Hall

The following History of Askamore Hall was published in 2005 to mark its 25th anniversary.  It was gleaned from the carefully kept minute books of those years.

 

Askamore National School closed its doors in 1975.

Reverend Raymond Gahan arrived as curate to the parish in the same year.

These two seemingly unrelated events proved the catalyst for the opening of the Askamore Community Centre, some six years later.

The school was no longer needed as a centre for education locally, in line with the Dept. Of Education’s policy of the time of closing down small rural schools, and the primary children of Askamore were bussed to Ballyellis N.S. Askamore N.S. was therefore vacant.

Fr. Gahan called a meeting to discuss the parish purchase of the now redundant school building. This became a reality and the first committee was set up in 1977 to oversee the transition of the building from school to community centre.

It was decided to build facilities for squash, badminton, showers and changing-rooms. The necessary structure was 80 foot by 30 foot. Fundraising was an essential part of the new venture and Fr. Gahan organised and ran various and varied projects to raise the much-needed finance.

The building commenced in 1979 with a lot of work being done voluntarily under the expert guidance of tradesmend from the area. The irony was that Fr. Gahan was not here to see the fruits of his labours – he had just been transferred to St. Leonard’s.

The official opening was performed by V. Rev. Patrick O’Keeffe, P.P. on Sunday April 6th, 1980. There was a gala opening, with concelebrated mass, followed by the official opening, a social and “Plate Supper”. Music was by Tommy Carroll and tickets were £3.50.

This opening was followed by almost a week of dancing and events – Monday, April 7th was dancing to the Kinsmen, admission £1; Tuesday, April 8th had a Super Disco, with music by The Byrne Brothers, admission 60p; Wednesday April 9th was a children’s night; Thursday April 10th had The Green Isle Céilí Band, admission £1; Friday April 11th had a card drive followed by a social to The Kenny Brothers, admission 50p and to finish off the week there was a dance to Kay and the Strangers on Sunday April 13th, admission £1.

 

1980 Committee

Chairman:   Pat Tomkins

Secretary:   Luke Butler

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Eamonn O’Neill

Committee Members: Statia Gilbert, Frances Higgins, Mary Walsh, Bridie Nolan, Tom Buttle, John Doran, Lorcan Higgins, Sean Moore, Luke Byrne, Eamonn Doran, Matt O’Hara

 

 

1981 Committee Officers

Chairman:   Pat Tomkins

Vice-chairman: Arthur Quinn

Secretary:   Eamonn Doran

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Eamonn O’Neill

PRO:                    Sean Byrne

 

The Committee set themselves an ambitious programme of fundraisers for the coming year including: March – Auction and Bazaar; April – Anniversary Dance; May – Barbeque; June – It’s a Knockout; September – Kiss of the Year; October – Race Night; November – Card Drive, with £700 in prize money, which necessitated a huge push to sell enough tickets and eventually proved a great money spinner; Year-long: A Pony Raffle, with the pony being transported to various venues to hopefully excite interest and sell tickets.

Initially these events proved to be profitable, and they continued for the next number of years under the guidance of this enthusiastic committee.

Another fundraiser at the time was the sowing, harvesting, sorting, bagging and selling of potatoes! The mind boggles at the amount of work involved. John Doran stated at a meeting that “the potatoes were in a very bad state and something would have to be done right away”!  Eventually the potatoes reached their market!

A waltzing competition held in February ‘81 caused the committee to measure four miles from Askamore on all approach roads, in order to determine the legality of dancers in the local section of the event!

The following were considered to be within the waltzing Pale:

McEvoy’s, Ballingate; Travers, Tombreen; The Brook, Carnew; Dowse’s, Aughrim Rd.; Monument, Ballyellis; Doyle’s, The Glen; Stedman’s Cross; Dalzell’s, Raheen; The Church, Ballyduff; Garrett  Sinnott’s, Ballycadden; Joe Doyle’s, Raheen; Adan’s Cross; John Roche’s, Bullring; Mogue O’Neill’s, Bolindrum; Angela Kenny’s, Oldtown.

 

Membership fees for squash were:

Husband and wife: £30

Single:                  £20

Student:                £5

The thorny subject of a bar licence for the hall was aired. If 330 leaflets distributed throughout the community, 33 had reservations about the licence. A decision was postponed   until a later date.

