The current focus of the group working towards the goal of rebuilding Ballinrobe Town Hall is on obtaining planning permission for the facility.

“A full planning application was lodged with Mayo County Council in July. The council raised a number of queries and we have submitted our responses,” said committee chairperson Michael Sweeney.

“Our motivation has always been to give Ballinrobe a town hall that it deserves and needs so badly.”

It is 12 months since the committee held a number of public meetings in Ballinrobe to outline their broad plans and to obtain community feedback. That information and consultation process also included addressing masses in St Mary’s Church on the kind invitation of Canon Conal Eustace, PP.

“We feel it is important to update the community at this stage so that everybody knows where the project is at. Our hope is that planning permission will be obtained very soon and we will then move to the funding phase,” added Michael.

“That phase will involve support at community level and hopefully from the statutory agencies and other parties. Until we get the planning finalised, we do not have an exact project cost, but at this juncture it looks as if we will need to raise approximately €400,000 from private and community sources.

“We aim to enlist the financial support of people from this region who live elsewhere in Ireland or outside the country. In the New Year, we will launch a fundraising plan that we believe will attract widespread support because all the indications from our public consultation engagement were that Ballinrobe people feel a town hall is badly needed.

“We would urge people to help the project in any way they can – full details of how they can support the project will be revealed in the New Year. If you would like to help out in any way, please contact a member of the committee.

The committee has held a large number of meetings with a variety of individuals and organisations, including An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny; Mayo County Manager, Peter Hynes; the South West Mayo Development Company, who disburse LEADER funding in this region, and elected representatives.

“We are very happy with the genuine interest shown by the various public representatives. There seems to be a very real feeling that Ballinrobe needs and deserves a town hall and I think we will get good support for the project. We are very grateful to the community for all the support to date,” said Michael.

A prospectus has been printed for the purpose of outlining the project in broad details, with particular emphasis on the demonstrated local need. In this prospectus, internationally acclaimed figures Moya Doherty and Brendan Graham have endorsed the project.

The prospectus has already been circulated to key influencers at local, regional and national levels. Anyone who would like a copy can obtain one by calling to Sli Nua Careers, Glebe Street, Ballinrobe.

It can be viewed online here.

Anyone interested in actively participating on this major project should contact chairperson Michael Sweeney (087 2588 615) or secretary Siobhan O’Malley (087 207 2307).

Committee: Chairperson Michael Sweeney, Secretary Siobhan O’Malley, Treasurer Sean O’Connell, PRO Liam Horan, Rory O’Neill, Tony Walkin, Margot O’Shea, Michael Burke, Mary Jackson, Tim O’Sullivan, Gwen Costello, Des May, Sheena Duddy, Mike Finnerty, Emmet Humphreys, Cllr Damien Ryan, Cllr Patsy O’Brien.

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