New website targets donations for new Castlerea arts project

A new website for Castlerea arts project was launched at a function in Hell’s Kitchen on Friday last by local author John Waters.             The new website www.castlereaarts.com aims to get donations from businesses and members of the public for the transformation of Holy Trinity Church in Castlerea into an arts centre for the town.             Guests were welcomed to the launch by Breege Callaghan, Chairperson of Castlerea Community Arts Group and she said that the large crowd present was a great boost for the organisers.             Castlerea Community Arts Group has been in operation for five or six years and about five years ago met in Seán Browne’s pub where the first tentative plans for an arts centre in Holy Trinity Church were put forward. ‘We drew together the people involved in drama, music and traditional dance and those interested in culture and heritage and received great support from the County Enterprise Board which funded a feasibility study.’             Ms. Callaghan also acknowledged the input of both Arigna Leader and Momentum Consulting, a company which is now overseeing project management of the project at a professional level.             Ms. Callaghan spoke of the shared cultural heritage, which includes drama, music, dance and said that the new arts centre in Castlerea would be a treasure for generations to come. ‘We deserve this. This is ours and it’s our time now to get what’s owning to us.’             She spoke of the importance of support from the community. ‘It’s not always about funding and finance. Builders, plasterers and painters, can come to us and talk to us because that can be used as matching funding.’             €200,000 has already been allocated towards the project. A maximum grant of €100,000 from Arigna Leader was matched by another €100,000 from Clár funding. The group also received 100 percent funding to install a wood pellet and green energy heating system and engineers are coming from Sweden in August to work on that.             Friday night’s launch centred around the new website www.castlereaarts.com and organisers now intend to target people at local, national and international level for funding and patronage. ‘After this we will be going to the bigger centres where Castlerea people are living. We will be going to Roscommon and Castlerea people all over the world. We will be launched from this weekend. Think of ten people you know living away from Castlerea and send them this website,’ said Ms. Callaghan.             Launching the fundraising drive for the Trinity Arts Project, author John Waters recalled his days working with Larry McLoughlin on the Mardi Gras festival and paid tribute to the volunteers who have kept local events going in difficult circumstances.             Speaking of attitudes to Castlerea in former years, Mr. Waters said, ‘There was a sense that Castlerea always had the hind tit and nothing much was possible and where you were was where you stayed. I said it was the kind of place you stop for sandwiches going to Knock and now it’s not on the road to Knock.’             He rubbished such notions of Castlerea in the 21st century, saying, ‘anything is possible. The town is changing. Twenty years ago, we were on the scrapheap as a country, now look at it. There is no reason why a town like Castlerea couldn’t be transformed.’             ‘There was something about the mindset that we grew up with, that you had to put up with this and things were going to stay like that. Holy Trinity Church is an example of that, a beautiful building, but never really part of something you would call your own, never part of your heritage and community, partly because it was a Protestant church and we had very strong ideas inculcated into us at that time about Protestants.             ‘The very fact that that building now is being absorbed into the community and taken on is an amazing symbol of what’s possible. You can reclaim the whole environment. You live in the town and you have a say and an input. To give money to this project is not giving it away. You are investing in the town.             ‘That’s a big change, that we now have the capacity to see that. The people involved are doing tremendous work. It’s a big project and it will be really a major centrepiece for the town. It can be the centre of cultural and creative activity. We have to get it into our minds that it is possible to complete it, it’s time we gave up thinking everyone else was entitled to these things.’             Speaking of the transformation of recent years, he recalled that when he started in journalism, he had to go to Cahill’s and Quinn’s and Egan’s to collect the coins necessary to make a call to Dublin, now the internet has made communication possible on a completely different level. Mr. Waters then cut a virtual ribbon on the website, launching www.castlereaarts.com.             After the website was launched, Catherine Walsh of OSD Design in Sligo took guests through the three-page website, noting that people can donate on-line to the project. She said that corporate funding is being targeted for the restoration of the windows. Tax credits are available for individuals and businesses that sponsor the project. Others to address the gathering included Joe Ryan from Arigna Leader and Cllr. Tony Waldron, who spoke on behalf of Roscommon County Enterprise Board.             Donations, individual and business, can now be made by visiting www.castlereaarts.com