 

1982 Committee Officers

President:             Reverend John Nolan, C.C.

Vice-President:     Pat Tomkins

Chairman:             Arthur Quinn

Vice-chairman:     Luke Byrne

Secretary:             Eamonn Doran

Assistant Secretary: Sean Byrne      

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Eamonn O’Neill

PRO:                    Sean Byrne

 

A Lord Mayor campaign took place as a fund-raiser in 1982 with the following candidates: Paddy Doran, Josie Keane, John Butler, Mary Walsh. This venture proved financially successful.

Work on the building of the bar began in September at an estimated cost of £4000. There was a push to have the work ready in early 1983.

 

 

1983 Committee Officers

President:             Reverend John Nolan, C.C.

Chairman:             Luke Byrne

Vice-chairman:     Tom Buttle

Secretary:             Pat Tomkins

Assistant Secretary: Eamonn Doran

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Eamonn O’Neill

PRO:                    Sean Byrne

 

A committee of 3: Paddy Doran, Pat Tomkins and Tom Buttle was set up to look after the bar, which was officially opened on Friday, June 3rd 1983.

 

1984 Committee Officers

President:             Reverend John Nolan, C.C.

Vice-President:     Luke Byrne

Chairman:             Tom Buttle

Vice-chairman:     Eamonn O’Neill

Secretary:             Pat Tomkins

Assistant Secretary:Aidan Kenny    

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Eamonn O’Neill

PRO:                    Sean Byrne

 

Trustees: Paddy Doran, Pat Tomkins and Eamonn O’Neill

 

Bar Management Committee: Paddy Doran, Pat Tomkins, Eamonn Doran, Tom Buttle  and Eamonn O’Neill

 

Ladies Committee: Chairperson: Joan O’Neill; Vice-Chairperson: Cathy Nolan;

 

The addition of a second squash court was discussed at a committee meeting at which members of the squash club attended. There was a projected cost of £12,000, and a majority of 28 to 7 voted in favour of going ahead.

This court was officially opened on October 27th 1984by Ronnie Delaney, Ireland’s Olympic Gold Medal winner from Melbourne ’56.  A dance with music by Teresa and the Stars, with supper included for £3, rounded off the event.

 

1985 Committee Officers

President:             Reverend John Nolan, C.C.

Vice-President:     Mary Walsh

Chairman:             Eamonn O’Neill

Vice-chairman:      Luke Byrne

Secretary:             Pat Tomkins

Assistant Secretary:Aidan Kenny    

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Eamonn O’Neill

 

Bar Management Committee: Paddy Doran, Eamonn Doran, Tom Buttle  and Eamonn O’Neill

 

General maintenance of the building loomed large in meetings throughout the year. The leaking roof was a constant source of annoyance, and functions continued to raise necessary funds. Badminton membership grew for the first time and squash membership was also vibrant.

 

1986 Committee Officers

President:             Reverend John Nolan, C.C.

Vice-Presidents:   Mary Walsh, Statia Gilbert, Cathy Nolan

Chairman:             Eamonn O’Neill

Vice-chairman:      Luke Byrne

Secretary:             Pat Tomkins

Assistant Secretary:Aidan Kenny    

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Margaret Nolan

 

Bar Management Committee: Paddy Doran, Eamonn Doran, Tom Buttle  and Eamonn O’Neill

 

The hard work of former years continued with squash, badminton, pool and darts making the centre a hive of activity.

 

1987 Committee Officers

President:             Reverend John Nolan, C.C.

