Drumcondra residents fight to save ‘invaluable’ Corpus Christi parish hall

Gary Ibbotson 04 May 2022

Drumcondra residents and the Friends of Corpus Christi Hall Campaign group recently organised a “Save the Hall” fun day on the grounds of the Corpus Christi parish hall and church to showcase the importance of the amenity to the area.

The group says that the turn out at the fun day proved “unequivocally” that the Drumcondra community “needs a safe and familiar space to accommodate diverse community needs for young and old.”

The Corpus Christi parish hall on Home Farm Road is the only community centre in the area and has been used by locals for more than 60 years.

However, the hall closed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and apart from the Montessori school, local groups were not permitted to return to the centre when restrictions were lifted.

The Montessori Children’s Academy, which has been operating from the hall for 28 years, will also have to leave the premises at the end of the school year after losing a court action.

A statement issued by the Archdiocese of Dublin on behalf of Corpus Christi parish said the hall was being closed due to fire safety concerns.

“The property was reviewed on behalf of the parish by two separate fire safety experts who found that the property presented a fire safety risk and was unsuitable for childcare,” it said last year.

However, the Friends of Corpus Christi Hall Campaign group, which was formed in January, said that it and other services “have continually made representations to the Church regarding raising funds to address any works required.”

The group says that the archdiocese has not agreed to talk to representatives regarding fundraising and says that the hall is not for sale.

However, as part of the Dublin City Development Plan consultation, the archdiocese applied to Dublin City Council to rezone Corpus Christi, and 32 other church grounds to allow for the construction of homes.

Since its opening, the hall has “proved an invaluable asset to the community,” the group says.

“Helping to form the character of that community in giving rise to activities such as ballroom dancing, Music and Choral Society, Irish Dancing Academy, the 127th Scout Group, Ladies Club, and a quality and affordable childcare service.

“In recent years the hall has been home to mother and toddler groups, community safety forums, Zumba classes, ballet, breastfeeding, line-dancing and yoga and is regularly used by Corpus Christi Girls National School for physical education (now in temporary accommodation), assemblies, Confirmation and Communion receptions.”

Locals say that the closure of the hall has stemmed the integration and growth of new communities in the area, as well as forcing various groups to scramble and find a new home.

“The hall was a fantastic resource for the national school, it meant the girls could get some exercise rain, hail or shine,” Pat Farrell, a local parent said.

“We all know the importance of keeping kids engaged in sport so the loss of the hall is a big problem for the school.”

Colette Sweetman, a member of Drumcondra Ladies Club says that due to the closure many people “have lost touch” with each other “which is a shame, especially after a time where many people were isolating for long periods.”

Friends of Corpus Christi Hall Campaign says that it “has been engaging both with the Church and the community to discuss the issue of the closure of the hall.”

“As a group, Friends of Corpus Christi are committed to working with the Church and other agencies as appropriate to retain the hall for the community so it can continue to be a thriving one,” it says.

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