Council Briefs: A New Clubhouse for Raheny Shamrock Athletic, and a Revamp for the Coolock Swimming Pool

In Raheny, a Step Towards a New Clubhouse

Raheny Shamrock Athletic Club is gearing up to build a new 6,000 sq ft clubhouse, as local councillors backed plans last week for Dublin City Council to rent a site to the club on which to build the new facility.

The club was founded in 1958 and includes Olympians among its 600 members.

At a meeting of the council’s North Central Area Committee on 18 October, councillors supported an arrangement for the council to lease a 0.3 acre site – which is on All Saints Drive behind the Cara Hall community centre, near St Anne’s Park – to the club for between €3,000 and €5,000 a year.

Estimated market value of the annual rent for that piece of land is €30,000, says a report to councillors.

The club will get a discount as long as the facility is only used for sports, community and recreational purposes, says the report, and it will be down to Raheny Shamrock Athletic Club to fund the development of the clubhouse and get planning permission for it.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Deirdre Heney said by phone on Tuesday that local councillors unanimously supported the plans, which will also need to be agreed by the full council.

“The club has been around a long time,” says Fine Gael Councillor Naoise Ó Muirí, “Their current facilities are really poor.”

Councillors have been in contact with the club for years and it approached them with a well-developed plan, says Heney. “I’m very supportive of Raheny Shamrocks. They provide an amazing amenity for young and old in the Raheny district.”

Dick Hooper of Raheny Shamrock Athletic Club gave a presentation to councillors last February of their proposal to build the clubhouse, complete with a sports hall, gym, separate male and female changing facilities with showers and toilets, an office, meeting room, kitchens and storage facilities.

The land is close to where the athletes train in St Anne’s Park and near the local soccer and GAA club. “We need a social space as much as we need a facility,” Hooper said in February.

The Future of Coolock Pool

Dublin City Council has set aside €845,000 to revamp its Coolock Swimming Pool, councillors learnt at a recent meeting.

“The good news is we have secured the funding,” said the swimming pool inspector, Gerard Carty, at a meeting of the council’s North Central Area Committee on 18 October.

As soon as refurb works underway at the Sean McDermott Street Swimming Pool in the north inner-city are completed, the Coolock pool is next in line, he says.

The Coolock pool is used for children and adults to learn to swim, swimming clubs, water polo, synchronised swimming, he said, and “ a great array and variety of groups are getting use out of the pool”.

Several councillors said they are still concerned that the swimming pool is very rarely open for public swimming sessions.

A pool timetable shows it is used by a variety of groups, but is only open to the public between 10am and 2pm on Saturdays.

Independent Councillor John Lyons asked what could be done to ensure that the pool was open to the public more. “What steps do we need to take for that to happen?”

A new manager has recently joined the team, says Carty. But a problem they have is getting staff, he says. “We are working on that at the moment.”

It takes four staff members to run a public swim, he says, including someone to take the money, a cleaner and the lifeguards.

But lifeguards are in short supply since Covid-19, says Carty. The council got far fewer applications for relief lifeguards last year partially, he says, because the Pandemic Unemployment Payment made part-time work unattractive.

“We had to fill those hours with clubs so that the pool was being used,” says Carty.

The learning to swim groups “dominate the timetable”, said the Lord Mayor, Labour Party Councillor Alison Gilliland.

“So many people have said to me that they would love to use the local pool but there are just no public swim hours,” she said.

If children learn to swim, they need somewhere to practise those skills also, she said.

The learn-to-swim group brings its own instructors so not as many pool staff are needed, said Carty.

Fine Gael Councillor Terence Flanagan said that most of the schools using the pool are not local schools and he would like to see an effort made to engage local children in swimming.

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