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Community Groups : Ballyheane Community Last Updated: 15, Jul 2009 - 18:57


Ballyheane Community Centre
By Community Hall Committee
30, May 2009 - 09:56

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On Saturday 31st January 2009 Ballyheane Community Centre and Community Childcare Service were officially opened by Mr Des Mahon, Mayo County Manager and blessed by the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary.

Pat Kilcoyne, Chairman of the Development Committee said he was delighted to welcome everyone to the Official Opening of the new Community Complex in Ballyheane and that it was fitting that the event be marked as a special day for the Community in Ballyheane.

The new complex incorporates a Community Centre, Childcare Service, a Scouts Den, meeting rooms, changing rooms and a synthetic pitch with associated car-parking facilities.

Archbishop Neary told the large crowd present that he was happy to share this wonderful occasion with the people of Ballyheane and to bless this impressive and imposing facility. He went on to say “This hugely ambitious project has been very skilfully planned and executed by the Community Development Committee.

Ballyheane has its own particular identity of which it is proud indeed. You have given expression to that identity in a very powerful way with the facilities you have made available here and that is something very encouraging for all communities - to see a community that has pride in itself within a short distance of a big town. Communities like Ballyheane could easily get lost and be swallowed up by larger towns and thankfully what you have here will ensure that that will not happen. When people have a sense of pride in their own place they will develop it.

As Archbishop I am very happy the proceeds from sale of old Community Centre (formerly primary school) were donated by the Archdiocese and in addition a sum of €10,000 from the Parish Development Fund. I am convinced that it is a tremendous use for those particular funds. The overall cost for the centre and synthetic pitch is in the region of €1.3m.  I would like to congratulate you all on making this wonderful resource available for the people of Ballyheane and surrounding areas and for generations to come.”    

In his address Mr Des Mahon, Mayo County Manager said:

“You the people of Ballyheane deserve to be congratulated in no small way, because of your vision, because of your organisation and because you have delivered this project here.

In 2001 your local survey identified the need for sports facilities, for a crèche, for a community centre and for a scouts den and your committee delivered and here we are today, proud of a parish achievements.

In the case of Mayo County Council, we were happy to give €127,000 to this project and I’d like to thank the Councillors in the Castlebar area who put this as one of their priorities during their current term of office.

We have three or four of the councillors with us today and I’d like to thank them for coming but I particularly thank them for the priorities they have set because that programme was put in place back in 2001 to help and support special projects within their communities. At this stage they have given quite an amount of money, but more important than that, they have given a lift to many community projects that needed that extra special lift, especially at the early stages, that helped them to get further support from other funding agencies.

Mayo County Council, through its community forum, works closely with Community Councils in planning, advising and motivating communities.  This has been successfully done in recent years in eight communities through the Communities Futures Programme so I would invite Ballyheane Community Council to participate in that programme because that leads to a Pride of Place nomination and you’ve seen in the papers over the last couple of years how many communities in County Mayo have won national awards in Pride of Place and they won them because they are the best in the country.  And I’ve no doubt that this centre here is as good as any centre anywhere in Ireland and for that you should be justifiably proud.”

Jim Power, Coordinator of Mayo County Childcare Committee said that

“The tremendous work ethic displayed by the voluntary management committee has to be acknowledged”, and went on to say that

“One of the things that distinguishes this project is the involvement of Church, State and Community working together hand in hand to create something of real quality, and to provide the children of this community with the best chance that you can for the future.”
 
Jenny Barnard, Childcare Manager with the HSE said both Laura McNally and herself were involved in advising on the planning and design of the childcare facility and in helping to bring it to a reality.

She also went on the say “ I would also, just with everybody else, like to offer my congratulations to the management committee, to Kay, to all of the staff who work here and I think all of the parents and children who use the centre will know that you’ve really got a home from home here in Ballyheane and that you couldn’t wish for better care for all of the young children in your community.”
 
Pat Kilcoyne on behalf of the building committee chronicled the interesting story  of how the  project developed from conception to  its completion.

One of the interesting aspects of the development story according to  Pat was that the building committee had absolutely no funding when the idea was first mooted. Pat went on to say “ In fact we did not have money to send out letters about the project to the people of our community”.

Without funding the committee found  it  difficult to get financial backing from the banks  However with the  help of  the late Canon Paddy Curran,  Castlebar they received a positive  response from the  Allied  Irish Bank, Castlebar. Such was the positive response from the local community and the development agencies that the committee did not have to draw down any bridging finance from the bank and the project was now completed without having incurred any debt.

