‘Sound’ investment for Islandmagee community

Michael Loughran, of Islandmagee Community Centre, at the Gobbins, with Hilary Bailey and Eric Bailey and the choir with the new sound desk.
Michael Loughran, of Islandmagee Community Centre, at the Gobbins, with Hilary Bailey and Eric Bailey and the choir with the new sound desk.

Islandmagee’s Island Voices Choir are celebrating after their local community centre received an acoustic makeover to the tune of £30k.

The project is part of over £1.67 million being invested in 18 villages across Mid and East Antrim under the Village Renewal Programme.

The programme is funded by council and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Islandmagee Community Centre not only had sound experts assess the building, but got a new PA system and state of the art acoustic panelling installed to enhance the sound in the main hall.

The centre, located beside The Gobbins, is already home to Playaway Playgroup, craft and food fairs, carol services, quizzes, kids parties and fitness classes. This new development will allow the centre to be used for much more.

Ald. Gregg McKeen, chair of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Economic Growth Committee, said: “This is the first Village Renewal project across the line and we’re really delighted. Everything about this has been about the local community, from the ideas, the work timescales, the consultations and even the contractor who carried out the work is local.

“This is the ethos behind Village Renewal, it helps local communities roll out improvements in their areas that benefit them. Groups have spent months consulting with locals and experts about their innovative ideas to boost their areas and special thanks goes to the Islandmagee Community Development Association.

“Without their commitment, energy and ideas, the process would not have been the success it has been. I would also like to thank DAERA for their support under the Rural Development Programme, and all the contractors for keeping disruption to a minimum at the centre.

“Putting People First is core to our community plan for Mid and East Antrim and this has been central to the village renewal process. Council is proud to give this financial boost to help support its local communities, and with guidance from experts to help them get the best service possible.”

Eric Bailey, chair of Islandmagee Community Development Association, is delighted with the end result: “This upgrade work will offer a real boost to our facility here at the centre. The local hall users are very happy with the acoustic improvement and new PA system and it will mean we can offer a greater variety of events and performances all year round.”

Island Voices Choir organiser Hilary Bailey added: “We’re excited that the new sound system is now in place for future concerts. Whilst we loved our new hall, the sound reproduction was poor, making it hard to hear and be heard. This upgrade now makes the hall acoustically ideal for us and other users.”

Funding for the village renewal programme is distributed by Mid and East Antrim Local Action Group.