The Ballina Men's Shed group will be getting a new home in the Estoria Building on Teeling Street in the town, it was agreed this week. The elected members of Ballina Municipal District approved the proposal at their reconvened June meeting on Wednesday.
Mr Paul Dolan, senior engineer with Mayo County Council, told the meeting: "They had been operating in another premises in the town that is no longer available to them. It's used by people from all over the district. Based on their positive contribution to the district we are recommending giving them the property for use under a caretaker agreement, and if it's suitable and successful then we will look at a long leases on the property."
Welcoming the proposal, Fine Gael councillor John O'Hara told the meeting: "The people involved in it are great people, and even just as an outlet for people to use it makes a huge difference to them. They do a lot of good work and are willing to help out with a lot of events in the town, they are just short of a premises for a base and this will give them a place to work out. The building need a bit of work done on itself, but there's a lot of people involved in this who have a lot of talent themselves and they can work on it. They've been involved in the likes of the Tidy Towns and the Salmon Festival. It's a great place for people just even go out and talk to each other."
Those sentiments were echoed by Fianna Fáil councillor Annie May Reape who said: "It's a shame they have to move, but it's a brilliant programme and they do a lot of great work around the town. People from all walks of life bring their talents to it. A lot of work will need to be done on it, but it's good to see the building being used." Independent councillor Gerry Ginty added: "It keeps people younger, if you're involved in something practical and useful to the community and this is something useful to the community and the people involved. This building had become a bit dilapidated looking and the people who have spoken to me about the derelict buildings in the town would ask me who owns that one. Sometimes I'd be trying to put them off, rather than tell them it was the council. This will address a lot of those problems."
Swinford based Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Smyth suggested that another Men's Shed group in the district could also do with a home, saying: "It's worthwhile organisation, I'm a member of the one in Swinford myself and there are about 50 members currently and were looking for a home in the community as well. It's great to see them being supported and facilitated in the community."