Activatives in Ratoath

November 7, 2018


 By Ciaran Buckley, Secretary, Ratoath Community Centre Committee

The Ratoath Community Centre opened in September, 2006 and every week there are more than 40 activities in the centre, for people of all ages. In this feature we speak to a few of the people who are involved in community centre activities.

Just like everybody else in the village, the community centre has had to tighten its belt. In order to keep the community centre open for as many hours as possible in 2009, we’re forming a panel of volunteers to run the front desk for a few hours, one evening per week. It’s a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and to find out what’s going on in the community. And remember, volunteering is even more fun when you bring along a friend!

If you’d like to get out of the house for a few hours, then call 01-6895600 and ask for Nick Killian General Manager  for more details, or e-mail

Betty Pennington on People for People (P4P)


The mission of the Ratoath organisation of ‘People for People’ is to

identify the needs of the community of Ratoath and to develop,

organise and channel the community’s local resources to meet these



We already have ten volunteers, people who are hoping to lend a hand

or do a good turn. They’ll be providing lifts to hospital, pick up

groceries and perscriptions. They’ll also be trying to alleviate the

loneliness and provide a few hours respite care for carers.


Gillian Toole and I contacted all of the key people, including the

GPs, pharmacists and priests, people who would have the inside track

on where people could help most. Then we approached Nick Killian at

the community centre, who offered us a room for our first meeting.


We’re not looking to fundraise, but we would love to have more

volunteers, people who could give one hour per week, some who could

give three or four hours per week.


If you’d like to volunteer, contact Betty Pennington on 087 2897803 or

e-mail her on

Eileen Kavanagh on Four Forks Drama Group


Ratoath has a very fine musical society but there was no drama group.  My friend, Mary Mahon and I decided to form such a group. We went to the Venue theatre and discussed our ideas with Nick Killian, the Venue manager.  Nick was very encouraging and supportive and I’m sure will continue to be. 

We called the group the Four Forks Drama Group. The name comes from when I was growing up in Finglas with my two sisters and my brother. We loved going to the pictures in the Casino cinema and were fascinated by American teenagers going into the drugstores and ordering milk shakes and burgers. When a chipper finally opened in Finglas, our version of ordering a milk shake and a burger was to order one plate of chips and four forks between us.

I wrote ‘Lorraine Bailey’ the first play that the group produced. We staged it in The Venue at the end of January and the feedback was terrific, we got standing ovations both nights. Building on our experience here, we will be in the Draoicht Theatre from September 10 – 12 and the Trim Town Hall on September 6.

It’s expensive to put on shows, in terms of paying for lighting professional and other expenses. We had a fundraising event in the GAA club and local businesses gave us spot prizes. We are looking for a sponsor for our group and would be delighted to hear from anyone who thinks they would be in a position to help.

Our vision for the future is to perform original work and to encourage writers to showcase their work with Four Forks. The Venue theatre is a wonderful amenity for us all to enjoy and I would encourage people to come out in support and to love their area which really is a very delightful place to live.

Any experienced or aspiring actors or playwrights should contact Eileen Kavanagh on 086-3195291 or e-mail

Derek Dawson on Lau Gar Kung Fu and Kick Boxing

Lau Gar Kung Fu and Lau Gar Kick Boxing is taught in the community centre every Monday night. Lau Gar is one of the five original Kung Fu systems.

Everybody is welcome to come along and the group is split into youth and adult classes. The youth classes are comprised of an equal number of boys and girls. The adult classes have more men, but there are a lot of women too. I have students from age 5 up to age 60.

Participants have the opportunity to progress through the grading system, earning the various sashes, or participating in tournaments. Others participate to stay fit, learn self-discipline or to get out of the house for a few hours.

The community centre is a great location for the group, because it’s a landmark in the village and we sometimes get new recruits who might come to The Venue theatre and see our posters in the foyer.

If you’d like to join Lau Gar Kung Fu or Lau Gar Kick Boxing, contact Derek Dawson on 087 2296040 or email


Doreen Quirke on the Ratoath Support Group


The Ratoath Community Support Group was set up to support the parents

of children with special needs. It meets at 8pm on the second Tuesday

of each month in the Community Centre. We promote the meetings through

the schools and in the parish newsletter.


We organise guest speakers to speak to the group about any topic that

is on the mind of the parents. For example, last month the principal

and vice-principal of Ratoath College came to discuss any issues that

might affect children of secondary school age. If we know about an

issue then we share the information. If we don’t, then we research it.


We also organise activities for the children. For example, many

conventional swimming groups don’t have an adequate teacher-pupil

ratio for children with special needs. That’s why we organised a

swimming class in the pool of the Marriott Hotel, with a reduced

pupil-teacher ratio. We’d like to specifically acknowledge the

Marriott, which has been particularly supportive towards our group and

sponsored the fashion show.


We have also organised yoga and a socialising network for the families

of special needs children. We are also planning a socialising network

for the special needs children themselves.


Overall, our activities depend on the parents, their children and

their respective needs.


We started the group two years ago, in March 2006 and have always met

in the Community Centre. At the moment there are around 15 people who

come regularly and we are in contact with around 24 people.


We wanted the meetings to take place in the Community Centre, because

it’s an open space, a community space. We were worried that if it was

held somebody’s home then it might be seen as a private clique.


Initially we didn’t have any funding, but the centre’s General Manager

Nick Killian made us feel very welcome. We’ve had funding since we

organised our first Fashion Show in April 2007 and since then we’ve

been able to pay for space in the community centre.  All we really

need is a private room in a neutral space.


Some families with special needs children have fantastic support and

have everything they need. Some people struggle, or mightn’t feel

comfortable admitting that there’s a problem. We advertise regularly

to find new people, because we want to let people know that there is a

support group out there. New members are always welcome and our

details can be obtained from the community centre.


Amanda Hogan on Foroige

The Foroige group has been using the community centre since it opened in 2006. Recently it split into two groups, one for older teenagers and another for 12 – 13 year olds. Both groups meet on Tuesday evenings between 800pm and 930pm.

The teenagers are the officers of the club and they decide on the activities and outings. The adult volunteers are there to provide structure for the group and to facilitate the things that the members want to do. It’s a mixed group, evenly split between boys and girls.

The outings include things like cookery lessons, first aid and bowling evenings. There’s a Talent Competition among district Foroige groups in March and an Achievements Awards ceremony in May. On the evenings when we’re based in Ratoath, we might watch videos, get pizza, or play tag football. Sometimes people bring and play their own music. One club charges €3 per meeting, the other charges €4 per meeting, which is to cover the running costs of the group. There is also a community aspect to it, the members take on a local environmental or social project, such as maintaining a public space.

We always need new volunteers to help the teenagers to run the club and we particularly need male volunteers. Anybody who is interested in participating should call Amanda Hogan on 087-6325730,, or Mary Redmond on 01-8254760.