It’s all hands on deck in the village of Innishannon where locals are facing a tight midsummer deadline to avail of much-needed grant aid for a children’s playground, writes Áilín Quinlan
A planning application has already been submitted for the new playground and locals are currently in the throes of the complex tendering process which must be completed within weeks in order to be in the running for a substantial Leader grant.
‘We have to have planning permission granted, and a contract awarded by mid-summer under the Leader Funding Scheme to be eligible for consideration. It’s a highly competitive process,’ said Lena Angland of the seven-member fund-raising Innishannon Playground Group, which in turn is a sub-group of the dynamic and experienced Friends of Innishannon organisation.
‘This grant would be a crucial element in getting the playground up and running,’ she said, adding that, like other groups in the same situation, the Innishannon Playground Group would be potentially eligible for the maximum of €100,000 in grant aid for the project.
‘However, nothing is certain and even if we were lucky enough to get the maximum, we’d still need to raise up to €90,000,’ emphasised Lena, who along with the other members of the organising committee, launched the fundraising campaign recently. ‘It’s still early days but we know that a very significant amount of money will need to be raised locally.’
The group has already acquired a grant of €12,000 from Cork County Council plus some donations, bringing their total collection to date to more than €15,500 – with about €9,000 more pledged.
There are four primary schools in the locality, yet parents still have to travel significant distances to avail of playground facilities for their children, so there is huge support for this project.
The proposed new playground, which the organising committee estimate will cost somewhere between €160,000 and €190,000,would also benefit children from areas close to Innishannon such as Dunderrow, Kilmacsimon and beyond.
A site has been donated by the local Valley Rovers GAA club, and there has been an enthusiastic response to the group’s proposal that local schools, businesses, groups and families invest in shares in the playground, and shareholders are to be honoured with their names on a plaque once the facility is completed.
To date the group has received 14 firm pledges to purchase shares, which cost €500 and upwards, while a local business family has donated €3,000.
A lot of people have also put their shoulders to the wheel, pledging to organise fundraising events over the coming weeks and months, and these include a fancy dress walk next month, a fun run, and a barn dance in June in Innishannon House Hotel. Local dancers from the area’s recent Strictly Come Dancing competition will be donating some of the proceeds from a special reunion event in the coming weeks.
A touching trend, Lena revealed, is the decision by local people to pledge shares for the playground in memory of loved ones who were once active in the community but have passed away.
‘The idea is that even though they cannot play with their grandchildren any more, their memory will be ever-present when the children are in the playground,’ she said, adding that a carnival or festival in aid of the campaign is also on the cards for August. ‘It will be the first carnival of its kind in the village in many years,’ she said. ‘Because a playground is about fun, activity and community, we want our fundraising campaign to be about fun, activity and community.
‘It’s going to be great for the community as a whole in and around Innishannon. This fundraising drive will give us all an opportunity to get to know each other better and have a bit of craic while we are at it – and we’ll have a new playground as an end product!’ concluded Lena.
The initiative has seen massive support - not just from local residents, but from a number of local politicians also, and lending their support on launch night were TDs Mary Margaret Murphy and Michael Collins, along with Councillors Kevin Murphy, Alan Coleman, Gillian Coughlan and Rachel McCarthy.