Open day at the New Institute


Christine Nevin demonstrating a Zumba class at the New Institute Open House.

A hive of community activity for almost 200 years now, the new Nenagh Institute on Friar St continues to serve the needs of a wide range of local groups.

An open day was recently held to showcase some of the many and varied opportunities available at the institute. Those present were invited to participate in the courses free of charge, with the possibility of making a donation.

The institute is home to some of the city’s leading sports clubs including Nenagh Warriors Basketball Club, Nenagh Squash Club, Irish Taekwondo Academy and of course the centre’s oldest resident, Nenagh Snooker & Social Club (formerly the New Institute Snooker Club).

The institute also offers a range of classes between Fit Fusion, Limitless Fitness 101 and Yoga Nenagh, as well as gym classes for children and users of St Cronan’s services. There are Slimming World courses here, Tipperary ETB activities, youth groups, prayer group meetings and the weekly Nenagh Country Market.

The large hall at the Friar St center and two additional halls are available and have been used for large scale community meetings and group meetings by companies including Tipperary Search & Rescue and Nenagh Community Allotments.

EXPANDED USE

Local man Mick White has been director of the New Institute since 2019. He previously worked at the center on a CE programme. When former manager John Brett retired, Mick successfully applied for the job and now runs the center with the support of a number of Tús placement workers.

Mick sought to increase the number of people attending the establishment and broaden its appeal in the Nenagh community. He created a Facebook page to promote the institute, which was doing very well until the pandemic hit.

Unfortunately, like so many community centers, the New Institute has struggled to regain momentum in the post-pandemic world. Revenues have suffered, while increasingly expensive bills have yet to be paid.

But Mick is keen to highlight the many new opportunities this downtown facility offers the community. Always looking to improve the institute’s offering – and having completed a business improvement and networking mentoring course – he would like to see it used more during daytime hours and suggests that older people could take advantage of it as meeting space or to play cards. or board games like chess or checkers.

The official has contacted organizations such as Tusla, Rehab and Enable Ireland to try to foster greater connectivity with the New Institute. He is currently overseeing a small-scale renovation of the premises, which extends to a mural competition involving local schools. Students from the winning school will be invited to paint a mural on the main hall wall on the ground floor.

The snooker club has taken advantage of the pandemic to extensively refurbish its part of the premises, where it has been based for nearly 140 years. The rest of the old building needs more investment and the management is in the process of applying for grants in this regard. It is hoped that these will include the upgrading of toilets and showers at the institute.

A COMMUNITY LIFE CENTER

Now called the “New Pastoral Institute and Recreation Center” – supported by Pobal – the site of the institute was originally a place of education. This is where the National Schools were built for Nenagh girls and boys, recognized by the National Board of Education in 1832. Nenagh’s Temperance Hall was added to the site in 1841-’42. Daniel O’Connell stayed here after one of his “monster meetings” at Grange Hill on the Borrisokane Road in 1843.

When the Sisters of Mercy moved to their present school, RC church authorities permitted the Nenagh Literary Institute to establish itself on the site in 1887. Its facilities included a library, reading room, card room, a billiard room, a gymnasium and a concert hall. In her book ‘Walkabout Nenagh’, Nancy Murphy documented the many later uses of the Friar St premises, from social dances to the national billiards and snooker champions that emerged from the ‘New Institute’, a legacy that lives on to this day. .

A major overhaul in 1978 created the modern complex geared specifically to the needs of young people with its indoor sports facilities and flexible function rooms.

FUTURE VISION

The new director wants the community to continue to use the institute.

While summer is usually a quiet time, Mick is looking forward to a busier start to September and invites people to come and take a look at what’s available. Meeting rooms can be rented for €30 for two hours and €20 for the next hour.

The large room downstairs can accommodate about 200 people seated. The upstairs room can accommodate 50 people, while there is also a smaller room for groups of around ten people. There are cooking facilities available and also ample parking, which is free in nearby car parks in the evening.

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