Vice-Presidents:   Mary Walsh, Statia Gilbert, Cathy Nolan

Chairman:             Luke Byrne

Vice-chairman:      Aidan Kenny

Secretary:             Pat Tomkins

Assistant Secretary:       Andrew O’Brien

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Margaret Nolan

PRO: Sean Byrne, Andrew O’Brien

Bar Management Committee: Paddy Doran, Eamonn Doran, Tom Buttle and Eamonn O’Neill

 

The smooth running of the hall was not the result of happy coincidence as evidenced by this log of just one week’s work undertaken by the committee:

Monday: Stock bar

Tuesday: Empty meter and pool table

Wednesday: Stock bar

Thursday: Bring in new stock from outside store

Friday: Empty meter and stock up bar

Saturday: Wash out pipes

 

A President of Askamore campaign was organised in the early months of 1987. The following were the candidates and their campaign teams:

Martina O’Sullivan: Eamonn Doran, Tom Buttle, Andrew O’Brien

Statia Gilbert: Mary Walsh, Andy Keane, Paddy Doran

Ger Byrne: Eamonn O’Neill, Margaret Nolan

Luke Byrne: Sean Byrne, Pat Tomkins

 

The election result was announced at a grand dance on May 30th 1987.

 

1988 Committee Officers

President:             Reverend Frank Barron, C.C.

Vice-Presidents:   Mary Walsh, Statia Gilbert, Cathy Nolan

Chairman:             Aidan Kenny

Vice-chairman:      Ger Byrne

Secretary:             Pat Tomkins

Assistant Secretary:       Eamonn O’Neill

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Margaret Nolan

PRO: Tom Buttle, Fr. Barron

Bar Management Committee: Paddy Doran, Eamonn Doran, Tom Buttle and Eamonn O’Neill

 

This was a very successful year financially with a large turnover in excess of £25,000 and a sizeable amount paid off the outstanding debt.

 

1989 Committee Officers

President:             Reverend Frank Barron, C.C.

Vice-Presidents:   Mary Walsh, Statia Gilbert, Cathy Nolan

Chairman:             Ger Byrne

Vice-chairman:      Eamonn O’Neill

Secretary:             Pat Tomkins

Assistant Secretary:       Margaret Nolan

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Margaret Nolan

PRO: Tom Buttle

Bar Management Committee: Ger Byrne, Pat Tomkins, Paddy Doran and Margaret Nolan

 

The Hall was in need of a facelift and this committee undertook a list of 19 improvements, ranging from sowing trees at the side of the car park to replacing the sink outlet! The outside of the centre was painted for the first time.

The total number of meetings from 1981 to 1989 was 99, a remarkable commitment from both the committee as a voluntary group and from the community which supported the organised events.

 

 

1990 Committee Officers

President:             Reverend Frank Barron, C.C.

Vice-Presidents:   Mary Walsh, Statia Gilbert, Cathy Nolan

Chairman:             Ger Byrne

Vice-chairman:      Eamonn O’Neill

Secretary:             Pat Tomkins

Assistant Secretary:       Margaret Nolan

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Margaret Nolan

PRO: Tom Buttle

 

The availability of FAS workers was a great boost at this time as the burden of running the centre was beginning to take its toll on a committee which had been in charge of all matters social and administrative for over a decade. The range of work covered such varied areas as maintenance, running of squash and badminton clubs and the never-ending task of running the bar.

There was a debt of over £15,000 at the end of 1990. A battle-weary committee decided to run a Lord Mayor campaign to try to clear the debt.

 

1991 Committee Officers

President:             Reverend Frank Barron, C.C.

Vice-Presidents:   Mary Walsh, Statia Gilbert, Cathy Nolan

Chairman:             Ger Byrne

Vice-chairman:      Eamonn O’Neill

Secretary:             Pat Tomkins

Assistant Secretary:       Margaret Nolan

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Margaret Nolan

PRO: Tom Buttle

 

The 3 candidates for the Lord Mayor campaign were Harold Young, Eamonn O’Neill and Mary Walsh.

They raised £22,000 which cleared all the overdraft and left just interest-free loans to be repaid.

 

1992 Committee Officers

Presidents: Mary Walsh, Statia Gilbert, Cathy Nolan

Chairman:             Reverend Frank Barron, C.C.

Vice-chairman:      Eamonn O’Neill

Secretary:             Margaret Nolan

Assistant Secretary:       Pat Tomkins

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Margaret Nolan

PRO: Sean Byrne

 

Bar Committee: Fr. Barron, Eamonn O’Neill and Pat Tomkins

 

Considerable time was spent grappling with the problem of consistently available bar staff. An indication of the hard work still being put in by the committee on a voluntary basis is shown by a schedule to ensure the bar opened nightly:

Monday – Tom Buttle; Tuesday – Paddy Doran; Wednesday – Paddy Byrne and Lorcan Higgins; Thursday – Eamonn O’Neill; Friday – Mary Walsh; Saturday – Pat Tomkins.

