On the invite of local Fine Gael TD Noel Coonan, Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan performed the official sod turning on Killea’s new Community and Heritage Centre on Sunday evening. Deputy Coonan said the centre, when completed, will be an enormous development in the area.
Min for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD pictured in Killea village turning the sod on the expansion of the Killea Community Centre with Noel Coonan TD, Min Jimmy Deenihan TD, Mick Duff Killea.
Deputy Coonan said: “This project is a testament to the dedication, determination and passion shown by Killea Cultural Group and the local community who are actively promoting cultural development in the area. Minister Deenihan got a taste of the strong community spirit when he visited.”
The sod turning follows a meeting facilitated by Deputy Coonan last November between Minister Deenihan and Killea Cultural Group where representatives and the local TD successfully progressed the project.
“I worked with Killea Cultural Group Executive and the local community to ensure the heritage centre was priority for the Minister and I am pleased to say that my representations led to the reallocation of funds for the project. Thanks also to North Tipperary LEADER Partnership who played a key role in securing funding. The centre will be a great community meeting place and a hub of activity for workshops, exhibitions and events,” said Deputy Coonan.
“The venue may also be used for Farmers markets, Christmas markets, after school groups, fitness classes, fundraising events and an information point. Works on the heritage building will advance over the coming months and I am very pleased to have helped this centre come to life,” concluded Deputy Coonan.
The Killea community had been overjoyed in the past ten days, to get confirmation that their application to North Tipperary Partnership had been successful and that they would benefit with a grant toward the building of €143,000. The Minister was eager to see the site where the new building would be situated and Declan Glynn of McHugh, Glynn & Associates, archetects on the job, outlined the plans to formally commence work later in the summer, after the annual Féile and Fun Day events. The Minister turned the sod to make symbolic acknowledgment of the soon to commence building works, and commented on the quality of the GAA pitch and the wonderful view from the proposed site.
Following this Denise Meagher, Chair, welcomed those in attendance.
Denise outlined for the Minister then what had already been achieved in Killea, in particular bringing to his attention where more help was needed for the community.
They have launched an annual Féile, in honour of the Late Margaret O’ Sullivan and the festival will celebrate its third anniversary this June. Sean O’Sé, the renowned traditional singer from Co. Cork, will officially open this year’s event on the Bank Holiday weekend in June.
They have established a School of Traditional Music which folded into a Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann earlier this year to become Cill Sléibhe Comhaltas. Cill Sléibhe Comhaltas will be represented in the Fleadh in Roscrea on Sunday May 20th, for the first time in many years - a tribute to the success of the school to date.
Moving from the music side of things to other works in the community. She explained that have set up a Tidy Town Committee and had the unusual honour of featuring on RTE’S Nation Wide last year, as an example of a community just starting out to make a difference in terms of our landscape, natural environment and heritage. The Cultural Group were invited to Farmleigh to meet Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, and for the official launch of Tidy Towns 2011. They now have an active and hard working Committee and Agnes Coonan, Laurie Kavanagh and Samantha McElligot, and their community volunteers were acknowledged for all their hard work. Critically the Minister was told that the Committee had plans to develop the area in terms of biodiversity and in really highlighting our local flora and fauna. They would be seeking financial support in their efforts to achieve this from LEADER, Shannon Development and other bodies.
Connected to this, and another key reason for bringing the Minister to Killea, was to outline the plans the community have to develop a double walking loop, with a trail head in the village, which they hope to get National Loop Status for, through Fáilte Ireland. The problems that exist, at a national level, between COILTTE and Fáilte Ireland were brought to the Minister’s attention in the hopes he might help the community overcome these problems in the months ahead so they can make the walking loop an official trial. Currently they are working with Shannon Development to see can they get the proposed loop recognised as a Regional Loop, and this could pave the way for National Loop status down the line, the great advantage of which is the insurance is covered with Failte Ireland and not carried by the Cultural Group.
Also of interest to the Minister was the landscape heritage in Killea and he was told that there was an active Graveyard Committee in Killea and St. James’ graveyard is recognised nationally as one of the oldest in the country – a wonderful attribute in terms of heritage. Recently, though the work of John Tierney, archaeologist, who was funded through NTLP, the community have engaged in an historic graveyard project to digitally record the headstones in the graveyard using 3G technology and this information is live on their web site and will help with genealogy research; with developing a link to their diaspora and with profiling the value of their local heritage.
Concluding her welcoming address Denise Meagher said that the community were most grateful to the help Deputy Noel Coonan had given them in getting the grant in place and thanked Minister Deenihan for his involvement in that and for his on-going support. ‘We only building momentum in Killea’ she said ‘and there is no doubt but that we will go on to establish a Walking Festival and to develop other amenities in the community. It would be great to have a local shop or a coffee house in Killea; great to see more people visit our village. It is with the help of people like you Minister, who came from a rural background and understands the potential in places like Killea, to help us on this journey”.
The Minister made reference in his address to all the aspects of village life that had been brought to his attention, drawing on parallels between his home place Fingue and Killea. He made particular reference to the Féile, to the importance of Comhaltas in a community and to his love of the harp. He talked of the importance of biodiversity and the need to mind nature, rather than against it, and hoped that the community would follow through on their plans in this regard. Minister Deenihan expressed his intention to help Killea continue on their journey of development and asked that he be kept updated on that progress through Deputy Coonan and the Cultural Group.
Michael Murray CEO with LEADER thanked Minister Deenihan for helping to change the rules in LEADER so that the monies that were tied up could be utilised and put to good use, rather than being returned to Europe in 2013.