The committee members of Slane Community Centre. PHOTO: SEAMUS FARRELLY.

Work underway on the long-awaited Slane Community Centre

Work has started on the long awaited Slane Community Centre, following lengthy delays in the project due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The centre, which was first mooted almost a decade ago, is expected to cost in the region of €1million and intensive fundraising has taken place over the past few years.

The facility, which is located on the Collon Road will cater for both young sand old and will provide sports and performance facilities for adjacent Slane National School.

Last September Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, unveiled the foundation stone for the new Community Centre, but work had to cease because of Covid-19 restrictions.

“Everything had to shut down, but now construction has started and we are hoping that the first phase will be ready in about ten months time,” says Maeve Carbin, chair of the community centre committee.

She explains that the idea started around 10 years ago.

“The need for the community centre was first identified by the Slane Community Forum, an umbrella group for 35 voluntary and business groups. Everyone agreed it was needed.

“I approached the forum about seven years ago and got a committee together of people with different abilities to try and identify a site and get the ball rolling as regards fundraising.

“We started with absolutely nothing, but the diocese gave us a long lease on a site beside the school and we will share some facilities with the school.

“A lot of community centres are vacant during school hours, so the school will be able to use the centre for PE and school concerts.”

Maeve explains that there are 40 different community groups in Slane.

“We hope to provide a home for all of them and that new groups will start springing up.

“Lots of people have ideas but the facilities aren't there. It will provide a real vibrant facility for the community.”

A lot of hard work has gone into raising funds.

The first big fund raiser was a strictly come dancing joint venture with the local GAA club, in which Minister Helen McEntee was one of the contestants.

“We held a monster draw, raffling three cars and now we are running a monthly draw.”

Once the committee secured their lease and planning permission they got a sports capital grant and they recently received a community grant from Meath County Council.

“We are still applying for various grants. We have three phases and we have the finance for the first phase - the building of the centre and making it watertight.

“The second phase is the flooring and furnishing and the third is extending the school car park and lighting. Once it is built, we will have another major push for fundraising.”

Croft Construction is the building contractor and James Shanley the project architect. The foundation stone will be built into the wall of the building as the structure is put in place.

Cllr Wayne Harding who helped secure the €75,000 grant from the Meath County Council Local Amenity Project Scheme, said that it had been a lot of hard work to get the project to where it is today.

“There was a huge amount of community fundraising and planning. It has been excellently planned. There are entrances at the school side and a separate entrance for the community, and the facility can be used for up to 14 hours a day. We still have a long way to go but it is an incredibly good project.

“A project of this scale is an enormous undertaking for a small village like Slane. The contribution from local people has been spectacular,” he said.

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