In 1960 Claremorris had no amenity centre or clubrooms where organisations could meet and have functions as the old Parochial Hall could not be used. At this time also, efforts were being made by the community to develop the town industrially and commercially. The provision of amenities and recreation facilities was considered to be essential for the town development and to make it a more attractive place to live in.
The need for a Town Hall was discussed at many public meetings; a New Town Hall would provide the facilities for fundraising to provide amenities.
In 1962 the community, aware of the need for a Town Hall, held a public meeting in the Boys' National School and a fundraising committee was elected to build a new Town Hall. The old Hall was demolished and a town collection raised £4000. A Parish bequest of £5000 was also made available and 40 Guarantors gave guarantees of £250 each for a bank overdraft. At that stage it was decided to build the New Town Hall for the community at a cost of £40,000. The New Town Hall was officially opened on 10th June 1969 with an outstanding debt of £20,000, there were no grants available at that time.
At that time there was a great community spirit prevailing and men and women gave their time voluntarily to supervise dances and other activities in the Town Hall and a full time caretaker and part-time Manager were employed.
The 40 guarantors elected a management committee until the bank overdraft was paid and afterwards the 352 subscribers (those who subscribed to the original fund raising collection) met annually to elect Trustees. These Trustees are the Management Committee, which meets regularly to administer the affairs of the Town Hall. An AGM of Town Hall Guarantors and Subscribers has been held each year in accordance with the Trustee Rules since the Town Hall was built in 1969. All Subscribers to the Town Hall have been notified each year by post or Church Newsletter and Newspaper Notice about the AGM.
The Trustees were aware that there were many additional families in the Parish since 1969 so members of the community were invited to become subscribers to the Town Hall in 1992.
The Town Hall was erected to provide facilities for clubs and organisations and to cater for the recreational and entertainment needs of the community. The Town Hall has been used by the community for Plays, Concerts, Musical Shows, Exhibitions, Ballet, Operettas, Dances, Bingo etc. Clubs and organisation use the meeting rooms and Auditorium for social events. There were very large attendances at dances, which were held every Sunday night for a period of 10 years after the Town Hall was built. The Town Hall was one of the most popular centres for dancing in the West of Ireland at that time.
At present the Town Hall is used for Parish Socials, Bingo, Card Games, Karate, Ceili, Country Markets, Exhibitions, Snooker, Bingo Scouts and Foroige Club meetings, Drama etc. In the meeting rooms there are Adult education, Computer, Drama, Ballet and Dancing classes.
Venue Information - Claremorris Town Hall
As early as 1971 financial grants were being made to clubs. Clubs have received £130,0000 in grants over the years. Repayable loans have also been made available to clubs. Some of the clubs and groups receiving the grants were: Arts, Badminton, Barnacarrol Complex, Bord na nOg, GAA, Golf, Handball, Playground, Red Cross, Swimming, Athletics.
The benefits of the Town Hall to the community have been substantial and the town has recreational and sporting amenities, which would not be possible without the financial assistance from the Town Hall. Our town should be proud to have a facility that has served the community so well over the years.
After an unprecedented period of activity and income from dances up to 1980, there began a new era of socialising with the introduction of the “Singing Pub”. The Town Hall was a dry venue (without a licence to sell intoxicating liquor) and could not compete with the new attractions. The Town Hall income was greatly reduced by this change, but because it provides all the facilities required by clubs and organisations it has continued to function well despite the absence of a serious marketing strategy.
The notice below inviting proposals from the Community to promote greater use of the Town Hall was published in the Church Newsletter on 12/11/2000
“Town Hall Business Project: since the Town Hall was built in 1969, it has been used by the community for dances, discos, socials, plays, concerts, bingo, exhibitions and may other activities. In recent years there has been a decline in the use of the Town Hall for these activities and the Town Hall committee wishes to provide entertainment and other facilities to cater for the needs of the community. Some clubs and organisations have expressed interest in organising events in the Town Hall to provide funding for their own organisations.
The Town Hall Committee is now inviting other groups, who may be interested in this arrangement to send their proposals and business plans to the Secretary, Town Hall Committee. A joint venture between clubs and the Town Hall Committee could be very rewarding and will also maintain entertainment and social facilities in the Town Hall on behalf of the community. This could be a valuable opportunity for clubs and organisations to raise funds. All proposals will be very welcome and will be considered fully”
From this notice there has been a proposal to form a club for Adult Discos but this has not been pursued.
Students from Sligo IT conducted a Marketing Study; the notice below to inform the community was published in the church Newsletter on 17/2/2002
“Town Hall Development Project: - Students from the Institute of Technology, Sligo, are conducting a Marketing Study on behalf of the Town Hall Trustees. Students will visit the town for a survey and a questionnaire will be circulated in Claremorris and District to establish the needs and uses of the Town Hall by the community. The information will help to plan facilities at the Town Hall for the real needs of our community in entertainment, recreation, adult education etc. Your co-operation will be appreciated and any assistance or suggestions with the project should be sent to the Secretary, Michael J Reidy at (094) 71270.” We are waiting for the results of this study.
There is a very strong competition in all areas of entertainment and to continue to be viable more has to be done to promote the Town Hall facilities.
Our Caretaker is engaged under a FAS Community Employment Scheme sponsored by Clár IRD. He works 20 hours per week. This is not adequate for the workload in the Town Hall at present. The Town Hall could not function without this service. We must now concentrate on generating income and additional funds to employ a full-time caretaker
The Hon Secretary has to do the normal bookwork associated with any small business. A diary of bookings has to be kept, rent for bookings has to be collected and lodged into our bank account, plus the normal secretarial work of convening meetings and recording minutes. It may involve two visits to the Town Hall per day during busy periods.
It also involves management of daily maintenance and minor repairs and improvement works, meeting with groups, who wish to book the Town Hall.
The Town Hall is booked regularly for Bingo, Card Games, Karate, Foroige Club, Boy Scouts, Computer Courses, Drama Festival, School Musicals, School Table Quiz, Feis, Craft Fair, Ballet, Ceili Dancing and Club Meetings and Country Markets.