– Community Finance Ireland delivers €4.87 million in support of Dublin communities since 2016 –
Fifty years since the people of Glenasmole took it upon themselves to build a community hub in the local area, Glenasmole Community Association (GCA) is preparing to reopen the doors of the newly renovated community centre. The community-owned building has undergone major refurbishment over the past two years with the support of Community Finance Ireland (CFI).
GCA board member and project manager, John Lee said the newly expanded community space will serve generations to come:
“Our ambition with this refurbishment project was to create a space which will serve young and old and everyone in between from our local area. We’re a small community here and this centre has been at the heart of it for decades but the building itself just hasn’t been fit for purpose. The original hall is now extended to include a kitchen space and meeting rooms, with underfloor heating and full disability access. It’s been a huge project for us but all the work will be worthwhile when we can open the doors to this new warm, inviting space to everyone.”
After being awarded a Dublin Rural LEADER grant and funding by South Dublin County Council for the planned refurbishments, Glenasmole Community Association approached Community Finance Ireland in 2020 to provide a bridging loan of €292,000 to undertake the works.
John says the bridging loan from CFI brought their dream to reality:
“If it wasn’t for Community Finance Ireland, we wouldn’t be here today. I’m a retired quantity surveyor and I’ve managed building works and budgets my whole career but for our group here – who are all volunteers – the sums we were looking at to get this off the ground were daunting. Because they support volunteer and community groups, CFI didn’t ask us for personal guarantees, and just talking to their team eased the financial fears. Nothing felt unsurmountable after that.”
Visiting the site ahead of completion, Barry Symes, Head of Community Finance ROI, congratulated John and the GCA team on the project’s success. He said:
“At CFI we talk about changemakers – the people in local communities who see an opportunity to create something and go for it. Glenasmole Community Association are the epitome of changemakers from the day they set out to build the original centre from scratch. We’re delighted to have supported GCA in this project and I have no doubt that they’ve created something which will serve the community for their next fifty years and beyond.”
Located just ten miles from O’Connell Street, Glenasmole is a small, rural community in the Dublin mountains. In 1972, the newly formed GCA purchased and erected a second-hand, pre-cast concrete pavilion, completing ancillary works in 1974. Built and run entirely by volunteers, the community hall became a hub for all generations, providing a much-needed space for Mother and Baby Groups, Youth Clubs, Drama Group productions, as well as a HSE-funded Health Clinic.
With the building works almost complete, the GCA has their sights set on the surrounding areas with plans to develop walkways and biodiverse landscapes in a 5-acre plot that has been purchased for community-ownership.
“There are people who grew up in Glenasmole and spent their childhood running wild in the mountains, who have moved away and now bring their own kids back to visit – we want them to think of this centre as their home too, to meet and reconnect with the community and the beautiful surroundings we have here.”