RICC Development planned

Top, left to right: Nicola Ryan, Catherine Gorman, Gráinne Dunne – Studio Red Architects, Róisín Kelly – Board, Mae Kane.

Top, left to right: Nicola Ryan, Catherine Gorman, Gráinne Dunne – Studio Red Architects, Róisín Kelly – Board, Mae Kane.

As some of our readers may well know, in recent years there has been a push for the refurbishment of the Ringsend and Irishtown Community Centre.

Proposals for the facility’s rejuvenation were unveiled recently and the centre’s development board will seek funding in the early stages of 2016.

NewsFour attended a presentation for the facility’s future plans on Monday, December 7th where several keynote speakers addressed the crowd about the forthcoming project.

These speakers included Gráinne Dunne of Studio Red Architects, Lorcan Blake of DKM Consultants, Ciaran Loughran of Headway, DCC Sports Coordinator Jon Sweeney, Alan Martin from the Dublin Dock Workers’ Preservation Society, Jimmy Murray from Sea Safari, Catherine Gorman from City Housing Initiative and of course, Lorraine Barry from Ringsend and Irishtown Community Centre.

The plans for the centre include a museum that will document the history of Ringsend and its dockers. A boxing club, which has been in the pipeline for many years, will be accomodated within the facilty, which has received support from former Olympic boxer Michael Carruth.

A catering area will be created for elderly people, and local business people will be able to take advantage of the facility’s retail start-up hubs.

In addition, a sea safari will also be set up which will help to create local jobs, and the community creche will also undergo a revamp.

Studio Red Architects were commissioned by the RICC to design the building. When the refurbishment is complete, the complex is expected to be five storeys high, replete with commercial units and an increase in height for the Blue Room, as its current elevation not suitable for the needs of those performing in the theatre and drama departments. The new centre will face the waterfront.

“We’ve been working with the centre since 2009, and we’re fully aware of the challenges they face”, Gráinne Dunne informed the gathering. “Ringsend is unique in terms of the density of population that it can reach, and we want to get everybody in.”

Lorcan Blake of DKM Consultants then took to the stage to apprise the crowd of the economic realities involved with taking on this ambitious project.

Blake insisted that the project would indeed be financially viable and would be largely dependant on certain sources of funding, such as social contributions, community gain funds, Dublin City Council, central government and public bodies as well as European Union funding.

Revenue would be generated through the multi-purpose hall and residential and start-up retail units. Blake also reiterated that the facility would be 100% owned by the centre itself.

Ciaran Loughran is CEO of Headway, a service that deals with people with brain injury. The service had previously operated out of Ringsend but is now located in Donnybrook, and Ciaran expressed his delight at the prospect of Headway returning home to the Ringsend and Irishtown Community Centre.

“We (Headway) are 30 years on the go this year”, Loughran said. “Since we’ve last been here we’ve gotten international accreditation. We’re a community-based organisation and it’s very nice to hear of Headway being an anchor tenant.”

Alan Martin spoke representing the Dublin Dock Workers’ Preservation Society. He posed the question of whether or not Ringsend could survive as a modern, local community given the influx of numerous contemporary companies like Google and Yahoo into the area.

Alan also stated that the group collects memorabilia regarding the area’s history and implored people to come forth with photographs and other paraphernalia once the exhibition is up and running in the new building.

“In the old days they had fisherman and boat builders, with a large supply of dock workers,” Alan said. “You walk down Pearse Street and its all modern, and when you cross the bridge it’s like you’ve just stepped into a time warp. Can they both exist? It’s the old surrounded by the new, that’s the way I look at it.

We have always needed a place to display our collection, and we were delighted when we were invited to a meeting with the Ringsend people, and to be given an exhibition space within the centre.”

Jimmy Murray of Sea Safari spoke of the lack of apprenticeships in the area, and that companies will be looking to replace the workers who are retiring with an experienced younger generation, which will provide a most welcome employment boost to the area.

Above: Lorraine Barry introducing the presentation.

Above: Lorraine Barry introducing the presentation.

Catherine Gorman of City Housing Initiative was the final speaker of the afternoon, and she expressed genuine optimism at the future success of the new complex. “Our community centre is bursting at the seams”, she said. “We have the land, we have the capacity, we have the commitment of the staff, the management and the board. We have the potential stakeholders. We also have a record of delivering projects on time. The board has not only looked at this project with its heart but with its head.”

By Craig Kinsella