An online fundraising campaign has been launched to help breathe new life into a building which has been at the heart of community life on Cork’s northside for over 60-years.
The landmark Parochial Hall in Gurranabraher opened on May 14, 1958. Now, just days after its 63rd birthday, a GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help fund vital ongoing renovations.
The hall has been used for decades for sporting, recreational and social events, from basketball on one of the finest floors in the country, to PE sessions and as an exams hall for local schools, from discos to the more refined music sessions enjoyed by older citizens in the gramophone room.
It has also played a vital role in the social life of the northside, providing a venue for the preparation of meals on wheels, for fitness classes for older adults, as a meeting venue for members of the local men’s shed, and for the ‘friendly call’ initiative - the daily telephone call service to isolated older adults. These services have been a lifeline for many and not just during the pandemic.
The voluntary committee, which took over the running of the hall in 2016, embarked soon afterwards on an ambitious renovation and upgrade plan, to secure the structure for the next 60-years.
All internal and external lighting was replaced with long-lasting and low-energy LED bulbs. Major repairs were undertaken to the hall’s flat roof and stage section, thanks to some grant-aid to the tune of €30,000 from Cork City Council.
The committee hired a company to remove blocks which had bricked up some of the hall’s higher level windows and install 18 new uPVC double-glazed safety laminate glass panels on one side, and to install 18 new windows on the western side of the building. This work has flooded the building with natural light.
A €103,000 upgrade of the building’s electrical system is ongoing.
But because the hall has been effectively closed to most groups since the pandemic started in March 2020, the committee’s income stream has been affected.
“This has severely impacted on the ability to fundraise as the hall has been unable to hold weekly bingo sessions and we have been unable to rent the hall to our various clients,” a spokesman said.
“Since 2016 the current voluntary committee has been reinvesting the income the hall generates through renting the facility to groups and clubs and Sunday bingo, back into this invaluable amenity.
“However, since March 2020, when our doors closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have no income and like so many we too have insurmountable bills to pay to keep the Parochial Hall open for the current and upcoming generations to enjoy.”
The committee has appealed to people to support its GoFundMe campaign to ensure the availability of the hall as a resource for future generations.
You can donate at the online fundraiser here.