Joanne O'Sullivan and Liz Scott Hall are both active participants in projects embedded in the Carrigaline community. They have keen interests in planning, sustainable mobility, arts, culture and community and following the publishing of the Draft County Development Plan 2022-2028, they have cast an eye over the future vision of Cork in these areas of interest that may be relevant to Carrigaline. Submissions to the Development Plan from the public remain open until July 1st.
Thanks to Ciaran Dineen for compiling this.
Opinion by Liz Scott Hall
Before I moved to Carrigaline from the UK over six years ago, I had lectured in Vocal and Choral Studies, and Music Education, taught singing and worked with the Centre for Research into the Arts as Well-being. I also ran community Arts projects for the National Health and Social Services and for Youth Music. I’m just passionate about the positive effect the Arts can have on people.
I mean ‘Arts’ in a wider sense, not just classical music, drama, painting or ballet. Every Arts project involved was research-based (I was focussed on understanding the neuro-psycho-biological impact of group singing), and the government was listening to us. I simply couldn’t bear to leave that behind, so I regularly returned to the UK throughout my first year here.
As my second year in Carrigaline began, I realised I hardly knew anyone, because I hadn’t really committed to my life here. It was a light-bulb moment when I realised that although Carrigaline was actually where I lived, I hadn’t made it my home, and hardly knew a soul.
Pic: The Lions Youth Centre - Carrigaline
I realised how isolated I was here, and was dismayed at the lack of any sort of theatre or arts centre in the town. We have no permanent professional stage for our entertainment, or a big enough public space for arts and social activities to take place.
It was when I was asked to help the Men’s Shed start a choir that I truly began to appreciate the richness of our local heritage and culture – just look at Carrigaline Musical Society, and the areas many choirs, drama clubs, and dance schools, not forgetting the Pipe Band and Comhaltas. There is so much creativity and talent here, but no permanent, central place to go to see, or experience it.
I began to feel strongly that our fast-growing town wasn’t addressing the needs or talents of its growing population. So I signed up for SECAD’s My Town My Plan training, which offered anyone with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal to come along and learn about the intricacies involved – procedural, legal, and other issues to be addressed in realising their ideas.
I met others on the course too, keen to see our town develop – by enhancing the town centre, making it a more attractive place with cleaner air, easily reached by better foot and cycle routes, and, at the centre, an inclusive, welcoming place where everyone can come together to see visual art, to socialise, be entertained, participate and celebrate our arts, cultural heritage and our diversity.
A 2007 Carrigaline and Hinterlands survey showed support for an arts centre and a civic hall, and, even then, traffic was an issue. A small survey was posted and shared on Facebook in summer 2020, showing the majority of respondents being in support of a theatre, cinema, art gallery and rooms for rehearsal or for workshops and classes.
Hot-desking was supported, too, by just over 20% of respondents. Our small My Town My Plan team, (Ciaran Dineen, Joanne O’Sullivan Barry Cogan and I gave presentations thanks to Joanne’s unstinting work with video and layout) to the Municipal District, then to Cork County Councils to lobby support. Joanne did amazing work on the presentations, especially on the safe travel and clean air aspect. We had seen that people wanted accessible Civic offices with a multi-purpose space holding theatre/cinema, heritage centre, café, and a permanent large gallery with space for workshops. Owenabue Arts Collective’s successful small gallery needs a bigger home for arts classes and projects.
Our working group has grown to include Liam O’Connor, Seamus McGrath and other local people with knowledge, skills and expertise. It’s going to be a long road ahead, and, in time, there will be much work to do, so we will need many more people involved.
The latest draft of the County Council’s Draft Plan 2022-28 , has recently been published online. You can see it on Cork CoCo’s site. Volume 4 sets out future possibilities for our area, p20 specifies the need for Civic and Cultural facilities – which is very exciting. There is a ‘Click here to have your say’ box, where you can contribute your own ideas, or show support for things you’d like to see. The Arts can bring people of diverse ethnicities, different abilities, old and young together in wonderful, varied and unexpected ways, and it would be great if we can bring that here.