A new cultural centre in Sallins would make the area more attractive to tourists.
Plans for a cultural centre on the Clane Road and to where other groups and clubs plan to locate (including the GAA Club) have been drawn up by cultural group Sult na Sollan.
However money will have to provided by State agencies to make the centre become a reality.
A Kildare County Council area meeting last Tuesday heard that between E4,000 and E5,000 will be needed for a feasibility study.
Plans for the cultural centre have already been put forward and Fergus Carpetner (a Dublin-based school principal who has lived in Sallins since ‘02) and Dara de Faoite made a presentation to council officials and councillors at the meeting.
Mr. De Faoite, a technology consultant working for Hewlett Packard, has been living in Sallins for 13 years and he pointed out there is a rich Irish culture history in the area including 300 member of Comhaltas Ceolteoiri in Kilteel.
“There will be a lot of interest in this proposal and the centre would house an all-Irish pre-school, a cafe, classrooms, exhibition space and internet access,” he said. There is also potential for music sessions, language classes, music classes, workshops for children alongside the cultural centre.
They believe County Kildare to be the fastest growing Irish language county in the country. Mr. de Faoite said employment would be created and there is tourism potential based on figures from Failte Ireland for 2009 which indicate that 158,000 tourists visited the county, generating revenue of E64m.
It was also pointed out that the proximity to Dublin and Wicklow and the good transport links would bring many visitors to the centre.
He also pointed out that the area is well served by hotels in Naas and elsewhere. Bus tour companies have been approached and are interested in the idea. Sult na Sollan are also keen to have a traditional music festival hosted in Sallins.
“We hope that if the cultural centre succeeds then there will be a spin-off for other tourist enterprises,” he said.
There are other advantages such as Sallins’ central location. The canalside village is less than 20 minutes from 70% of the county’s population and less than 30 minutes from 85% of the population.
They hope to attract funding form agencies such as the Kildare European Leader Programme, Foras an Gaeilge, the Arts Council and Kildare County Council. It was also pointed out that an ongoing income stream could be generated from events and activities, school tours and summer courses.
However Cllr. Willie Callaghan encouraged greater cooperation with the GAA club, saying that the 30 acres of land would not be available for community use “if the GAA were not there.”
Cllr. Callaghan added: “I’m sceptical about this because you didn’t approach the GAA club and you’re looking to demolish bridges with the GAA club rather than building them.
Mr. de Faoite said the group has not met any group directly - not just the GAA club.