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24 Jan 2022

From dance to decarbonisation - Detailed plans unveiled for iconic Offaly building

From dance to decarbonisation - Detailed plans unveiled for iconic Offaly building

From dance to decarbonisation - Detailed plans unveiled for iconic Offaly building

OFFALY is on the way to leading from the centre on Climate Action with the exciting announcement of a Green Headquarters for the county in the former ballroom in Kilcormac.

Offaly Local Development Company has secured over €1.2 million from the Just Transition Fund and the Trench Trust for the Development of a Green HQ - Climate Action and Green Enterprise Centre for Offaly. The fund will see the historic Fiesta Ballroom renovated in alignment with green building principles and powered by renewable energy. The Design Team appointed for this project are Gaia Ecotecture led by Environmental Architect Sally Starbuck, BA BArch (Hons) MRIAI RIBA.

A Rich History
The Fiesta Hall has long been an important focus for community recreation in Kilcormac and surrounding areas - for dance, bingo, film and public meetings. After the Ballyboy fire in 1967 an important public meeting took place which decided to launch a national campaign that saved two local farmers from losing their farms.

A New Purpose
Offaly Local Development Company in collaboration with Green Offaly, and the Trench Trust, whose purchase of the building has enabled this project to come to be initiated, will now refurbish and repurpose the hall as the headquarters for Green Offaly.

Merging the Past with the Future
Much of the raked cinema seating will be retained as a lecture room with projection facilities for films and courses, and with breakout rooms for small groups. A large area of the dance floor will be retained as a multi use social and community space which can also host exhibitions and demonstrations. The foyer will be repurposed as a cafe that will spill out onto the forecourt between the hall and the road, linking the building to the town. All of this will take time and the conversion may have to be achieved in phases in order to work within the strict budget criteria. As much as possible of the building will be conserved and the equipment in the projection room will be retained in an exhibition of the building’s history.

Evolving the legacy of our Peatland Communities
Fiesta will be the place where people and the planet connect. Occupying a central position within Offaly, the Fiesta Building will see Kilcormac become the heart of a Green Regeneration Strategy which aims to benefit our Peatland Communities environmentally, economically and socially. Kilcormac and the Fiesta, once the hub for Bord na Móna workers and their families will now become the flagship for renewal as our Peatland landscape becomes one of the most important in Europe for mitigating the effects of Climate Change.

Green HQ for Offaly
The Fiesta will serve as the headquarters for GO Sustainable Development Trust t/a Green Offaly. Green Offaly is a not for profit countywide green regeneration enterprise operating as a Development Trust. It is the first county-wide not-for-profit Development Trust to be established in the country to assist communities through the transition to a greener and more sustainable future. Green Offaly began life as an Offaly Public Participation Network, Environmental Pillar initiative. In collaboration with Offaly PPN, Offaly Local Development Company, Community Power and ECO-UNESCO, Green Offaly has already embarked on a number of projects of which the Fiesta Hall will become the flagship. Incorporated in September 2020 the Trust has been established in direct response to the Government’s Project 2040 seminar, 'Empowering Communities in the Fight against Climate Change’. See www.greenoffaly.ie

Transitioning through the Challenges of Climate Change
The transition to a sustainable future will not be achieved without the buy-in of our citizens - the Communities that make up the social and economic fabric of our country. This is especially true for the Communities of Offaly who find themselves on the frontline of this transition due to our 21% Peatland land bank and vast agricultural heritage. The conversion of the Fiesta Hall to a 21st Century Green Building will offer an extensive opportunity to capitalize on the coming changes offering multi use, income generating potential and aligning to local and regional development plans.

Programmes delivered from Green HQ
The Fiesta is in close proximity to the current and future eco tourism and green business markets which are set to be generated from the rehabilitation and repurposing of the peatlands. Fiesta - Green HQ will deliver on Climate Action and will support the creation of new business for the county via the following strands: Green Enterprise hub including a lecture theatre, conference facilities and fixed and remote working space. Training, Education & Research programmes in green skills, sustainability, climate change and community regeneration. Community and visitor facilities will include a coffee house, dance space, workshops, events and exhibitions.

Unprecedented Partnership working
This project has been made possible by an unprecedented level of partnership working. Offaly Local Development Company would like to thank the Trench Trust for their invaluable support in enabling this project to happen. Other key partnerships who have given their time, guidance and support to this project are Green Offaly, Offaly Public Participation Network, Kilcormac Development Association, Kilcormac Economic Development Group, Kilcormac Planning Group (facilitated by OLDC) and Community Power.

A New Phoenix
Kilcormac has long been at the centre of Offaly’s peat industry and has been one of the towns worst hit by the closing down of peat harvesting. Harry Potter fans will be familiar with Professor Dumbledore’s beautiful red pet Phoenix rising from the ashes in his study. What better place than Kilcormac for a new, Green Phoenix to arise from the brown peat of our bogs?

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