Bredagh Old School Committee secured funding from LEADER to carry out refurbishment to Bredagh Old School, Carrigallen, Co. Leitrim. The building is designated as a protected structure due to its architectural heritage.
The school, built circa 1840, was disused for years until the group had the vision to develop it as a new community facility. The project involved the total restoration of the interior of the school house, landscaping the grounds and building a stone wall around the property.
The building is considered by the local community to be part of the local heritage and the redevelopment is seen as having the potential to generate new life and activities in Carrigallen. The renovation of the property has provided a venue to be used by minority faith congregations and groups for receptions, Sunday school, fundraising events, Bible study and other uses. It is also a private and intimate setting in which services such as counselling, health promotion, addiction services and suicide prevention can be provided to community members.
More widely, it provides a venue for use by local community groups for events, activities and projects.
The most basic facilitating factors that enabled this project to happen was good will and common sense. From the local businesses who provided work, supplies, donations and loans to ease the overall financial burden of the Local Authority who were very accommodating to an appropriate balance of restoration to allow the building to have a new lease of life. The project was completed in early 2014 and has gone from strength to strength since its opening and has become a hub of activity for all in the local community.
The finish is excellent and it is wonderful or those involved to have seen a new lease of life given to such a beautiful building.
In essence this project worked particularly well due to the dedication of the two leaders within the committee. In any LEADER project there must be one or two distinct drivers within the promoter organisation willing to commit a considerable amount of time, energy and patience to guarantee the fruition of the process.
The most notable challenge was the additional heritage rules that were introduced during the programme. This led to considerable downtime while resolutions were sought to the appropriate level of restoration.
A building should be considered a living entity and it is not always best practice to try and reinstate it exactly as it was in the past if it is not in keeping with the building’s new use.