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40th Anniversary Celebrations

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Over St. Patrick’s weekend celebrations took place at Corduff Raferagh Community Centre to mark the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Community Centre and the 20th anniversary of the Mountain Dew Bar.  A number of other milestones were celebrated during the festivities.

On St. Patrick’s night, the monthly Trad session attracted some of the regular attendees and some new musicians, dancers and singers and two gentlemen who delivered recitations.  The session coincided with the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Mountain Dew on St. Patrick’s night 2003.  It also coincided with the 15th anniversary since the monthly Trad Sessions started and instigator Peter Brennan was presented with Appreciation Awards from Carrickmacross Comholtas and Corduff Raferagh Community Association.  The session was a wonderful kick off to the celebrations with all present enjoying the entertainment, craic and finger food.

Then on Saturday night, the 40th anniversary celebration took place in the main hall with dinner served, followed by speeches and presentations and the night finished off with dancing into the wee hours.  The hall was decorated beautifully by Pauline Reilly, Agnese Avotina, Betty Lambe, Joanne and Anthony Marron, committee members and volunteers.  A video was on display as everyone gathered for the event.  It was captured by Peter Byrne, in the early years of the millennium recording the major renovations to the building at that time.

In his opening speech, Lorcan Hand, Chairperson of the Community Association welcomed everyone to the event.  After the delicious food prepared and served by Aidan Fitzpatrick catering, Bernie Ruth gave an overview of the major milestones in the building’s history along with milestones that many groups who use the facilities have reached.  Bernie used a photographic presentation which Bernadette Byrne exhibited on the AV screen.  Using information from Peadar Marron’s article in the original Corduff Calling book when researching the early history of the building, Bernie said it demonstrated the importance of writing down and preserving this type of information.  It was in the mid-1970s that community facilities were first discussed in the area, when a group of locals came together to form the first Corduff Sports committee.  Buying a field or site would involve fundraising, so in 1975 a monthly draw was organised with about 150 subscribers, taking in about £75 per month, but by 1977 it ended as no suitable property was available.

In 1979 Tommy McKeown’s land went up for sale and Tommy Marron, Gene Marron and J.J. McEnaney consulted with the Parish Priest about the possibilities of purchasing the land for a school and community facilities.  Thankfully the Diocesan Trust purchased the land and as they say the rest is history.

Corduff Raferagh Community Council was formed at a General Meeting on Monday 26th October 1980 in Corduff NS.  Officers elected were Fr. Peter McGuinness, Peadar Marron, J.J. McEneaney, Gene Marron, Tom McEnaney, Frank Smith, P.J. Callan and George McKitterick.  The group started with a bank balance of £2,400 raised in the 1970s through the monthly draw.  Fundraising began earnestly with a house to house collection, followed by collections in the local towns and donations from many exiles.  Within three months £10,000 was raised.

After the ditches were removed from the McKeown family farm by voluntary labour, the McCabe Brothers contractors moved in to level the playing field in February 1981.  By August Larry Callan, Corbane sowed the grass seed.  Fr. McGuinness’s Ford Fiesta fundraiser started in June 1981 with ticket sellers visiting twenty-four counties between June and November of that year.  Profit from the fundraiser came to £11,500 and it was won by local man Peter Larkin, Corcreagh.

Work commenced on the building when Jim Byrne, from Greagh started making the steel frame for the Community Centre under flood lights in the upper Church car-park and the entrance to the site was made on Saturday 24th October 1981.

In February 1982 welcome news was received that a grant of £50,000 was approved and the Community Council also negotiated a deal with the North Eastern Health Board for the inclusion of a Health Centre within the building, which was worth £6,000 plus a weekly rent.

The contract for the Community Centre went to local contractor, John King, Ouvry.  Over the June bank holiday weekend in 1982 the roof was put on by voluntary labour led by Jim Byrne.  Shortly afterwards work commenced on the building itself and by Christmas 1982 the contract was almost complete and again voluntary labour assisted in the painting and decorating of the building.

Fundraisers from the early years included the Monthly Draw, Ford Fiesta tickets, a monster auction held in Corduff NS, Plunket Corrigan’s sponsorship for running in the Dublin City Marathon which raised a staggering £1,000, there were also dances, concerts, sponsored cycles, bazaars, raffles and the Lord Mayor Campaign.

On Thursday 10th February 1983 Fr. Peter McGuinness celebrated Mass in the Community Centre.  The following day, 11th February 1983 exactly one year to the day since the government grant notification came through, the Community Centre was opened.  Entertainment was provided by the local Comhaltas Group, supper was served and later a dance took place with music by the Avengers.

The official opening of the football pitch and Community Centre took place on Sunday 28th May 1983.

