HISTORY OF BOOTERSTOWN COMMUNITY CENTRE
Our records indicate that our predecessor organisation (Booterstown Community Council) commenced operating as a voluntary group in Booterstown as early as 1973.
So we have been around and active in Booterstown for quite a while. We look forward to celebrating our first 50 years in operation very soon in 2023!
This group had its origins in representing the local community in raising objections to the planning permission application by First National Building Society (FNBS) to build an office block in Booterstown Avenue. This application required a rezoning from residential to commercial. Trimleston Residents’ Association and subsequently Williamstown Residents’ Association and others objected to this change. Booterstown Ladies Club were also very involved.
It is interesting to note from the records of the Community Council that at the 1984 AGM there were 30 Council Members of whom 11 formed the Executive Committee.
In return for withdrawing their objections to the planning application, FNBS agreed to provide a site for the building of a Community Centre for Booterstown at its Mulcaire site.
While in the early 1980s planning permission was granted for the building of a community centre within the site, problems subsequently emerged as the planning authorities ‘appeared’ not to have taken this into account fully in arriving at density figures for the overall First National development. Attempts were then made to resolve this impasse by finding an alternative location for the Community Centre to be built.
A record of the meeting Niamh Bhreathnach held with FNBS on 7th February, 1986 is interesting.
She advised that “St. Anne’s Hall was not available, the Council had looked at the Butcher’s Shop and rejected it and were currently considering purchasing No. 51 Booterstown Avenue (A large house in flats) with a view to using it as a Community Centre”.
First National were offering £30,000 towards a Community Centre development elsewhere in lieu of their original proposal of a site within their development.
Unfortunately, it became clear in 1987 that efforts to purchase or lease St Anne’s Hall from the Sisters of Mercy would not be successful.
Finally, in December, 1987 Monsignor Jerome Curtin PP of Booterstown wrote to the Secretary Una O’Connor as follows:
“I understand that the Booterstown Community Council wishes to provide for its members and for the wider community a suitable premises, particularly meeting rooms.
To facilitate the provision of Community Services, I have informed the Council that I am willing to sell to them the yard at the back of the Booterstown Parish Youth Club, situated at Grotto Avenue, Rock Road.”
This culminated in the issue by the Dublin Diocese (St Laurence O’Toole Diocesan Trust) of a 150 year lease from 1st May 1989 to Booterstown Community Centre limited (a company limited by guarantee set up for this purpose in 1988). The site was valued at £15,000 but it was offered to the community by Monsignor Curtin for a payment of £5,000 on the understanding that “the premises would not be used for any purpose other than for promoting a spirit of Christian community and in consequence providing cultural, educational, recreational, religious and social activities and services for the benefit of the Community in the Village and district of Booterstown”.
. . . . . . . and so, after spending sixteen years seeking a suitable premises closer to the centre of Booterstown, we accepted the generous offer of a site for a community centre in Grotto Avenue.
Local architect, Derek Kilfeather of Kilfeather Associates, drew up plans free of charge. Fás was engaged to do the work and the building was begun in May 1989.
In 1987 Booterstown Community Council had formalised its Constitution document (“Mark 3”). This changed the name of the Council to BOOTERSTOWN COMMUNITY CENTRE COUNCIL.
The objects were stated as:
The Council which is established for charitable purposes shall have the following objects
- To set up and control a Community Centre in the Booterstown (Co Dublin) area
- To foster for the general welfare of the residents of the booterstown area suitable social, recreational, cultural, educational, health and leisure activities.
From 1980 the Community Centre Council held its meetings and activities in the St Anne’s Hall facility (now demolished) provided by the Sisters of Mercy in Booterstown Avenue. In her letter of resignation of 10th May 1999 the late Millie Cole tells us that “the years here were productive in almost every way due not least, to the dedication and interest of Brendan Madigan. Friday nights here were community nights and included social evenings, card sessions, bingo and Irish nights as well as talks and lectures on such matters as local history and gardening”. The very successful Booterstown Drama Group was formed in these years also and produced three plays.
Subsequently the meetings moved to facilities provided by the Dominican sisters in Sion Hill. It was at meetings in Sion Hill that the highly successful series of School Debates was established and around this time also the Annual Art Exhibition was started by Rosemary Madigan with the support of Sr Maureen O.P.
Finally, the first introductory Public Meeting in Booterstown Community Centre appears to have taken place in the new building in Grotto Avenue on 26th November 1990. While the structural work was complete, Electricity, Plumbing, Heating, Fittings and Furnishings remained to be installed!
. . . . . . . to be continued . . . . . . .