Pictured celebrating KDA's 40th birthday were l. to r. Cllr John Leahy, Yvonne Martin, Seamus Barron, Deirdre Regan and Declan Costello.
Kilcormac Development Association celebrated 40 years of working hard on behalf of the local community, during an event in St Joseph's Community Centre on Wednesday evening last, May 25th.
A good-sized gathering came together for the celebration which included a mass, a couple of short speeches, a cake cutting, and live music provided by the Buckleys.
The mass was celebrated in the Centre by Fr Michael Walsh, PP, who said the KDA was a wonderful group and was driven by community spirit. He said love of your community and participating in the life of a community were very important things.
The Chairperson of KDA, Cllr John Leahy, welcomed everyone to the 40th birthday celebration of the group's founding.
He said there are many people from the last four decades who could be named but he wasn't going to do that as it's a potentially dangerous activity! “I could get into trouble if I left anyone out!”
Cllr Leahy pointed out that forty years ago a group of community activists came together and created KDA.
“Since then, because of the group's work, joy and entertainment has been provided to thousands of people.”
The first Chairperson was the late John Flynn and their first task was to restore the old Georgian building on the site. Then they set about building St Joseph's Community Centre.
The centre has been the focal point for countless community activities over the decades, including occasions of mourning as well as celebration.
Further development on the site came some years ago when the KDA provided land for the building of a Community Childcare facility.
A couple of people are now working on site in a professional capacity, including Jean Donnelly (the Community Employment scheme Supervisor) and Linda Kelly (who is manager of the Community Centre and is currently driving forward a tourism venture involving the village and Lough Boora).
Community Services currently provided by the KDA include Meals on Wheels, First Responders, Vision for Kilcormac, Parent & Toddler Group, Lotto, Croí Óg, Loch an Dóchais, Walking Club, Office Rental, Social Services for the elderly, after funeral services, St Patrick's Day Parade, Management of Website, The Rambler Newsletter, Tea Rooms, Hall Hire, Meeting Rooms, Badminton, Bingo, Community Gym, and Kilcormac Community Childcare.
St Joseph's Community Centre offers groups the opportunity for hiring the hall for indoor sports, parties, craft fairs, and stage plays. Office services offered include photocopying, faxing, poster and ticket design, printing and booklets.
Cllr Leahy said KDA was set up on May 24, 1982 as a not-for-profit organisation that generates income to distribute back into community projects.
He said the KDA has a Voluntary Board who meet on a monthly basis. There are five employees connected with the group. The group is also the main sponsor for the CE Scheme in the area, which is employing 25 people.
The inaugural meeting of KDA took place in the Fiesta Ballroom in the village. The meeting was chaired by the late Tom Feighery (who was a councillor in Offaly County Council for many years). The officers and committee elected on that occasion were John Flynn, as Chairman, Ernest De Vito, Vice Chairman, Paul Curry, Secretary, Ger Nolan, Assistant Secretary, Dr Jimmy Lee and Tim Sweeney, Joint Treasurers. The committee elected were Tom Feighery, Brian Sullivan, Jerry Mahon, Des Sweeney, John Nolan, John Keane, Seán Doyle, Brendan Marsh, Cormac Carroll, Tom Foley, Paddy Daly, Seamus Barron, John Barret and Teesa Screeney.
The feasibility of using St Joseph's as a focal point for a community centre complex was first discussed early in 1982 at an informal meeting between Ger Nolan, Teresa Screeney and Tom Feighery. Following its inauguration the KDA took up the challenge. A major fundraising campaign was planned and on the first Friday of November 1982 the Silver Circle Draw got underway in the old Billiard Hall. Following the purchase of St Joseph's, McCarthy & O'Hora, Architects, were employed to design the complex.
Following almost three years of planning and fundraising, work commenced on the site on Tuesday 15th October, 1985 with £28,000 in the bank. The late Rev Tom Mullen, PP, blessed the site and, praying for those who would work there, ceremoniously turned the first sod. Many fundraising events were held in the following months and years to raise the necessary capital to pay for the project.
Cllr Leahy said over the years hundreds of people have been trained in the centre and went on to get jobs.
The Community Employment Scheme is a very important scheme, he said.
He said it feels as if the spirit of volunteerism is not as strong as it once was in Ireland. He hoped that this spirit will get stronger, as it's invaluable. “Our voluntary board continues to be inspired by those who came before us. We try to bring the same enthusiasm and energy to the task in hand as they did. KDA has much to be proud of and community groups come to us for advice for running things, such as meals on wheels.”
The members of the Board then cut the cake.
Danny Guinan sang “Bring Flowers of the Rarest” - “O Mary! We crown thee with blossoms today, Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May, O Mary! We crown thee with blossoms today, Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.”
Cllr Leahy thanked Martina Troy for providing the refreshments and Paddy and Michael Buckley for playing some fantastic music.
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