Many new groups and clubs formed as a result of the opening of the Community Centre – most notably the bowls club and handball club who are resident since 1984.  The Ceili Club which was formed in 1976 initially held its practices and Ceili’s in Raferagh Hall, but on the opening of the Community Centre the club moved to the Centre and is still going strong 47 years later.  The Centre also provides a permanent home for the Pipers who are regulars over the past 40 years, and who celebrated the 100th year of their formation in 2017.  Other groups that were set up in the early days include the Youth Club, Badminton club etc

The new facilities were busy for a number of years, and well maintained by the Community Council and the caretaker Jim Marron, but like all buildings upgrades were needed.  Around the time of the millennium, a community survey was carried out in the area to gather information on the needs and requirements of the parishioners from the Community Centre building for the future – the top requests were Pre and After School services, a bar and updated catering facilities.

Plans were drawn up, the contract was awarded to Philip Marron of Corduff Construction and work commenced.  As well as the extension at the front of the building, which would house the new Pre School facilities, the Mountain Dew and the new industrial kitchen, at the same time, the original building underwent major renovations, the void above the handball alley was floored providing two rooms – the heritage room and meeting room.  This was an extensive refurb to the building.  These renovations contributed to the creation of Bright Sparks and the Mountain Dew who now celebrate their 20th anniversary.   It provided a home for the Heritage Group, now 23 years in existence.  And the upgrades were fundamental in the formation of the wonderful Active Retirement Group who are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year.  The updated building was officially opened by President of Ireland, Mary McAleese on 1st December 2005.

Over ten years later, the building needed further enhancement, repair and updating and once again work began in 2016.  The first major job was reroofing the now over 30 year old building and adding Solar PV panels in order to reduce the electricity bill.  The contractor was Sean Hand.  Literally under the hood, further enhancements were made by insulating the new roof and adding acoustic panels to absorb sound.  The AV system and large screen was also added at this time.  Light fittings were replaced and the hall redecorated as well as the launch of the beautiful Corduff Raferagh Community Centre (CRCC) logo by Sinead Finnegan.  A re-launch event was held in September 2018 and Meteorologist and RTÉ weather presenter, Gerry Murphy, acted as MC on the night.  2019 seen the total refurbishment of the Handball Alley by Corduff Handball Club.

In 2021 the Community Centre was nominated by John McArdle, Broadband Officer for Monaghan County Council as one of the 12 Broadband Connection Points for the county, 150MB high speed broadband is now available throughout the building.  This was launched by Minister for Rural and Community Development and Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys in June 2021.

Last year’s renovations to the building included the kitting out and refurbishment of the office upstairs into a state of the art Conference facility and the creation of two Hot Desks in the back room.  All of this work provides remote working space for individuals and businesses.  At this time new external signage for the building was put in place as well as the creation of a community website corduffraferagh.ie, where you can find the weekly community news as well as lots more local information.  The completion of this work was officially launched by Minister Humphreys on 10th February of this year.

The next project which will start in a few months includes the installation of a lift, and other upgrades.

Without grant aid, the continued enhancement, extension and repair of this building would not be possible. And without continued local financial and footfall support the building would not be viable.  We thank our community for your support over the years and look forward to your continued support and suggestions for new activities.

Bernie mentioned many names in her presentation of those who volunteered over the years, on committees or by simply grafting, sadly many of them have gone to their eternal reward and there were many people whose names were not mentioned but who also gave of their time, energy and commitment to the building and to the community, so on the night she asked for those present to remember their contribution over the years.

While still at the podium Bernie initiated the launch of the new and updated Corduff Calling book by giving an insight into the reason for reprinting the 1983 publication, explaining that over the years many people enquired if there were any spare copies of the Corduff Calling book and fortunately or unfortunately all of the 1000 copies printed were snatched up within a short space of time.  The stories contained in the book are a constant reference source for dates, names and information for many people, on all things Corduff Raferagh, a testament to each person who contributed a story or photograph, recording the rich history and heritage of the area.  With the 40th Anniversary approaching, it was decided to reprint the book but to also add to it, to bring the story up to date, so the new version of Corduff Calling is a two-part book, first the new section and then the original 1983 book.

Bernie reiterated that few words could express how grateful the Community Association are to each and every one who contributed to the updated publication, stating that the stories are truly a joy to read and knowing these stories and articles are recorded in print for posterity is without doubt a bonus.  Bernie sincerely thanked everyone who gave of their time to pull their article together and without their help the publication would not be possible.