Pat paid tribute to all the people who contributed in any way to the provision of the facilities. Mayo County Councilors  and local Public Representatives for their generous financial support of the project; and to Des Mahon  and all the staff of Mayo County Council especially local man,  Padraic Flanagan.  

He thanked Leader, and in particular Jo Ortelli, Gerry O’Neill and the Board of Leader for their advice and all the work they did with the Development Committee as well as for their contribution towards the Scouts Den.

He went on to pay tributes to the building contractors for the project - Burke and Walsh building contractors, Tom Jennings for designing the building, the people who worked behind the scenes on the development of the project - John McGovern, Ann Burke, John Fadden, Kevin Quigley, Frank and Michael Moran, Johnnie McNamee, Gerry Dillon, Kay Hopkins, Noel Tuffy, Claire McCormack, Padraic Sarsfield and those who came on board to help with the fundraising; Christy Dillon for the use of a container for storage;  Michael Naughton and  Tom Walsh for  their professional help.

Paula Behan, chairperson of the Childcare Committee, said that it  was a day for the people of the Ballyheane community to be very proud of their achievement.

She thanked the Minister and Department of Justice, Equality and Law reform for the capital grant which was essential for the development of this facility.

She went on to say that Ballyheane Buttercups opened its doors on the 3rd September 2007 with 3 staff and 12 children

Since then the facility has gone from strength to strength and now caters for 58 children from the surrounding  and broader community. The top quality service offers full day care, pre-school and after school care.

Children are given a hot meal and nutritious snacks adhering to our healthy eating policy.

A bus collection service is available from the 4 local national schools Ballyheane, Errew, Ballintubber and Derrywash bringing children to the after school service.

The facility has access to an out-door play area, the community Astroturf, and community centre for physical activity.

Ballyheane Buttercups is one of the main employers in the Ballyheane area, employing directly six full time staff and two part time staff. Also the service employs four CE workers and one from RSS .

Paula paid tribute to the dedicated and highly qualified staff – supervisor - Kay Hopkins, childcare workers – Cathy Corley, Mary McNulty, Agnes Joyce, Noreen Walsh, Rachel McGrath, Geraldine Jordan, rose Marie Stack, Siobhan Casserly, Tracy McNally, Marcella Burke and Julia Stack.  Cook – Sandra Dempsey. Care takers John Fadden and Joe Roache.

She also thanked the Mayo County Childcare Committee, the HSE, POBAL, the Office of the Minister for Children, Leader and the RSS Scheme and FAS

Paula also thanked the voluntary Childcare Committee who give their time selflessly to the successful running of the facility.  The Childcare Committee members are

Secretaries  -  Caroline Murnane and Marie Keane.

Treasurers  - Mary Cunningham and Rosie Fallon

Staff Liaison Officer – Fiona Thomas

Parents representative Dorlores Heneghan.
 
 

Seamus Joyce, Chairperson of the Community Centre Committee thanked John Fadden, Joe Roach, Pat Staunton and Michael Thomas, for their upkeep of the centre, which he described as “an excellent facility for the benefit of the total community”.

According to Seamus, the centre up to the present was used for Music Lessons, Art, Dancing Classes, Youth Club, Martial arts, Over 55’s club, History classes, Ceilí, Yoga, Interior Design and Irish Language classes.

John McGovern thanked the members of the Community Council for their wholehearted support for the project. Current members of the Community Council are:

Ann Bourke, Eddie Conway, Frank Moran, Charlie Davis, Sean Skeffington, Joe Flynn, Richard Sweeney, Teresa Kerrigan, Noreen Walsh and Liam McDonnell.

He also thanked the directors of the Development Company, for their commitment to the project, without which it could not have been achieved.

Current directors are  Ann Bourke, Joe Flynn, Teresa Kerrigan, Pat Kilcoyne, Frank Moran and Michael Moran.
 
Local County Councillors and Public Representatives present for the opening were Councillors Cyril Bourke, Henry Kenny and Johnny Mee, with Beverly Flynn TD and Senator John Carty all congratulated the community in Ballyheane on completion of the impressive new facilities and in providing the Childcare and other services now available here.
 
Acknowledgments:

Moran Catering – Michael & Kathleen Moran
Sister Act – Paula & Patricia Flynn for music on the day.
Horkans Garden Centre.
Joe McHugh for doing a video of the opening.
Anne King and Sarah Fadden for administration support.
Sr. Maureen Lally for help with early stages of project.
Michael Donnelly, photographer.
All those who helped in the day serving refreshments, assisting with parking etc. 


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