A €6m revamp of Lahinch Leisure Centre in County Clare has been officially unveiled by Heather Humphreys, T.D., Minister for Rural and Community Development.
The facility upgrade is funded by the Department of Community & Rural Development through the RRDF, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), the TOMAR Trust, LEADER, Clare County Council and local fundraising.
The newly redesigned family-friendly, state-of-the-art facility features a 25-metre heated swimming pool, learner pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. A two-storey fitness gym overlooks the Promenade and Liscannor Bay, with membership drawn from all over North and West Clare already exceeding 1,400 people.
Cllr. Tony O’Brien, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, praised the wider community for its “steadfast support” for the development and he expressed his hope that future developments on site will further add to the amenities on offer.
“Today is about the future and a fantastic modern facility that is once again ready to serve another generation of residents and visitors to Lahinch, and the entire North and West Clare area,” he added.
Shane Talty, Member of the Board of Lahinch Leisure Centre and Cathaoirleach of the West Clare Municipal District said the upgrade is the first significant development on the site in more than 25 years and marks the beginning of a new phase of life for the historic community facility.
“The first development on this site was in 1963, when a forward thinking, progressive Community Development Association oversaw the provision of a dance hall and outdoor swimming pool,” explained Councillor Talty. “That centre operated for the next 30 years, until the mid-1990s when a large-scale renovation saw the pool modernised and enclosed and an aquarium developed.”
He continued, “The revamped facility opened in 1996 and served the community up to its closure in Dec 2019. By then, the structures had become dilapidated, the roof was badly leaking, and the pool plant room had reached end of life. Only the trojan efforts of the then Manager Joe Garrihy, his staff, the Board Chair Denis Creedon and the members somehow managed to keep the centre open for as long as they had.”
Cllr. Talty noted that planning has already commenced regarding the proposed repurposing the community hall within the building and that further funding will be sought.
“Funding received under the Department’s RRDF fund has also helped deliver new on-site public toilets as well as a new Rescue Centre developed by Clare Water Safety with our support in providing the required lands,” he added. “We have been delighted with this model of collaboration between the Local Authority, Clare Water Safety and ourselves in making the centre a real hub for the community.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, commented, “Investment in our towns and villages is critical to building sustainable communities. The people best placed to effect real, positive change in rural communities are the people who live there, and Lahinch is no exception. In line with our Rural Development Strategy, Clare County Council is delighted to have been able to support the community and local Elected Members in bringing this project to fruition.”
Lahinch Leisure Centre Manager Eoin Conlan said, “From infants taking their first steps into the water to the swimming club, schools, adult classes and people recovering from injury or surgery, the pool is open to everyone. Our fitness gym is home to the finest equipment in Clare and boasts the most panoramic views of any Leisure Centre in the country. We look forward to encouraging and advocating people to reach their Health and fitness goals for many years to come.”
Through funding support from the SEAI, the facility is a Nearly Zero-Energy Building (NZEB) delivering approximately €100,000 savings in annual energy costs. Additional funding from LEADER programme has delivered energy upgrade works to further heighten the environmental sustainability of the centre.
JADA Construction Ltd & Kelly RAC were the main contractors for the development while the design team comprised McKenna Consulting Engineers, Tom McNamara & Partners and Tipperary Energy Agency.
See www.lahinchleisurecentre.ie for further information.