RESIDENTS tired of Skibbereen’s main square looking like a building site, have complained to local councillors and called for the work to be completed, the square to be reinstated, and the town hall to be reopened for community and cultural purposes.
The town hall was closed during the Covid lockdown, but since then work has commenced to make it wheelchair accessible at the side of the building, which leads onto the square.
Much of the square has been cordoned off with high, rigid chain-link fences while work to create a glass entrance and ramp access is being completed.
It is the delay that is causing the frustration locally – that and the fact that the square looks like a building site at the height of the summer season.
One local woman told The Southern Star she rarely sees any work being done on the site and complained, ‘It is an eyesore.’
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) raised the issue at a meeting of the Western Division on Monday morning and pointed out that the building has been closed since the start of the pandemic.
‘We have pains in our ears from people asking us about the town hall in Skibbereen,’ he said. ‘This has to be the longest running project ever – County Hall didn’t take as long.’
‘It’s the height of the summer and the square is up in a heap,’ he added, while another Skibbereen-based Cllr Karen Coakley (Ind) said people want the town to look its best, but the square does not give a good first impression.
Senior executive officer MacDara O h-Icí told the councillors that work is progressing.
‘We are hoping that in the next two to three weeks,’ he added, ‘the square will be ready,’ but he gave no indication in relation to the town hall.
A spokesperson for Cork County Council issued a statement saying the works to the town hall includes increasing the capacity of the facility, providing greater access for users and energy efficiency works to ‘future-proof the facility.’
‘Once all works are completed Cork County Council will be in a position to take bookings for the facility from local groups.’
Earlier this year members of the local theatre society complained that not only were they without a venue for their productions, but they also had to go to extreme lengths to source other locations for rehearsals. They hired the local band hall, the GAA hall and the local boys’ national school, as well as community halls in Baltimore and Ballydehob.
They said they were told the town hall would be ready in December, but the deadline was moved to March 1st and then to the end of June. Skibbereen Theatre Society member, Kevin Cadogan said the completion of work would come too late for their production of Happy Birthday Dear Alice because they have already entered into an agreement to stage it at the community hall in Baltimore from August 17th for six nights.