KILKENNY Lions Club has thrown its support behind an ambitious local effort to save an old parish hall and at the same time create jobs and multiple services for older people, youth and families in Kilkenny.
At the recent visit by the Minister for Environment and Community Affairs, Phil Hogan, to St. Canice’s Neighbourhood Centre on the Butts Green, Lions Club members made a generous donation to support the efforts of volunteers attempting to renovate the old parish hall that has served the people of Kilkenny for more than a century.
On their visit they met with voluntary members of the community including local woman running a crafts and music programme and a ‘Contact Cafe’ and community library every weekday morning from the premises. They were also greeted by Chairman of Kilkenny Men’s Action Network, Tim ‘Cha’ Haide and Teresa Nolan of Kilkenny Social Services for the Elderly and many members of the Men’s Action Network who run regular programmes from the Hall each week for the more than fifty regular members in the group. Hon. President, Bishop Lar Forristal helped found the group for men living alone when he retired to the Parish.
Chairperson Pat Brennan of the lead agency behind the innovative effort, the Fr. McGrath Centre, thanked the Kilkenny Lions group and said the generous support of the Lions Club over the past two years had given a great boost to the efforts of the many volunteers and community committees working on ambitious development plans for the much loved building.
“Their support has also encouraged key government agencies to give serious considerations to our plans and we are now in talks with Kilkenny Co. Council, the Age Friendly Co. Initiative, the HSE Elderly Persons Support Services manager, FAS, the RAPID Programme and the Parish Council and the local Vincent De Paul on a future plan to create jobs and much wider ranging support services for Kilkenny families and young and old in our city and county,” he said.
Phillip O’ Neill, treasurer of the Lions Club told Minister Hogan on his visit that the Lions Club was greatly impressed with the energy and innovation shown by the volunteers and the leadership coming from the team at the Fr. McGrath Centre.
“Lions Club members and our supporters like to see us supporting community initiatives we know will be around for a long time serving local families and we have faith that this Neighbourhood Centre will be one project that can help many families for a very long time into the future if they are properly supported,” Mr O’Neill said.
The Neighbourhood Hall is coming to the end of its first three year plan. Over that time craft groups, contact cafes, music and art programmes, the Pongo club, table tennis clubs, keep fit, employment training courses are just some of the many activities that have joined the older hall activities including Kilkenny’s longest running bingo on Tuesday nights, snooker activities and the Kilkenny Pigeon Club. The steering group behind the project and supported by the Fr. McGrath Centre is now in active discussions with social, community and
Government agencies on their next even more ambitious development plan. A key focus of the next stage of their development plan will be activities for elderly people and employment and job creating social enterprises to operate from this and possibly neighbouring sites. After wide ranging consultations with interested community and government groups they hope to launch their new plan early next year.