New centre will strengthen community spirit

Work has begun on building a new €400,000 community centre for the people of St Oliver’s Parish in Clonmel.

Work has begun on building a new €400,000 community centre for the people of St Oliver’s Parish in Clonmel.

Construction workers began clearing the site beside St.Oliver’s Parish Church at Glenconnor last Tuesday week and Parish Priest Fr. Michael Hegarty says it’s expected to have the new community centre up and running by the end of the year.

The 3,200 square feet, single-storey development received the final green light from An Bord Pleanala in December.

The planning permission Clonmel Borough Council granted to the project last August was appealed by two local residents.

But following its own investigation, An Bord Pleanala concluded that the community centre wouldn’t seriously injure residential and visual amenities of adjoining properties and confirmed the Borough Council’s decision.

The community centre will include a large general purpose hall, two smaller meeting rooms and a canteen/lounge, kitchen and toilet facilities. Sixty car parking spaces for both the centre and church will also be created.

Fr. Hegarty said the centre will cater for a wide range of local community groups and non-sports related social clubs for all age groups. He stressed that the community groups using the centre won’t have to be specifically based in St Oliver’s Parish.

St Oliver’s Sports Complex will continue to cater for local sports clubs and will soon transfer from the ownership of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore to Waterford and South Tipperary Community Youth Service

Fr. Hegarty is hoping the centre will kick-start the revival of several defunct community groups in St Oliver’s Parish and will be instrumental in strengthening community spirit in the large parish, which covers nearly 1,500 households.

“You can have areas in urban communities where people are living in isolation from one another. We hope a facility like this that is open to everyone and properly run will bring people together. This was recognised by An Bord Pleanala in its decision. It felt this type of facility would add to the local community.”

The need for a community centre for St Oliver’s Parish was identified as far back as 1991 before St Oliver’s Church was built. But at that time, the building of the parish church was the priority.

The 60 new car parking spaces that also received planning approval as part of the community centre project will be very much welcomed in St Oliver’s Parish, as there is currently not enough parking on occasions when large crowds attend the church for ceremonies such as Confirmations and some funerals. The playing field next to St Oliver’s School is used for overflow parking on such occasions.

St Oliver’s Parish will pay for the new community centre through savings and an interest-free loan from the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, which is expected to be approved in the next month. The site on which the centre is being built is already owned by the parish.

The parish will have to raise about €130,000 to repay the Diocesan loan.

Jimmy Moloney of St Oliver’s Parish Finance Committee said donations to the parish’s monthly envelope collection are being put to the Community Centre fund.

“We are going house-to-house in the parish asking people to contribute to the envelope collection monthly. If people just return the envelope with even just a small donation, it will help. Any donation will be very appreciated,” said Mr. Moloney, who was also involved in the fundraising campaign for St Oliver’s Church that took almost 25 years.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the St Oliver’s Parish Community Centre Fund should contact St Oliver’s Parish Office at (052)6125679.