Bernie then handed over the podium to Peadar Marron to launch the book.  Peadar was a key member of the team who worked on the original book and what better man to launch the new version.  Peadar reflected on the original book, the contributors, the sponsors and the history recorded by Fr. McGuinness, Brian McDermot and his dad Tommy Marron as well as numerous others, some of whom have once again contributed to the new version.  He recalled the opening event, when he and Seamus Brennan stood on the balcony looking out at the queue of cars arriving from both directions into the carpark for the occasion, validation that all the hard work over the previous number of years was worth it.  Peadar spoke about the growth of the community and Community Centre in the past 40 years and how the building plays a vital role in the social aspect of the community and congratulated all who served as officers and committee members over the years as well as the many volunteers whose help is vital and always appreciated.  Turning to the new articles recorded in the book, Peadar was delighted to see the wide range of contributors, writing on all aspects of the community from groups and clubs, to institutions like the local schools and churches right down to personal interviews with two local ladies, stating that the book “captures what we are about as a community in Corduff and Raferagh”.  He enjoyed reading the articles and hoped everyone else would get the same pleasure from the contents.  He thanked the contributors and Bernie Ruth for compiling the book, knowing how important it is to record in print these snippets in time of our local history.  With that he officially launched the Corduff Calling 1983 – 2023 book.

Chairperson Lorcan Hand returned to the podium and thanked Bernie and Peadar for their contribution and invited Vera Chambers to come forward to cut the anniversary cake. Vera is a wonderful supporter of the Centre and a member of a number of groups.  As she cut the cake, those present burst into song, singing Happy Birthday as Vera celebrated a very special birthday on St. Patrick’s day.

Lorcan then proceeded to announce the recipients of Appreciation Awards which were presented by Assistant Treasurer Joan Farrelly and Secretary Patricia Murtagh.  The first called forward was Patrick Ward whom Lorcan thanked for his years of dedication as chairperson, explaining that there is so much work that goes on behind the scenes, which you don’t realise until you take up such a role, he also commended Patrick on his dedication and organisation of the very successful monthly social dancing event, now in its 15th year.  Next called forward was Teresa Daly who he thanked for her years of dedication as Treasurer and her ongoing help at each and every function which takes place in the Community Centre.  Teresa was an officer on the committee for a staggering 34 years, holding three different positions – Secretary, Treasure and Vice Treasurer.  A phenomenal dedication to her voluntary work on the committee.  As Peadar Marron was called forward, Lorcan said “what can I say about this man, he has dealt with a myriad of situations that a Community Centre can throw at you, and as a committee member and past Chairperson, Peadar is owed a great deal of gratitude by the community”.  Gene Connolly was next up and thanked for his 25 years of dedication to the community and the committee in his roles as Treasurer and Vice Treasurer, quietly working away in the background.  Lorcan thanked Tom and Margaret Fox for their generosity and dedication to the Community and Community Centre as officers and committee members over the years.  Lorcan commended Pauline Reilly, Manager of the Centre.  Pauline is the pillar of the Community Centre dealing with all the day to day business of the building for the past 26 years and planning events such as this one, which is a credit to her and the staff.  Nobody could comprehend the time and dedication Pauline has given to the Centre over the years and the groups who use it, she goes above and beyond on a daily basis to ensure everyone who crosses the threshold receives the best care, attention and experience.  From 2006 Mairead McConnon has devoted herself to the bar events in the Community Centre and the Mountain Dew, facilitating all organisation and individuals that socialise in the Community Centre and the Mountain Dew.  Mairead has organised many fundraisers for the Community Centre and for local charities, all done coolly, calmly and with a smile.  The final recipients of Appreciation Awards were Peter, Bernadette, Emma and Louise Byrne, who always make themselves available at short notice to help out at every event that happens in the Community Centre and in the Mountain Dew and within the community.  Peter also served as an officer on the committee for over ten years.  Assistance from the Byrne family is invaluable to the community and is often done quietly, always professionally and without us realising what is going on.  Their input to every event is immeasurable but the work they put in every year to the Santa event alone is tremendous.

Concluding the speeches Lorcan went on to thank all organisations that support and use the facilities; the community for their support over the years; committee members past and present; Pauline the manager, the Solas workers, and also Rosie Mills and Mary Mc Kenna for help behind the scenes.  Lorcan proposed a toast to absent friends and committee members who passed away over the past number of years.

Lorcan then thanked Joan Farrelly, Patricia Murtagh, Joanne and Anthony Marron for all their help in preparing for the night.  He also congratulated Ben Woods, the groups Treasurer on the many awards he received during 2022 while wearing the black and amber jersey, such as the Gaelic Life 2022 Goalkeeper of the Year All Star Award and the Monaghan GAA Intermediate All Star Award.  Ben is a member of the Corduff Gaels team which won the Intermediate League, the Championship and the Reserve League. Congratulations was also extended to Corduff Gaels on their fantastic successes in 2022.

