An end of an era.

November 7, 2018

On Friday last april 20th the old community hall in Drangan was demolished to the ground to make way for a new modern community/sports hall in Drangan. Many locals gathered to witness an end of an era as the large track machine made little work of pulling down the walls of the old hall. Anyone who was reared or lived in Drangan over the last sixty years will have fond memories of the hall which has played such a vital role in our community.

Built in the late forties by Johnny Clancy and Paddy Martin as a dance hall, the slievenamon hall as it was then known, attracted huge crowds for dances. Many well known bands of that era also played there. In 1951 the hall was sold to the local creamery co-op and was used to store bags of feed, seed and potatoes. It was often cleared out for dances and it was also during this era that it began to be used for playing the game of badminton. In 1953 a badminton club was formed in Drangan and badminton was to become the main sport to be played in the hall which has continued right up to the present day. The badminton club has a very proud history in Drangan producing some great players with many teams over the years winning county and national titles.

In 1970 the creamery which was now part of South tipp farmers co-op offered to sell the hall and the adjoining plot of land to the parish for the sum of £1000. A Community centre committee was established and they went from door to door to collect the funds to purchase the property. Over the next few years this committee which was led by Fr. Hennessy who was curate in Drangan at the time worked tirelessly to develop the community centre and grounds . Between 1970 and 1975 the hall was renovated, when a stage, supper room and toilets were added and two tennis courts were developed on the adjoining grounds. During the 70’s as well as badminton and dances the hall was used for staging plays, variety concerts, scor competitions, and of course the highlight of the year for most children was the jumble sale before xmas and the arrival of santa claus. The hall also became the main centre for card playing with whist drives been held on monday nights and progressive 25 drives on thursday nights both which continue to the present day.

The 1980’s brought the teenage discos which filled the hall with crowds of teenagers from Drangan and surrounding areas. Many of you from this generation will have great memories of DJ ‘ShamLee’ with his lighting equipment and boxes of records a far cry from the modern DJs with their laptops and itunes. The 80’s also saw the start of keep fit classes , irish dancing classes and youth groups. The hall was also used by local groups like creamery committees , IFA, Gaa , ladies groups for meetings and activities. As the years rolled by times changed, and the hall has had to adapt to many changes over the years.

The nineties brought major change to the hall with a new community centre committee taking up the reins of running the centre . The people of the parish owe a huge gratitude to the people who gave up so much of their time and energy to develop the community centre during the 70’and 80’sand 90’s. I would love to name them in this article but would be afraid I might leave someone out. Anyway most of you know who they were and some have gone to their eternal reward.

The new committee which took over the running of the hall in the late nineties looked at how they could forward the development of the centre and in 1999 they commenced construction on a new extension which was to facilitate a pre-school playgroup and incorporate a new kitchen and toilets. The Drangan and Cloneen playgroup has been a wonderful success catering for the pre school children of the parish as well as providing employment for local people.. The playgroup room is also now used for meetings and card playing as it has the comfort of a modern  heating system. In 2007 a children’s playground was constructed on grounds in front of the tennis courts. This is enjoyed by the young children of the parish as well as many visitors from outside the parish.

The severe frost over the winter of 2010 took it’s toll on the old hall which of course had no insulation. The hall committee had to decide whether to renovate the old hall which would have involved a huge insulation job , new windows and complete new heating system or construct a new modern hall. When a building grant was secured from leader the decision was made to construct a new modern hall. A public meeting for the people of the parish was held in January of this year where the hall committee put forward their plans for approval. The people of the parish gave their unanimous support for the project and the hall committee got to work. The final touches were put to the plans and the contract to build the new hall was given to kilknockin construction. The hall committee then like it’s predecessors in the 70’s started the huge task of going from door to door collecting the finances to fund the project. Like the 70’s the people of Drangan again came up trumps committing to donate the funds required over a three year period.

The new hall will be a higher building which will facilitate the playing of other sports as well as badminton. It will also have a stage and a new meeting room. It will be a modern building which will be more efficient to heat and maintain. Plans of the hall can be seen on the hall’s committee facebook page where a video of the knocking of the old hall can also be seen so have a look. The new hall which is expected to be completed in the autumn of this year will be a huge addition to the village and the community.

The old hall has served the people of Drangan well over the years. Many of you will have very fond memories of it, whether it was playing badminton, cards, performing in variety concerts or maybe it was a romantic encounter at a dance or disco. Many of you have your own stories to tell of events in the hall, some very funny incidences and some which I’m sure would be better not recorded on paper.

  We sincerely thank the huge work of the Drangan community hall committee and we now look forward to the new Community hall which will in time I’m sure create it’s own memories.