By Catherine Ketch
Terelton Community Centre opened two years ago following the setting up of Terelton Friendship Club. Margaret McCarthy is the treasurer and the club’s trip organiser. She set up the club having seen the benefits experienced by friends of hers involved in similar groups in Knockavilla, Crookstown and Newcestown. Terelton Friendship Club is now at the core of the Terelton Community Centre’s activities.
‘We come for the sing-song and the bit of dancing,’ says club member Betty Thompson. She describes the club as a bit of craic and a get-together with neighbours. Before that, Betty said she didn’t go to many places but now looks forward to going to the club meetings and events in the centre.
‘The Friendship Club meets on Tuesdays with a cup of tea and then we have some form of entertainment activity. We have music by Teddy Crowley today and we have exercises as well as bingo. We are also having someone coming in to talk on First Aid,’ Margaret McCarthy explains.
‘We have a lot of musicians, singers and dancers coming too and it takes the form of a scoraiocht – the Ballinagree Scoraiocht Group often visits.’
Apart from trips away to places of interest, the group also enjoys day trips to other friendship clubs and hosts visitors from those groups in return as well as dancing in Glenville on Wednesdays.
‘Members get plenty of notice and they just pay €5 for the bus. It’s mostly retired people from 55 up to 90,’ Margaret said.
Terelton Community Centre is certainly a veritable hive of activity. Apart from the friendship club there’s Mothers and Toddlers, Knitters and Natters and step-dancing classes.
As is often the case , a successful community centre has one key person as the driving force and Margaret McCarthy is that person. She currently works in the home and sees it as a great interest outside the house. ‘I like it, I like the music and they’re a good group. That makes it easier,’ she said.
‘Margaret is great and only for her we’d be lost. She helps everyone around – all the old people, everything. She’s great to cheer them up and bring them out. When we’re going on a bus anywhere she’ll make sure everyone is safe,’ said Betty Thompson.
‘Margaret organises all the trips and we went to Dingle there a while ago. Only for her the world would be a much duller place.’
Another club member, Margaret O’Callaghan, also had high praise for her: ‘She has a great mentality and a great attitude. She’ll get you out anyway and she’ll make sure you do it, that’s what I love about her,’ said Margaret, originally from Terelton but now living in Coppeen.
‘I never went further than Coppeen – over the bounds ditch,’ she laughs. ‘It’s nice to come back and meet old neighbours,’ and she recalls that she remembers the other Margaret going to school.
The old building in which the centre is situated was part of the priest’s house, and was already done up before the committee took it over. The set-up costs were funded through coffee mornings and a number of local donations. Apart from that a €5 fee per person keeps things going and the members hope that a future grant will allow them complete the work on the heating system.
‘We run it seasonally and we’re continuing now until June. We stop then for the summer – until September – and then run until December. We start all over again in February depending in the weather,’ Margaret explains.
The centre also facilitates meetings and is available for the afters of funerals too
‘Anybody that wants it can just ring up and they will be accommodated,’ Margaret added.
The committee is made up of Josie Sullivan, chairperson; Margaret McCarthy, treasurer; Helena Kelleher, secretary; Angela McCarthy, assistant treasurer, along with others who help out including Mairead Donovan and Helena Kelleher.
Mary Murphy is in charge of the Knitters and Natters while her daughter Deirdre O’Brien takes care of the Mothers and Toddlers group. Deirdre O’Sullivan is in charge of the step-dancing. Transport is provided by Bantry Rural Link and is central to all the activities allowing everyone to join in.
‘It starts below at Kitty McCarthy’s and goes right round the parish down to Toames. It picks them up and drops them off,’ Margaret explains.
Bus driver Tim Cronin from Ballydehob has been part of the scene since the start. He loves the group’s hospitality but says that goes in every place he deals with throughout West Cork.
Teddy Crowley who drives for Maybury’s takes the club on their trips. The award-winning ‘Singing Bus Driver’ sings country and western en route and plays at the centre as well.