BY EMMA CONNOLLY
CLONAKILTY is known for its award winning community spirit – and now they are being asked to lend that support to the town’s young people who are looking for a ‘place to call home.’
A major fundraising drive is underway to generate in the region of €70,000 to develop a Community Youth Centre for Foroige in Deasy’s Car Park.
The building was made available to the Clonakilty Youth Centre Committee in 2014 before the Town Council was abolished however, major renovation works need to be carried out as well as an extension added on to deliver on their dream.
As part of this ambitious campaign, international star Tommy Fleming will perform in the town’s church on October 20th.
Monsignor Aidan O’Driscoll didn’t hesitate to make the venue available for the campaign which is one he’s fully backing.
‘There are so many great young people in Clonakilty and I want to support this initiative. I thought it would be a good gesture and that a Tommy Fleming performance would be a good launching pad.’
Tommy himself said he didn’t hesitate when asked to get on board.
‘When Monsignor O’Driscoll said he wanted to raise the funds for the Youth Centre, it was always going to be an easy yes. These young people are our next generation and in a way our future and these youth centres are another guidance outlet for them that helps shape them as young adults.’
He added: ‘I think facilities that benefit young people are a vital addition to any community. I was a member of Foroige for many years and found it shaped and developed me and young adults, encouraging us the skills to communicate, share and above all work together to achieve our goals.’
Co-chair of the community youth entre committee former mayor Anthony McDermott feels there is a great need for such a centre in the town.
‘We have been using a room in the Parish Centre but we need a dedicated and safe space for our 30 members or so. Not every young person is into sport and a space like this would be ideal with things like pool tables and wifi.’
Mons O’Driscoll agreed: ‘There are great sports facilities in Clonakilty but this would help bring on youngsters not engaging with sport – in fact it would be a great addition for everyone; it has great potential.’
Co-chair of the committee Natasha Sutton agreed.
The fifth year student at Sacred Heart Secondary School acknowledged the centre was most likely something she wouldn’t benefit from but none the less she is prepared to give it her all to get the project over the line.
‘We just want somewhere to call home,’ said Natasha, who has been part of Foroige since she was in second year.
‘It is frustrating for me as I’ve been in Foroige for so long and I’d like to see it going somewhere. I’m 17 now so this facility probably won’t benefit me but it will be for the younger people coming up and a benefit to Clonakilty.
‘We don’t have a time period to get the funds raised – but essentially the sooner the better,’ she said as they want to grow their membership and plan ahead.
The award winning debater appealed for support saying: ‘Growing up all you want is somewhere you can socialise with your own age group and this would be it; parents would also have peace of mind as it would be a safe environment.’
It’s been a few years since Mayo man, Tommy has performed in West Cork, but he has great memories of the area.
‘Some of my early memories are my acoustic gigs in De-Barra’s in Clonakilty and the fantastic sessions in Shanley’s Bar a treat for anyone but now to perform as a solo singer in the Church one of the most iconic buildings in Clonakilty is an honour and one of the highlights in my solo career.’
Mons O’Driscoll said the concert will be a great night not just for those involved in the campaign but for the entire town and is appealing for people to come out and support it.
Tommy himself is promising the audience an unmissable evening:
‘I promise you a great night of songs, stories and music which will include many of the old favorites that the audience expects to hear with one or two new songs and the obligatory surprises. I have found myself going back to a lot of the old favourite like Danny Boy, The Contender, The Isle Of Inisfree and many others that I’ve been singing since childhood, they always evoke wonderful memories for me.’
The youth centre have erected a large fund-o-meter at Deasy’s car park to track the campaign – it currently stands at a none too shoddy €13,000 - but it’s hoped that with the town’s support the barometer will start edging closer to the magic €70,000.
• Tickets for the 800 capacity concert cost €30 are and are selling fast. They’re available from O’Donovan’s Hotel, and Paddy Meade Newsagents, Pearse St, Clonakilty or www.tommyfleming.com or 0872448520.