Some work has already been completed including replacement of the windows and door which are currently boarded up for insurance reasons and the outside of the hall was also painted and (above inset) the hall before the preliminary works.

Rundown parish hall to become vibrant space for arts, music, sports and culture

Plans to see the parish hall in Enfield brought back into use for the community have taken a massive step forward with €250,000 announced for the project under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

The money will go towards refurbishing St Patrick's Hall into a multi-functional space to support music, arts, sports and culture for the benefit of the local community.

Angela Smith, chairperson of Enfield Development Group said they were "absolutely thrilled" with the announcement and thanked Meath Council, and particularly Fiona Fallon for her work on the project as well as their local TDs, Senator Shane Cassells and local councillors especially Ronan Moore, Aisling Dempsey, Niamh Souhan and Noel French.

The funding will be a major boost in their vision to bring the hall back into community use, having purchased it three years ago from the Diocese. Among the works required are a whole new heating system, toilets, kitchen and general upgrade.

Angela said: "We bought the hall from the diocese three years ago for a nominal fee with a view to refurbishing it into a community hall for the town. It hadn't been used for years before that. It had failed to get a fire safety certificate and they had to close the doors. Even if it had passed, this wasn't the only problem and it was very run down and needed significant refurbishment to get it into a usable state.

"We started looking at different funding streams and we got a grant from Leader at the start of Covid for our first phase, a retrofit grant of €36,000 to replace windows and the door and pump the cavity with insulation. We also painted the outside."

They also obtained a €14,000 Community Enhancement Programme grant from Meath County Council to repair and paint the entrance walls. These works were completed last April though the new windows are currently boarded up for insurance reasons while the hall is vacant.

"Our next step is to sit down with the Council to agree the body of works that need to happen and then for the Council to prepare the tender. The project was costed three to four years ago and prices have gone up since then. We will need more than this but it is a huge step and we will continue fundraising."

The hall currently has a stage and upstairs meeting rooms. Enfield Development Group intends to keep the stage but also to make the hall as multi purpose as possible.

Meanwhile, work is continuing on the former OPW building which was purchased by Meath County Council in recent years to develop a community and enterprise hub.

"Works has started. It is a six month project so we are hoping that the council will be in a position to open it in quarter three," said Angela.

"Our idea is that the two buildings will complement each other. There will be smaller meeting rooms in the community and enterprise hub and then the bigger sports hall for exercise classes and sports with a performance space."

Enfield Development Group was formed in 2016 to address the need for community facilities in the town. While the group did look at a greenfield site, it was agreed that the most realistic option was to pursue the Parish Hall and the OPW building and work on both projects now advancing.

Meath West TD Damien Enfield said he was "thrilled the people of Enfield and South Meath will soon benefit from a new community facility on the main street following confirmation of €250,000 in funding.

"This is great news for Enfield and builds on much work from Government, the Local Authority and the local community in recent years to provide more community spaces for this growing South Meath town,” he said.

Sinn Féin TD Johnny Guirke also welcomed the news and paid tribute to the EDG committee for their work. "For years, the community of Enfield have had to watch buildings like St Patrick’s Parish Hall left idle as there was no funding available.

“The funding will see the hall get refurbished within the next 12 – 18 months. When this is achieved, it is hoped that the building will become a suitable community hall for both young and old to use at their leisure."