25 Jan 2022

Stunning new activity centre planned for Offaly village

Stunning new activity centre planned for Offaly village

An artist's impression of how the activity centre will look when finished

IT'S an ambitious project for a small village but it is one which the community of Ballycumber has taken to with enthusiasm.

The plan is to provide a new multi purpose Activity Centre in the village and the wheels are already in motion to raise the €200,000 needed to build the facility.

Ballycumber Activity Centre will measure 48 metres long, 18 metres wide and 5 metres high with an astro turf floor to accommodate all kinds of indoor training and games especially in bad weather or during winter months.

Part of the front wall will be mesh to provide plenty of ventilation which is extremely important especially during these Covid times. The other walls will be made of mass concrete and can act as ball walls.

It will be used for training including underage football and hurling. PRO Eamonn Larkin says it can even be utilised for gentler games such as bowls and boccia or exercises like yoga or pilates.

Gym equipment currently located in the community centre can be brought in if needed.

For those less fit, even a walk up and down the facility's 48-metre length and 18-metre width would provide a decent bit of exercise, suggests Eamonn.

The centre will also be available for other events such as meetings, exhibitions, displays or fairs. The possibilities are endless. "We hope it will be in use every day," says Eamonn.

It's expected construction will begin next year and the centre will be ready for use by the end of 2022.

Eamonn believes it won't take too long to build as the big cement slabs will be fitted into steel posts and large steel beams will provide the frame for the roof.

So what about the vital funding? It all kicks off on Saturday, September 11 with what on the surface seems like a mad idea, but which has captured the imagination of local people and is already bringing in substantial sums of money.

It's the Croke Park to Ballycumber walk/run. Eamonn explains that the walk will be divided into 24 sections made up of 5 kilometres each. Various groups will be responsible for finishing each section.

Participants will run or walk along the grand canal greenway. The only part that is not on the greenway is the stretch from Croke Park to the Grand Canal Docks in Dublin. The early part of the event will be undertaken by the club's footballers and hurlers.

Eamonn explains there are 4 Dublin sections. "We have enough people from Ballycumber living in Dublin to cover the stretch from the grand canal greenway to the Lucan road," he added.

The next stretch is from the Lucan road to Hazelhatch. 4 people will be driven to the Lucan road where they will begin their trek. The car will then take off and be in Hazelhatch to meet them and bring them back to Ballycumber. This will continue for most of the day with cars going back and forth until all the sections are complete.

There are 141 participants taking part with drivers on board for each section, for example there are 8 sections in Kildare so "we need 8 drivers and 32 players," said an enthusiastic Eamonn.

For the less fit among the group he recommends a few easier segments which he says are from Cappincur to Tullamore. "There is a lovely section between Daingean and Ballycommon and between Tullamore and Rahan."

The final section is from Rahan to Pullough. "What we are hoping to do there is run a bus from Ballycumber to Rahan drop the walkers in Rahan and let them walk to Pullough where a bus will pick them up and bring them home again in time for the All Ireland Final."

The event will get underway at 9am in Dublin on the morning of September 11 and it's hoped to finish at 5pm that evening where there will be tea and a get together at the community centre.

It has already brought in over €40,000 and the organisers are hoping to raise another €20,000. “Some are able to raise more than others but they are all bringing in a few bob,"he said.

Eamonn is hopeful that the rest of the money will come from sports grants which they are busy applying for.

Eamonn points out that it's not just a Ballycumber GAA project, he said there is cooperation with Brosna Gaels hurling, St Manchan's Gaels Under Age Football, and St Manchan's Ladies Gaelic Football.

"It's a big undertaking for a small place like us. But we are determined to build it. We built the community centre when the country was in recession. So we are hoping we will do this as well," concludes Eamonn.

For those wishing to make a donation or sponsor a participant TAP HERE.

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