It’s all systems go now for the campaign to rebuild Ballinrobe Town Hall - following Minister Michael Ring’s announcement of over €1m in funding on Friday last.
"This is the shot in the arm we needed. It’s the green light, and it means we can now finalise the tender documents, select a contractor and hopefully start work early next year. Completion date for the new Town Hall should be mid-2021,” said Michael Sweeney, chairperson, Ballinrobe Town Hall committee.
Minister Ring, announced €750,000 in Department funding and €300,000 in LEADER funding on Friday. He was in Ballinrobe to officially open Phase One of the Bowers Walk project, another important local amenity in the town. The €1,050m supplements €200,000 already allocated by Mayo County Council and almost €400,000 raised by the Ballinrobe committee.
Sweeney added: "The old Town Hall closed in 1996 and was later knocked for safety reasons. The current committee has worked tirelessly for the past five years to advance the project and it is very gratifying for all involved that it is now poised to come to fruition.
"The local contribution of €400,000 was very important. That convinced everyone – local and national Government, and LEADER – that the Ballinrobe community wanted a new Town Hall and was prepared to put its money where its mouth was.
"We are very grateful to all the local private residents and business people who contributed, those who organised fund-raising events and carried out the door-to-door collection throughout the parish. All of these will be publicly acknowledged in due course.
"The support of Minister Ring has also been crucial. From the first time we engaged with him about this project, he has been very positive and really encouraged us to press ahead. Our motivation has always been to give Ballinrobe a Town Hall of which it can be proud, a place where the community can gather.
"We also acknowledge the support of South West Mayo Development Company, who administer the LEADER programme in Mayo, including Gerry O’Neill and Norita Clesham and other members of their staff. Mayo County Council, too, have been extremely supportive, including CEO Peter Hynes and his staff, and our local councillors, Michael Burke, Damien Ryan and Patsy O’Brien, all of whom are members of our committee."
The announcement comes as the recently launched 'Believe in Ballinrobe' initiative gathers momentum locally, and the hall is set to be a flagship project for the south Mayo town in the coming years. The proposal is to build a hall with a gross floor area of 1000m2. It will consist of an auditorium and main hall area with seating for over 400 people.
Ballinrobe based Fine Gael Cllr Michael Burke has paid tribute to the work of the local community following the announcement that €1.05 million in funding has been secured for the Town Hall development in the town.
Speaking following the announcement Burke noted that this landmark investment in the town could not have been delivered without the work of the Town Hall Committee under the Chairmanship of Michael Sweeney saying: "There were plenty of days when it looked like we would not get our funding but I have to give it to my fellow committee members they kept the faith, kept the heads up and thankfully yet again Minister Ring has delivered to South Mayo. We have had a great committee involved in this project for the past number of years and it has been a pleasure to work with them and we can now look forward to putting this project out to tender in the next couple of months.
"The local community has raised €400k since the launch of the project in late 2015 and they have provided magnificent support and encouragement to the committee over the past number of years. The project is the largest ever undertaken by the community from a financial perspective and while it has been a long road reaching a milestone like this, having our funding in place, has made it all worthwhile."