic, and a Men’s Shed facility, the likes of which has proven extremely beneficial in other parts of the county and country.

“This project will bring two historic buildings back into use within our community namely The Convent of Mercy building and The Old Boys school,” said Mr Dowler.

On behalf of the Town Team, he extended gratitude to the members involved in preparing the application, the staff of Longford county Council and, in particular, the Regeneration Team for their encouragement, advice and support when submitting the application.

“The Town Team would like to thank the community for their support both during the planning process and indeed the support shown with regard to the vision for this project,” he added.

“Today is a good news day for the people of Ballymahon and is the start of a very significant development that will be of enormous benefit for our community in the coming years.”

Grace Kearney of Bridgeways Family Resource Centre also expressed her delight at the announcement, saying Monday was “certainly a good news day for Ballymahon”.

“The €5.9m funding boost will ensure our social fabric is stronger than ever,” she said.

“This funding will develop existing services and will provide ample social, economic and development opportunities for our community.

“Bridgeways are beyond delighted to be part of this initiative. This project highlights the benefits of community organisations coming together cohesively for the improvement of the entire community. This is the definition of community work in rural Ireland.”