The long-awaited Ballinfoile Castlegar Neighbourhood Centre opened its doors this week, following one of the longest running community campaigns in the country.
Local residents have been campaigning for a community centre in the area since 1987. The centre was officially opened in May 2016; however it has effectively remained closed until now due to concerns over how the facility would be staffed and administered.
The local community had initially hoped the facility would be fully owned by the Galway City Council; however this was unfeasible due to a lack of funding. The community enterprise organisation SSCUL will manage the centre for the next two years.
The new centre will be open from Tuesday to Saturday, 9am to 9pm, though it is hoped that it will eventually be available seven days a week.
Located just off the Headford Road, the state-of-the-art centre provides meeting rooms, indoor sports hall with basketball court, car parking, and a large foyer which can be used for exhibitions and events. The facility will also provide an indoor health and activity centre. There are also plans to link the centre to Terryland Forest Park, part of which is located behind the building.
Local resident Brendan Smith, who has been involved in the campaign since the 1980s, said the facility was central to the area and would provide a social and community focus for everyone from the suburban estates of Ballinfoile to Castlegar village and its hinterland.
“This is literally in the heart of the area, including the rural area of Castlegar,” he said.