 

 

1993 Committee Officers

Presidents:           Mary Walsh, Statia Gilbert, Cathy Nolan

Chairman:             Reverend Frank Barron, C.C.

Vice-chairman:      Eamonn O’Neill

Secretary:             Margaret Nolan

Assistant Secretary:       Pat Tomkins

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Margaret Nolan

PRO: Sean Byrne

 

Bar Committee: Fr. Barron, Eamonn O’Neill and Pat Tomkins

 

An alternative arrangement was suggested in 1993 to encourage on-going use of the bar. The possibility of leasing to interested parties was explored, but unfortunately despite much preliminary negotiation with various people, the venture was not successful at this time. This represented a change of policy by the committee, recognising the fact that a voluntary committee could not be expected to give an ongoing open-ended commitment to working in the bar.

An event which attracted interest from far outside the boundaries of Askamore took place in 1993. The Santa Village was the creation of a magical wonderland for children and adults, with Santa setting up camp in the hall in Askamore. Hundreds of children and their families visited the hall ad this reaped a huge financial reward to the tune of £14,000. This money was donated to Bosnia Aid.

Santa Village went on in following years to raise funds for Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Ballyellis School and for the Community Centre itself.

 

1994 Committee Officers

Presidents: Mary Walsh, Statia Gilbert, Cathy Nolan

Chairman:             Reverend Frank Barron, C.C.

Vice-chairman:      Eamonn O’Neill

Secretary:             Margaret Nolan

Assistant Secretary:       Pat Tomkins

Treasurers: Paddy Doran and Margaret Nolan

PRO: Sean Byrne

 

Bar Committee: Fr. Barron, Eamonn O’Neill and Pat Tomkins

 

The Badminton Club became an independent entity, using the centre and paying their way to the Hall Committee.

Because of the ongoing problem of bar staff shortage, the possibility of allowing the licence to lapse for a year was investigated. This didn’t prove to be viable.

Fr. Barron was transferred to Screen in September 1994 and Vice-chairman Eamonn O’Neill took over the position of Chairperson.

 

1995

In the early days of 1995, the future of the hall was in doubt. The situation was serious enough to warrant the holding of two public meetings in January and February. A circular had been distributed to over 160 families in the parish. The general feedback from the survey was that the hall should continue to function in the same way it had to date.

Some serving committee members were prepared to continue on the basis that their commitment could not be at the same level as before. New members were co-opted.

After much to-ing and fro-ing and behind-the-scenes manoeuvring  and a further public meeting, the following gave a commitment to form a new committee with a view to running the hall:

Fr. Dennis Kelly, C.C.,  Jim Gilbert, Ann Gilbert, James Doran, Harold Young, Liam Butler, Una Butler, John Nolan, Mary Walsh, Margaret Carton, Paddy Byrne, Hugh Byrne, Essie Doran, Frances Higgins, Andy Keane, Larry O’Hara, Sean Doran.

At a subsequent meeting, the following officers were elected:

 

Chairman:             Reverend Dennis Kelly, C.C.

Vice-chairman:      Harold Young

Secretary:             Jim Gilbert

Assistant Secretary:       Frances Higgins

Treasurers: Sean Doran

PRO: Ann Gilbert

 

One of the first ventures of this new committee was a 45-card drive to be held every Monday night over the winter months, beginning on October 30th, 1995. Each area of the parish was asked to host the card drives on different Monday nights. 10 years later, this venture is still going strong.

 

1996 Committee

Chairman:             Harold Young

Vice-chairman:      Reverend Dennis Kelly, C.C.

Secretary:             Jim Gilbert

Assistant Secretary:       Frances Higgins

Treasurers: Sean Doran, James Doran

PRO: Ann Gilbert

 

The committee set about renovating the school section of the bar, at a cost of approximately £10,000.

They also painted the hall interior, sponsored by Askamore Macra na Feirme, whose members actually helped with the painting.

