A local North Longford community are hoping to capitalise on its great tradition of volunteerism and community spirit to carry out much needed work on their local community centre. During the coming year the roof of the Latin School Community Centre in Moyne is due to be replaced without spending any money on labour.
The Community Centre in Moyne is a landmark building in the North County Longford landscape. Situated on the main Longford to Cavan road just a few miles from Arva, it has been in use as a Community Centre since 1983/84, when the local community formed a committee to tackle the job of restoring the old Latin School. Since then it has served and continues to serve the local and wider community around Dromard very well. Weekly Bingo takes place there each Thursday night throughout the year.
It is used by the local drama group, ‘The Latin School Players’ for rehearsals and for the production of their plays each year. Dancing classes and classes in Martial Arts together with meetings for various local groups are just some of its many other uses.
During the 1970’s and early 80’s much discussion and speculation had taken place as to what the fate of the old Latin School would be, now that it had been replaced and superseded by the new Community School over the road. The building itself is believed to have started life in 1897 as a two room male secondary school, where young men who wished to be educated for the priesthood were taught Latin and Greek.
The stones used to build the school are said to have come from an old church or Mass-house on Dromard hill which gave way to a new church in Moyne about 80 years previously. Between 1949 and 1956 four new classrooms were added to the existing building. In 1967 it became a mixed school and the existing classrooms were later supplemented by prefabricated wooden classrooms between 1976 and 1970. The school, which has more than a century and a half of history, can count nearly 600 priests among its past students, almost all of them natives of the dozen or so rural parishes within a twenty mile radius of the school in Counties Longford, Leitrim and Cavan. It finally ceased to function as a school in 1974 with the opening of the new Community School half a mile up the road.
Following the closure, it lay empty for a number of years. At the time, people in the community felt that the building should not be allowed to deteriorate and fall into ruin and at a public meeting in Moyne N.S. on Tuesday 8th February 1983 it was agreed that a committee be set up to oversee the conversion of the old Latin School into a community centre. Fundraising efforts yielded contributions totalling well over £25,000. An AnCO* scheme was organised and they collaborated very successfully with the National Manpower Service and the local community to ensure a tasteful restoration of the old building.
Two interior walls were removed, a new stage was built and a kitchen with hatch ensured that catering facilities would be available for functions. At the other end of the building behind the stage a community room was made available for meetings and minor functions. In 1997 this room was transformed into a comfortable well equipped and heated room where the Community Club met and where choir practices and many other meetings were held. The total cost of the work was just over £33,000 and the official opening of the community centre took place on Sunday 17th June 1984. The ceremony was performed by Bishop Colm O’Reilly.
Now 30 years on, the roof of the community centre is in need of attention/replacing and once again the local community has rallied to take on the task. It is hoped that together with a generous donation which has been made from Dromard parish funds and some local fundraising will meet the cost of materials for the project. In keeping with the trend set by previous generations where locals were not afraid to put hard graft into preserving something that was close to their hearts, dozens of locals have pledged to give their time and skills for free. The work is set to take place over two or three weeks in the early summer with local volunteers (Meitheal style) providing the labour and local building contractors overseeing the project,all free of charge. A number of local ladies have also pledged their support to cook/provide meals on site for the Meitheal. It should prove to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for all involved.