A €300,000 community centre on Whiddy Island has been described as a monument to community initiative.
To mark its official opening last Saturday, 300 people were invited to the island off Bantry to join in the celebrations in the spacious new centre in a location overlooking the bay.
Tim O’Leary, who is a member of the Whiddy Island Development Association, described how the centre is already being used by the 25 islanders for meetings, social gatherings and classes.
As a multi-purpose building, he said it is well equipped to meet the future needs of the islanders, as well as serve as a first-rate venue for local functions, training courses, and family fun days.
Since it was first mooted, Tim said the project has garnered generous support from all quarters.
The association had, for example, set out to sell 100 wall plaques but managed to sell more than 300 which raised €30,000 in one fundraiser alone.
Tim said the project started about seven years ago, when a few islanders got together and decided to build a community centre.
‘We didn’t have any funds at the time,’ explained Tim, ‘so we approached different bodies looking for grants.’
Leader stepped up and provided the project with in excess of €220,000 and the rest they raised through a loan of €71,000.
The development association on Whiddy and the enterprising Tim and Kathleen O’Leary of Whiddy Island Ferry and the Bank House restaurant have worked hard to ensure the island is a wonderful place for tourists to visit.
Daytrippers can take the 10-minute ferry ride and find, at the other end, many beautiful walking, cycling and heritage routes, as well as refreshments which can be enjoyed overlooking the bay.