IT’S a year since the Castletownbere Development Association (CDA) acquired St Peter’s Church in Castletownbere, a disused Church of Ireland built in 1841, with a view to developing it as a community centre and green space area for the town.
Work is now well underway in clearing the site, and assessing the structure of the building.
Cian Murphy, chair of the CDA, explained how the group had been looking to secure the use of the building for some time.
‘For a number of years it’s been glaringly obvious that there was a lack of a community space in Castletownbere. We had identified St Peter’s as a suitable venue and had started fundraising to buy the building. And just before Christmas 2017, an anonymous local donor came forward and offered to buy the premises for us.’
Earlier this year, the CDA obtained Leader funding to carry out a feasibility study on the church and Cork County Council also awarded the group funding towards clearing rock and landscaping the site.
The Association also received assistance from Lorraine and Chris Downey of Murphy’s SuperValu in Castletownbere, in the form of a heating system grant, which was made available through Musgraves and SEAI.
Cian outlined the renovation plans for the church.
‘There is a lot of work to be done. The roof needs replacing and there’s also work needed to stop water coming through the walls. We also plan to lower the perimeter wall on the south side to the same height as the front wall, so it will allow access from the pier side, as well as main street.’
Once the landscaping is complete, it will provide the town’s only green space area, which the group hopes will be used for hosting local festivals and events, as well as an area to sit and relax in.
The building itself will be available to local community groups and for regular events taking place throughout the year in the town.
Cian is adamant that whatever the building is used for will not compete with existing businesses.
‘The feasibility study recommended not to open a café in the building, which we completely agree with, as we want to encourage local businesses, not take away from them. We’re under no illusion that this is a long-term project, but it will be a huge asset to the town once it’s complete.
‘And we’re open to all ideas for possible uses of the building which will benefit Castletownbere.’