Eden Hall re-opens after major renovation work

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EDEN Orange Hall was built in 1902, underwent an extension in the early 1950s and was re-roofed in the early 1980s. It had also to undergo major repairs after repeated attacks over the years.

By the end of the first decade of this century it was no longer fit for purpose. The toilet block was overgrown and unusable, the building lacked running water and electricity, until just last year it was one of the last buildings in the area still reliant on gas lighting. Nor was there any heating, except for an old fireplace and a few mobile gas heaters. The users of the hall: Eden L.O.L. 2028, Eden Accordion Band and Eden Accordion band and Concert Music Society, were faced with the options of either closing up the hall for good or seeking grant aid to restore and extend the building to make it fit for use. We chose the latter.

The hall user groups came together and formed a joint committee under Eden Accordion band & Concert Music Society to undertake the work of seeking grant funding from the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) through the Rural Development Council (RDC). This required us to undergo training on maximising community space throughout the winter months in our chilly old hall – a sobering reminder, if we needed one, of how much the building required an overhaul. We spent much time considering how our hall should be used after the renovations, because like many others in our position we wanted the hall to be used much more frequently by all the people in the community, but we did not want to detract from the hall’s history or alienate its core users. Our neighbour kindly gave us land to build on and our extensive application for £50,000 funding from the IFI was completed and approved, so by the summer of 2011 we were ready to commence works. This project is funded by the International Fund for Ireland under the Maximising Community Space Crossing Borders Programme managed by the RDC.

These works involved building an extension onto the hall that gave us a kitchen and a toilet equipped for all users. This also enabled us to add an emergency exit. Electricity was connected for the first time and a water supply was also established. Heaters were installed, along with a wood-burning stove and some improvements were carried out in the grounds as well. A further grant was sought to allow the band to purchase new fixtures and fittings for the building, including tables and chairs, kitchen and bathroom goods as well as computer and projection equipment so the hall can be used for a wider range of activities. This £10,000 grant came from Awards for All.

Besides our grant funding, we are indebted to the kindness of our members, friends and neighbours, who gave so generously of their money, time and resources to help us complete our project and give the people in our area a modernised facility that they can be proud of. Interest in the progress of the hall was clearly in evidence at our re-opening events as the building was filled to capacity and many took the opportunity to see for themselves the work that had been done. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the hall for many years to come as it is restored as a focal point for the community.

The re-opening took place on Thursday June 14. Victor Getty welcomed guests and visitors to the hall and invited Harry Armstrong to perform the official re-opening and provide a potted history of the hall and notable events. Olga Gallagher (RDC) presented a plaque to be affixed to the hall and also gave certificates to various committee members to recognize their training on cross community activities.

Certificates were presented to Victor Getty, Matthew Stewart, Jennifer Speer, Claire Quigley and Noel Stewart. The hall committee were very much supported by councillors Anne Forde, George Shields and Cross Community Representative Sean Henry.

Each of whom took the opportunity to say a few words of support and congratulations to the hall committee and all who took part. Victor then handed over to the compere for the evening William Knox. William then introduced a number of local acts who provided excellent entertainment to the audience for the evening. These were in order of appearance Eden Accordion Group, Nicola Convery (Irish Dancer), Redeemed (Gospel Group), Eden Singers and William Knox also added some light hearted comedy.

The evening concluded with the hall committee providing a light supper to a packed hall and a vote of thanks to everyone who helped in any way throughout the whole project. The band look forward to the hall being utilised to the fullest extent by the whole community, particularly the local community.