There was a good turnout at the important public meeting held on last Wednesday, regarding the future viability of the Old Church, Mill Street, Borrisokane. Gearóid Fitzgibbon of North Tipperary LEADER Partnership (NTLP) facilitated the meeting in association with Borrisokane Community Forum. Chairperson of Tipperary Lakeside Development Limited, Michael Wilkinson spoke regarding the current status of the existing committee and the departure of anchor tenants.
The Committee indicated they would be open to all ideas – the Church since decommissioning as a Roman Catholic Church has previously been part used as a crèche, a paint sprayer business and a kitchen amongst others, so all ideas and suggestions are welcome. The Church layout lends itself to self-contained office usage; a large workspace; storage; canteen, all serviced by ease of access mostly on the ground level with separate toilet facilities (including disabled toilets), ample free parking and equidistant from Nenagh, Birr, Roscrea and Portumna.
A FÁS training course ceased last December; North Tipperary Disability Unit moved to Nenagh in May and there will be the imminent loss of North Tipperary Rural Transport office to Thurles. Arthur Guest as FÁS co-ordinator acted as caretaker of the building and with the loss of FÁS, so was Arthur’s stewardship role.The situation was explained to the 30 or so attendees that unless a new use or uses of the Church were to be found, the option was stark. Either make the Church a viable sustainable unit, or close the doors.
Gearóid informed attendees of one hour training sessions that would assist both local voluntary organisations to run committees successfully and to assist volunteers ultimately to establish a new not for profit organisation to take over the roles of existing committee members.This training is fully supported by NTLP and free of charge. Training will start Wednesday, 22nd October 7.30pm – 8.30pm and include topics as Roles and Responsibilities of committees and finance.Gearóid spoke of existing costs associated with running and upkeep of an old building such as the Old Church and referred to existing energy projects in the North Tipperary area which have included insulation of community centres, thus reducing energy costs and indicated that Borrisokane could be included in the next tranche of funding.
One of the ideas from the floor on the night included working with the Heritage department to provide classes on ‘old skills’ to include lime rendering; stained glass restoration, etc. These projects could be used to restore the existing building; work with the proposed restoration of the Workhouse and potential reuse of Teach na nÓg. All of these projects would add to the heritage of Borrisokane long term and greatly enhance the town from a Tidy Town’s perspective. The Borrisokane Men’s Shed indicated a willingness to assist in the tidying up of the exterior of the building. Mr Wilkinson spoke of the ongoing maintenance on the roof of the building but essentially the building is sound and needs and deserves to be maintained. If not, the property will be vandalised.
On the night, Cllr Ger Darcy stated that the building had been a hive of activity for the past 20 years and would hope that a new committee would be formed soon to continue this work into the future. He also stated that the community needed to rally together to save the building. Local NTLP Board Member, Padraig Moran said that we were all here to see that this building remains in the community. All politicians and the people of Borrisokane need to get behind and support the project to save our Old Church as a community, enterprise and resource centre.
If anyone can assist, help or make a positive contribution, no matter how small to the continuance of the Old Church, please feel free to get in contact with any member of Borrisokane Community Forum on firstname.lastname@example.org; Gearóid Fitzgibbon (NTLP) email@example.com (085-7409023) or call to the Old Church to see what could be lost forever.