Minister Simon Harris promises pool for West Wicklow to be delivered within two years
Minister for Health Simon Harris committed to ensuring the deliverance of a public swimming pool for West Wicklow in the next two years. Minister Harris made these remarks as part of his speech at the Community Pool for West Wicklow Campaign birthday celebration at Russborough House on Saturday afternoon. The event, a free family funday was organised by the Community Pool for West Wicklow Campaign Committee to celebrate one year of their campaign for a swimming pool in the West Wicklow area of the county. Minister Harris went on to commend the committee’s determination and hard work over the last year and said he looked forward to continuing to work closely with them to achieve their goal of a pool for West Wicklow.
While addressing the crowd, committee Chairperson Deirdre McCormack shared the news that at the start of this year Wicklow County Council had commissioned a feasibility study to look into the possibility of a swimming pool for West Wicklow. A draft presentation of this study, which was delivered to local Councillors and attended by the Community Pool for West Wicklow Campaign Committee in April came back in favour of a pool for the area. Following on from this, Wicklow County Council have applied for Stream 1 funding from the Large Scale Sports and Infrastructure Fund.
Whilst these are the first positive steps towards the deliverance of a swimming pool for the West Wicklow area, Deirdre McCormack reminded the party goers that the community must continue to be proactive to ensure the deliverance of the pool. With this in mind the Community Pool for West Wicklow Committee officially launched their fundraising campaign with an ambitious target to raise €1 million over two years.
Committee Chairperson Deirdre McCormack called on local sports groups and teams, GAA teams, community groups, District and Town Forums, the Blessington Town Team, local schools and businesses to work together with the campaign to raise €1 million and get a pool for West Wicklow.
The event on Saturday August 17th was well attended with an estimated crowd of over 300 people visiting the Hippodrome at Russborough House over the course of the afternoon. Local Councillors Gerry O’Neil, Avril Cronin, Edward Timmins and Patsy Glennon were also in attendance.
Water Safety Ireland were on hand to offer advice to party goers young and old on how best to stay safe while in the water. They also ensured that Minister Harris brushed up on his CPR skills with their mascot Uisce Bear on hand to offer guidance.
Wicklow Local Sports Partnership made sure everyone enjoyed the party atmosphere with their giant connect 4, Jenga and snakes and ladders games.
The young dancers from the Ruth Shine School of Dance entertained the crowds with their water and swimming inspired dance routines.
Katie Charles had everyone up and moving with her dancercise routines.
East Coast FM and Sinead Carroll made sure there were hundreds of little happy faces by providing face painting and balloon animals on the day.
The Hippodrome, located in the scenic grounds of Russborough House, was decorated on the day with bunting made from artwork by local school children.
The Community Pool for West Wicklow are delighted with Minister Harris’s promise that West Wicklow will get a public swimming pool in the next two years. We look forward to working with himself, local representatives and Wicklow County Council to ensure that the people of West Wicklow receive this much needed and wanted amenity. “We have a busy two years ahead of us but we are determined to raise €1 million and with the support of the West Wicklow Community behind us we know that we will achieve our goal of a pool for West Wicklow” commented Chairperson of the Community Pool for West Wicklow Committee, Deirdre McCormack.
What we have achieved so far:
· In the past year the Community Pool for West Wicklow Committee, along with the support of the greater West Wicklow community, have successfully lobbied Wicklow County Council into commissioning a feasibility study to investigate the viability of a local swimming pool in West Wicklow.
· Together we made a swimming pool one of the big issues being discussed with candidates in the recent local elections and have gained support from local Cllrs and TDs alike.
· After a presentation of the feasibility study’s initial findings at the Baltinglass Municipal District meeting in April 2019, the then sitting Cllrs unanimously agreed that the development of a swimming pool in West Wicklow was worth further investigation.
· On the back of the feasibility study Wicklow County Council applied for Stream 1 funding from the Large Scale Sports and Infrastructure Fund.
The Baltinglass Municipal District is the only Municipal District in County Wicklow without a council owned or operated swimming pool. With a population of approximately 26,000, according to the 2016 Census, and reaching from Manor Kilbride to Carnew the communities in this area have been left high and dry when it comes to access to swimming facilities.
We must leave our own county, Wicklow and travel to Naas, Tallaght, Athy, Kilkenny and even as far as Wexford in order to go swimming.
Schools in the locality have been particularly effected by the lack of swimming facilities in the Baltinglass Municipal District. Swimming lessons are now part of the primary school physical education curriculum but teachers and principals here are having to choose between allocating potential teaching hours to transporting students to the nearest pool or skipping swimming altogether. The lack of swimming facilities in West Wicklow is robbing the children here of the essential life skill of swimming and an awareness of water safety.
The benefits of swimming are not limited to any age group or ability and the development of a swimming pool in West Wicklow would have a far reaching positive impact on our community.
The Community Pool for West Wicklow Campaign Committee are committed to continuing to lobby for the provision of this important amenity in the Baltinglass Municipal District and look forward to working with Wicklow County Council to ensure this goal is achieved. We have set ourselves the ambitious target of raising €1 million over two years to be put towards the development and construction of a pool for West Wicklow.
The Community Pool for West Wicklow Committee are Deirdre McCormack (Chairperson), Jane Nolan Lehane (Secretary), Susan Rossiter (Treasurer), Marion McNally (Treasurer), David McKay (Fundraising sub-committee) & Eamonn Blake (Fundraising sub-committee).
Contact Deirdre McCormack for further information and higher quality images.