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Sod ‘turned’ on state-of-the-art Youth Centre in Clonakilty

July 9th, 2021 11:50 AM

By Emma Connolly

At the figurative ‘sod turning’ ceremony in Clonakilty for the new Clonakilty Youth Centre were Mike Kirby, Clogagh Construction Ltd; Anne O’Donovan, youth centre committee; Natasha Sutton, co-chair, youth centre; Betty Hennessy, committee; Anne Marie McSweeney, committee; John Collins; James White, committee; Margaret Walsh, Mike Shanahan Architects; Cllr Joe Carroll; Clare Zuk, Municipal District, West Cork; Clodagh Henehen, divisional manager, Cork County Council; Christopher O’Sullivan TD; Rev Kingsley Sutton; Cllr Paul Hayes and Cllr Deirdre Kelly. Below: Before and after drawings showing the contemporary extension planned for the building on Lamb Street. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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WORK is finally about to get underway on the long-awaited Clonakilty Youth Centre.

The call for such a facility was first made to the Town Council as far back as 2003. And when the body was winding up in 2014, one of the last motions passed was the need to support local youths.

A former Council office on Lamb Street, adjacent to Deasy’s carpark, was of little practical use any more and so Cork County Council agreed to make the building available for use as a youth centre.

Funding for the youth and training facilities building got underway in earnest in 2018, with the community generating an incredible €100,000 and a further €237,000 has been secured in Leader funding.

Just recently, the sod for the state-of-the-art building was figuratively turned. It was a poignant moment for town mayor Anthony McDermott as he had raised the motion calling for such a centre when he was a town councillor. Designed by Clonakilty based architect Margaret Shanahan, she described the project as an exciting one as the brief was completely driven by young people.

‘The vision for the centre was that it would be multi-functional, and all inclusive, used by a variety of groups,’ said Margaret.

So for example it will be available to young people to hang out in a safe place, to do homework, practice music (there’s a sound proof room) and much more.

‘It was also important that it should be universally accessible so one of the features of the building is a lift to the first floor,’ she said.

As Clonakilty is the country’s first Autism Friendly town,  it was  also important for it to be an autism-friendly building in terms of design features. The centre is located in an existing old terrace house, once part of an entire row, which will be extended with a contemporary space.

‘It’s about linking the past, the present and the future – the youth of our town,’ she said. The committee is co-chaired by Anthony and third year law student Natasha Sutton. They both said it was fantastic to see the project at this stage.

Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind), who has been part of the project for at least 10 years agreed.

‘There are great sporting facilities for young people in Clonakilty, but sports aren’t for everyone. A dedicated space for our youth was always missing. We had been renting spaces which was hugely unsustainable so it’s great to see this happening,’ he said.

There’s a small shortfall in funding for the project and fundraising is still underway. See GoFundMe to donate.

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