On Sunday morning past the long anticipated official opening of Clonmore Hall took place and a large crowd turned up to see Minister for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle O’Neill, visit the new community facility funded by the SWARD (South West Action for Rural Development) programme.
Those attending were entertained by the local talents of Clonmore Choir and young Irish Dancers who attend practices in the new hall before Chair of Clonmore Regeneration Group (CRG), Kieran Conlon, took to the stage to give an overview of the project and pay tribute to all those who had contributed to the development magnificent new building. Thanks were given to the CRG secretary, Fintan McAliskey who spearheaded the application to SWARD for funding. Fintan was instrumental in ensuring the funding was secured and dedicated a lot of personal time to the project management and development of the new building between builders, architects and the funders. He also led the applications to Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council for the special spring floor in the hall and for running costs in the coming year. Acknowledgments were made to the past and present committee of Clonmore Robert Emmets GFC who signed over the old Clonmore Hall to CRG and to local community members Ciaran Donaghy and Gerard Dynes for providing additional ground for the new build.
Kieran went on to thank the Minister and the members of the SWARD LAG (Local Action Group) who were represented at the event by Councillor Sean McGuigan, Councillor Patsy Daly, Conor Corr and Helen O’Donnell for their decision and faith to fund the project, and particular thanks paid to Denise Pickering and Roisin Daly in the SWARD office for the admin work on the project. Next to be acknowledged was McCarter Hamill Architects, and our designated project manager Eamonn Cushnehan for the professional design, tender and development work completed. This led to a tribute to Loughrans builders, particularly the foreman Sean, for their swift work on building completion.
He then paid tribute to South Tyrone Empowerment Programme (STEP), represented by Bernadette McAliskey at the event who provided and unsecured loan during the building process and allowed the project to move ahead at pace. Kieran explained that the group has now secured a £40,000 loan with UCIT (Ulster Community Investment Trust) and fundraising activities will take place over the coming years to repay this.
Kieran then called on deputy Mayor of Dungannon & South Tyrone Council, a local community member, Dominic Molloy to say a few words. Dominic reiterated the sense of pride the building brought to the community of Clonmore and that as the community goes through the transition to the ABC council that the community activities continue to sustain the development of the area. Minister O’Neill then spoke about her delight to have supported the project and the need to continue to develop rural communities for future generations, particularly poignant with the current threat of closure to the local primary school. She referred to how much the old hall had meant to the community but it was obvious that the new building was already being put to good use by the community. She mentioned an excerpt from the event programme “living in the hearts of Clonmore people forever, but ready for a new set of memories to be made for our community…” and said that this should be the aim of the community. Minister O’Neill was presented with flowers and then cut the specially made cake for the event and planted the first tree as part of the new “Bringing Back the Blossom” project funded by Live Here, Love Here scheme under Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.
The committee of Clonmore Regeneration Group would like to thank all those who assisted in the building project in any way and to those who helped with the preparation for Sunday. Particular thanks to Margaret Conlon in all her help for preparing and co-ordinating for the event, to Louise Grimley and the two Mary Donaghys who handled the refreshments on Sunday, Roisin McAliskey for the slideshow and event programme, Teresa Dobbin-Donaghy for assisting with the dancers and to the dancers and choir for their performances that enhanced the event and showcased our local talent. Also special mention to Wes Taylor for the usual provision of the sound system for the event. Thanks to all who supported the event and we look forward to seeing everyone attending events and activities in the hall and for suggestions about hall usage. Keep up-to-date with all community news, please visit the community website www.clonmore.net
Photos by Ian McGuinness and Fintan McAliskey