SOCIAL Development Minister Nelson McCausland visited Brackagh Hall, Maghera last Thursday to officially open the modern sports facilities at the hall.
The Minister was welcomed to the hall in Brackaghreilly, just outside Maghera town by a performance from local Irish dancers and was given a tour of the hall’s facilities.
Brackaghreilly Community and District Association received almost £89,000 from the department’s Modernisation Fund Capital Programme to increase services to the local community with an emphasis on sports and accessibility for all. This went towards top range gym equipment, a strengthened hall floor for sports activities, installation of a lift and laying of tarmac outside.
Speaking at the official opening Minister McCausland said: “I am pleased to visit the refurbished Brackaghreilly Community Hall to see how the new facilities are being used to benefit local people in and around Brackaghreilly. The Modernisation Fund has been very successful in helping voluntary and community organisations to offer new and better services to the community and to become more sustainable.”
Danny Gallagher, Chairman of the Brackaghreilly Community Association while paying tribute to the fundraising of the local community said: “Without DSD Modernisation Fund support, the hall would not have been able to offer the range of facilities it now can. We are very grateful and appreciative to Minister McCausland and DSD for this wonderful opportunity to make a social impact on the local community.”
The hall has a rich history within the community, believed to have been built in the around the turn of the nineteenth century, it was a social hub for the rural community. Monthly ceilidhs there were extremely popular and were always packed and local stars such as Philomena Begley and Bridie Gallagher graced the stage in its heyday.
Danny Gallagher said: “It was the best hall in the country when our forefathers built it and I wanted to see it back at its former glory. It was a landmark in the 1900s and would have been a disgrace not to make it that again.”
It was reopened in 1966 after the toilet facilities were renovated, until it was deemed no longer fit for purpose. The local community began to campaign and fundraise to rebuild the hall, their efforts coming to fruition in 2008 when building was finished on the modern three-storey building.
As well as the gym equipment and sports hall, the new hall building runs Irish dancing, card games and circuits regularly at Brackagh Hall as well as other events.
The Committee passed their thanks on to Canavan Contractors, Ballyronan and Carolyne Murphy at Cooperation Ireland for all their help.