Young people help to revitalise city’s oldest hall

Young people are helping to breathe new life into Kilkenny City’s oldest and last parish hall, which only a few years ago faced closure for lack of use, and they are now hoping that it will help them to gain skills for future employment opportunities.

Young people are helping to breathe new life into Kilkenny City’s oldest and last parish hall, which only a few years ago faced closure for lack of use, and they are now hoping that it will help them to gain skills for future employment opportunities.

Twenty-four young people have just finished a FÁS-sponsored 10-week FETAC level 3 woodwork and construction programme at the old hall, now called St Canice’s Neighbourhood Hall on the Butts Green.

And FÁS is so pleased with the success of the programme that it has offered another 40 young people a 40-week FETAC level training programme that will run from the hall and the Newpark Close Family Resource Centre, partners with the Fr McGrath Centre in running the youth employment programme.

“We are delighted that FÁS is giving us the opportunity to help some of the so many young people who are unemployed in Kilkenny RAPID communities, helping them to skill up to improve their employment chances,” said Newpark Close FRC manager Sheila Donnelly.

The Butts Parish Hall is the last parish hall left in the city and it faced possible closure three years ago because of lack of usage or funds to renovate. Now a partnership between the Fr McGrath Centre, the Parish Council and the Hall Committee has seen a huge turnaround in only a couple of years.

Many social programmes and groups run from the hall, including men’s groups, art and music mornings, a social contact cafe, mother and toddlers groups and snooker, tablet tennis, bingo and pongo and pigeon breeders clubs, and groups are utilising the newly renovated facility.

Under its next three-year plan, the aim is to invest €170,000 to make the building more available to older people as an activity centre and to young people and families for social and training programmes.

The Community Partnership Group will hold a series of public meetings and set up focus groups to look at the needs of the area. It will also carry out a feasibility study including door-to-door surveys. Once that process is concluded they will hold a public meeting to present the next three-year plan for the Hall.

Young people interested in taking part in the new FÁS 40-week FETAC training programme starting in September can contact Mary Donnelly in the Newpark Centre or any member of staff at the Fr McGrath Centre.