COMMUNITY activists in Abbeyfeale are hoping to chart a new future for a key facility in the town, the 100-seat community theatre called An Glórach.
“It is time for change if Glórach is to continue to grow and develop,” said the chairman of the management board, Jim Dennison, who intends standing down from that position.
He and other members of the board, he added, had been involved in the project for years, many for several decades. “We recognise the need to move aside and make room for new blood who can return vibrancy to the project and take it in new and exciting directions,” he said.
The idea for a dedicated space for local performing arts, music and culture goes back four decades but it was the 1990s before this project took concrete form. The first space, An Cliabhán, was designed as a meeting and rehearsal room and located on a site just above the church in Abbeyfeale. The full-scale theatre building, with raked seating for 100 and professional lighting and sound systems, came later on the same site.
In the decade or so since it opened, Glórach has played host to sessions, Limerick Youth Theatre, drama and concerts as well as providing a meeting space for parish meetings, exercise classes, a parent and toddler group and the Kerry School of Music. The building has been managed by Abbeyfeale Folk, and according to Mr Dennison, a number of improvements have been made in the last decade, to reduce running costs. These included insulation and a secondary energy-efficient lighting system.
“It is almost debt-free,” Mr Dennison stressed to the Limerick Leader this week. A 15-year term loan was taken out in 2003 and has just four years to run, he explained.
“Glórach is a community facility and always has been,” he emphasised. However, the board also believes that there has been an unfounded perception abroad in the community that this was not the case. Mr Dennison pointed out that in the past year or so alone, Glórach had undertaken a number of joint ventures such as with The Gathering. But he accepted that, to some extent, it had never fully realised its potential.
“In recent years our group has lost its vibrancy as our members’ personal and work commitments have prevented them from putting the necessary energy into making the theatre reach its potential,” he said. “While a few new members have joined in recent years we have found it difficult to recruit people to our board willing to take on the responsibilities of managing the facility and recognise that it is no longer sustainable to continue in this manner.”
A public meeting has been called for next Thursday, May 29 at 8pm in the theatre itself in a bid to chart a new course for Glórach, and to encourage new individuals and groups to play a direct role in shaping that new future. The secretary of Abbeyfeale Community Development Association, Michael Lane will chair the meeting.