This concluded the speeches and then the fun began as Mr. Brightside took to the stage to entertain the crowd for a few hours.  The Ceili Club and Active Retirement group members present on the night took to the floor, showing the younger parishioners present how to enjoy themselves.  The highlight of the night had to be the new nonagenarian’s request from the band for the Hokey Pokey which saw the dance floor filled to join the birthday girl in her celebratory dance.  Many hips got a jiggle that hadn’t jiggled in years.  A special thank you goes out to Sales Person of the Year Margaret Marron who sold many copies of the new Corduff Calling book.  Books are now available in the Mountain Dew or each evening at Reception in the Community Centre.  A book was signed by all present on the night which is a beautiful keepsake of the celebrations.  An enjoyable night was had by all and concluded a weekend of celebration in the Centre and Mountain Dew.  The Corduff Raferagh Community Association would like to thank everyone who participated in and supported the celebrations over the weekend.

See this weeks Northern Standard for photographs of the event.

Committee Officers over the past 40 years –  When reviewing the list of officers who served on Corduff Raferagh Community Council later changed to Corduff Raferagh Community Association from 1983 – 2023, the list shows the dedication of many people to the Community Centre over the years.  There were also numerous committee members who dedicated time and energy to the Centre down throughout the years.  The following held one, two or maybe three different positions over their tenure in the Association.  Fr. Peter McGuinness served as President for the first 6 years, followed by Fr. Beggan for 18 years and then Fr. McCague for 16 years.  The Vice Presidents were Rev. Fulton and Tommy McKeown both for 5 years, Patsy Finnegan 38 years, Patsy Marron 33 years, Harry Chambers 25 years, Maureen McEnaney 3 years, George McKitterick 4 years, Philomena Lundy 6 years and Peter Brennan (Drumgurra) 4 years.  Peadar Marron 28 years as Chairperson, Vice Chair, Vice Treasurer & President.  Teresa Daly, 34 years as Secretary, Ass. Treasure and Treasurer.  Pauline Reilly, 18 years as PRO & Ass. Sec.  Eugene Connolly, 25 years as Treasurer and Ass. Treasurer.  Philomena Lundy 4 years as Chairperson & Vice Chair.  Una Marron 10 years as Vice Chair & PRO.  Peter Byrne 10 years as Chairperson, Vice Chair & Secretary.  Geraldine Fox 7 years as Ass. Sec.  Patrick Ward 13 years as Chairperson & Vice Chair.  Margaret Fox 17 years as Ass. Sec. & PRO.  Harry Chambers 5 years as Treasurer & Ass. Treasurer.  Frank Smith 5 years as Treasurer.  Peter Brennan (Cargaghoge) 5 years as Treasurer.  Gene Marron 5 years as Secretary.  Seamus Brennan 2 years as Vice Chair.  Tommy Marron 3 years as PRO.  Sean Keenan 2 years as Treasurer & Ass. Treasurer.  Jim Marron 4 years as Ass. Treasurer.  George McKitterick 6 years as PRO.  Jacinta McCabe 7 years as Secretary & Ass. Secretary.  Ann Hand 4 years as Secretary & Ass. Secretary.  Tom McEnaney 4 years as Secretary.  Jim Joe Walsh 2 years as Vice Chair & Treasurer.  Eileen Keelan 4 years as Chairperson, Secretary & Ass. Sec.  Margaret McCabe 2 years as Secretary. J.J. McEnaney 2 years as Vice. Chair.  Mary Marron 9 years as Secretary & Ass. Sec.  Alan Smith 9 years as Secretary & Ass. Sec.  Maura Smith 1 year as Ass. Sec.  Sean Marron 2 years as Treasurer.  Sheila Byrne 1 yr as PRO.  Bernadette Marron 2 years as PRO.  Richard Byrne and Brian McDermott both served for 2 years as Chairperson.  Maura McNally 1 year as Chairperson.  Paddy Gollogy 5 years as Chairperson & Vice Chair.  Conor Comiskey 2 years as Vice Chair.  John Finlass 4 years as Ass. Sec & Vice Chair.  Miriam Wash 3 years as Secretary.  Ciara Bundy 1 year as Ass. Sec.  Mary C. McEneaney 1 year as Ass. Sec.  Lorcan Woods and Mark Kennedy both served for 2 years as Vice Chair.  Michael McEntee 3 years as Vice Chair & Sec.  Denis McCabe 1 year as Vice Chair.  Lorcan Hand 4 years as Chairperson & Vice Chair.  Patricia Murtagh 5 years as Secretary & Ass. Treasurer.  Ben Woods 4 years as Treasurer & Ass. Treasurer.  Joan Farrelly 3 years as Ass. Treasurer. Bernie Ruth 4 years as PRO.

We have forgotten that many of these people were officers, who gave immeasurable time to their voluntary work which assisted in making the Community Centre the facility it is today.  Thanks to each and every one mentioned above for your dedication to the Community Centre over the years.