Another ambitious venture was to bring big bands to the hall. The first big name wsa Richie Kavanagh. When he had been booked, he was just another singer, but then he recorded his hit song Aon Focal Eile, and the night before the was due to play Askamore, he hit Number One in the Irish charts. People came from all over the country to see him. Needless to say, this night didn’t run at a loss!

Some of the big names to grace Askamore were the Indians, Dublin City Ramblers, The Fureys, Johnny McEvoy, Susan McCann, The Bards ad Brush Sheils, to name but a few.

 

1997 Committee

Chairman:             Harold Young

Vice-chairman:      Reverend Dennis Kelly, C.C.

Secretary:             Jim Gilbert

Assistant Secretary:       Frances Higgins

Treasurers: Sean Doran, Hugh Byrne

PRO: Ann Gilbert

 

The large wooden partition which formed part of the squash court wall was finally replaced, much to the relief of the able-bodied men who had to be available to manually lower and raise in ton regular occasions.

The Old school bar was refurbished and to raise funds for this project, a Lord Mayor campaign was organised.

 

1998 Committee

Chairman:             Harold Young

Vice-chairman:      Reverend Dennis Kelly, C.C.

Secretary:             Jim Gilbert

Assistant Secretary:       Frances Higgins

Treasurers: Sean Doran, Hugh Byrne

PRO: Ann Gilbert

 

 

Candidates for the mayoral election: Ailish Walsh, Tom Buttle, James Doran, Jimmy Kearney. This campaign ultimately raised £17,000.

Fr. Kelly was transferred to Kiltealy early in 1998.

 

1999 Committee

Chairman:             Harold Young

Secretary:             Jim Gilbert

Assistant Secretary:       Frances Higgins

Treasurers: Sean Doran, Hugh Byrne

PRO: Ann Gilbert

 

Finally under this committee’s watch, the leasing of the bar came to fruition. From 1996 onwards, among the people who lease the bar were Margaret and Matthew Butler, Bridie and Bert Cogley, Frances and Lorcan Higgins, Patty Gilbert, Pat Hennessy, Mary and Ken O’Hara. When needed and depending on circumstances the members of the committee have continued to do duty in the bar voluntarily.

 

2000 Committee

Chairman:             Harold Young

Vice-chairman:      Monsignor Don Kenny, C.C.

Secretary:             Jim Gilbert

Assistant Secretary:       Frances Higgins

Treasurers: Sean Doran, Hugh Byrne

PRO: Ann Gilbert

 

A 210 draw, base on Nation Lottery numbers, was inaugurated as a fund-raiser and has continued successfully for some years.

 

 

2001 Committee

Chairman:             Harold Young

Vice-chairman:      Monsignor Don Kenny, C.C.

Secretary:             Fiona Carton

Assistant Secretary:       Frances Higgins

Treasurers: Sean Doran, Hugh Byrne

PRO: Ann Gilbert

 

Vice-chairman, Monsignor Don Kenny, C.C., was transferred to Terrerath.

 

 

2002 Committee

Chairman:             Mick Carton

Secretary:             Fiona Carton

Assistant Secretary:       Frances Higgins

Treasurers: Sean Doran, Mary Levingstone, Margaret Nolan

 

2003 Committee

Chairman:             Mick Carton

Secretary:             Fiona Carton

Assistant Secretary:       Frances Higgins

Treasurers: Mary Levingstone, Margaret Nolan

 

2004 Committee

Chairman:             Mick Carton

Secretary:             Fiona Carton

Assistant Secretary:       Frances Higgins

Treasurers: Sean Doran, Mary Levingstone, Margaret Nolan

 

 

2005 Committee

Chairman:             Mick Carton

Secretary:             Fiona Carton

Assistant Secretary:       Frances Higgins

Treasurers: Sean Doran, Mary Levingstone, Margaret Nolan

 

Up to the time of the 25th anniversary of the hall, the finances ticked over quietly but effectively. There were no major fundraisers, but the 210 lotto, the lesing of the bar and the card drives kept the wolf from the door.

 

As the 25th anniversary publication stated, the committees of Askamore Community Centre have done, and continue to do, invaluable and incalculable work over the years. Long may their vision flourish. As Theodore Roosevelt (US President 1901-19091) said ‘In the battle of life, it is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of a deed could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.’

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