A lot of new residents have set up home in Cappawhite in recent years and it’s easy to see why when you look at the range of community facilities and social life the village has to offer.
They have relocated from Limerick, Tipperary Town and the surrounding rural hinterland to live in Cappawhite attracted by a better quality of life and the village’s central location to these two major urban centres as well as Limerick Junction train station.
Mayo native Seamus Lennon moved from Limerick City to Cahernalla, Cappawhite ten years ago with his wife and two children. The couple were originally from a small village and wanted to return to the country when their children reached school going age.
He recalls that they weren’t in their new home long before neighbours were calling to welcome them to the area. And he was very impressed with the teaching staff and facilities of the local national school.
But what has stood out most for Seamus about Cappawhite is how the local people pull together to make their village the best place to live as possible.
“I have never experienced anything like the community spirit there is in Cappawhite,” he said.
And he regards Cappawhite Community Resource Centre as testimony to the strength of that community spirit.
The Resource Centre is, indeed, the heart of community life in the west Tipperary village boasting a regional day care centre for the elderly, gym and recreation/sports hall, an open learning centre, multi-media and conference facilities.
The Centre, located beside Cappawhite GAA Club’s grounds, was opened in 2004 and was funded by a combination of a major local fundraising campaign and grant aid.
If you visit the Centre on any week day evening, you will find it’s a busy place with an eclectic mix of social activities going on at the same time.
“The buzz is exhilarating,” says Seamus. “You could have the U-12/U-14 hurlers training in the hall, evening classes in the multi-media room, Irish dancing taking place in the day room and another team doing circuit training in our state-or-the-art gym upstairs. The amazing fact is that it is all being run by volunteers from the community.”
There are seven part-time staff working at the Resource Centre, who are supported by about 120 volunteers involved in everything from organising weekly bingo sessions to helping out at the day care centre.
The Centre’s large gym and sports hall are most impressive sports facilities that one would expect to find in a large town rather than a small community like Cappawhite.
John Barry, the Resource Centre’s caretaker says he shows a lot of the people who visit the Resource Centre around and they are all impressed with its sports facilities. “People are amazed at it, especially the hurling teams that come here. They can’t believe we have such a place,” he told The Nationalist.
Cappawhite Community Council PRO Anne McGrath says the gym caters for all age groups from the elderly attending the Day Care Centre to teenagers. It boasts five treadmills, four bikes, three cross trainers and rowers, a skier, a kick boxing bag, a vibro plate, several weight resistence machines and weights area.
Rugby star John Hayes, who has family connections in Cappawhite, was the special guest at the gym’s open day before Christmas and is its honorary life member.
A wide range of sports clubs based in Cappawhite and the surrounding hinterland use the gym as well as the sports hall for training as do secondary schools in the area.
A Junior Club for young people aged between 13 and 16 has been set up recently at the gym and there are Unislim and various fitness classes such as aerobis, pilates and Zumba dancing are run there.
Anne points out that there is also a personal instructor available to do individual training programmes for gym users.
The sports hall is popular for indoor soccer sessions booked by groups and is used for training by local sports clubs. It is also available for hire for other indoor sports like badminton and volleyball.
The local GAA club is one of the main users of the Centre’s sports facilities with its adult and juvenile teams using it for training, especially during the winter months.
The hall also doubles up as a venue for local concerts, dances, fashion shows and parties. The sports hall will be the location for the Centre’s upcoming fundraising Nostalgia Dance Night starring such top entertainers as Paddy Cole and Crystal Swing.
Another Resource Centre fundraiser at the sports hall is the weekly Friday bingo sessions from 8.30pm to 10.15pm.
John Joe White of the Centre’s Bingo Committee says the bingo nights are a very popular social occasion for all age groups in the village and surrounding areas.
“You have little kids coming to the bingo with their mammies and grannies and we have a committee of 25 involved, who run the shop, organise the books and tickets,” he said.
Another popular social occasion at the sports hall are the monthly Saturday night tea dances that draw a big crowd of fans of the waltzes and fox trots from surrounding parishes.
The Centre is also the meeting place for the local youth club run by Tipperary Youth Service every second Saturday night and a prayer group that meets on Mondays at 7.30pm.
Another string to the Resource Centre’s bow is the Open Learning Centre, which runs a huge range of educational and training courses from computers, Internet and email use and various first aid disciplines to languages like Italian and Spanish, food safety, job search on-line and manual handling.
It also organises more hobby related courses like landscape painting, set dancing, stitch and craft, golf, photography, flower arranging and social dancing.
The Centre also cater for conferences. Tipperary Sports Partnership is among the bodies that have hosted conferences there recently.
Anne McGrath said the secret of Cappawhite’s success in providing such top class social and community facilities for its people could be summed up by the Irish saying: “Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine”, which translates as “it’s under each other’s wing that we survive”.
Cappawhite is a shining example of what a rural community working together can achieve for its people.
Anyone wishing to find out more about what goes on a Cappawhite Community Resource Centre should contact it at (062) 75071, email firstname.lastname@example.org or log onto www.cappawhite.ie.