Swinford Town Hall
1.0 Historical Background
Below is an animation of the Town Hall in Swinford:
The building was on a T-shaped plan with a seven-bay deep single-storey central return. The priests and the parishioners decided to build a Town Hall in Swinford to be used for public and private events. The main promoters for this build were Dean Staunton, John P O’ Connor, Thomas Morrin, James Dolphin, Andrew Kelly, Micheal Mulligan and Micheal Howley. They created a Limited Liability Company. They offered the public one thousand shares which were 1 each. The locals purchased this offer readily. The site that the Town Hall is built on was donated by Bernard Cunniffe. The building was built between the years 1909- 1910 and was extended in the year 1911.
The original building had a two-storey structure which had: Four clubrooms, a concert hall with lounges and a balcony, a supper room that could accommodate two hundred people, but this was later turned into a squash court.
A board was formed and there could not be fewer than five or more than twenty on the board. To be a Director you had to own at least thirty shares and you had to be elected at the Director’s meeting. The first Directors were chosen by the shareholders were the seven promoters mentioned above as well as James Barrens, Micheal Hurst, Joseph Mellett, Patrick Durkin, and Francis Keane. A secretary was also employed. Their occupation consisted of supervising lettings, functions, managing the hall and doing the accounts. The role was taken on by Andrew Casey who worked as the secretary for thirty years. When he retired from the post, Andrew Mulrooney took over.
Swinford Hall was used as a home to town clubs. It was a meeting place and a venue for concerts plays, dramas and dances. Because of the facilities the Town Hall provided, there were a lot of clubs in Swinford. Some of these clubs included billiards, snooker, poker, scouts, boxing, badminton ICA and GAA. But overall the Hall was best remembered for its dances, specifically “Directors Dance”, which was an annual event held where people would travel for miles to attend.
The Town Hall was also used in 1951 when a group of young men, Brian Rowley, Caoimhin Campbell and John Durkin started holding Céilí Dancing classes inside the Town Hall. Their attendance was very high as large crowds attended these classes. The classes then later expanded from being held in the Town Hall to being held in houses and school all around Swinford. Pub sessions were also held in “Padraig Horkan’s”. Because of all this activity, the decision was made to create a Comhaltas Branch. Because of the use of the Town Hall in the 1950s, the Fleadh Cheoil in Swinford is still present today
The Town Hall was also built to recall the Hibernian Bank that was on the Main Street. The townhall’s decorative timberwork and the elegant doorcase confirm the recall of the Bank that was on the Main Street.
On the 5th of August 1980, the directors decided to dispense of the property. They did this due to the rising costs, the decline in the popularity of dances and there was less support from the people. The Town Hall became a furniture shop but now it remains unused.
The building has a hipped slate roof with a pitched slate roof, it has clay or terracotta ridge tiles as well as a Red Brick English Garden Wall chimney stacks. The chimney has stringcourses below supporting the yellow terracotta tapered pots. The replacement uPVC rainwater goods are on timber eaves boards that are slightly overhanging some timber boarded boxes. Therefore, the paired timber consoles are retaining the cast-iron downpipes. There is ivy covering roughcast walls on a rendered chamfered plinth as well as rusticated rendered piers. This corners the supporting rendered band to eaves. This building has a round-headed central door that opens with a step threshold. This surrounds the keystone which frames the timber panelled double doors by having overlight. On the first floor, this building has camber-headed window openings centred on a camber-head opening behind an iron balconette which opens to side elevations. The townhall has dragged cut-limestone sills on the aprons. It also has one-over-one timber sash windows.
The interior includes a central entrance hall with door openings that are framing timber panelled doors. The street is fronted with tarmac with a footpath to the front of the door. These designs uphold the character of a Town Hall which makes it a very pleasing structure to look at whilst passing in the street
Joseph Cairns was an assistant county surveyor. He was born in 1871 in Dillion Terrace, Ballina. He was based in Ballaghadereen from 1900 until 1907. He was an architect for the Swinford Board of Guardians from 1902 until 1912.
• Swinford Library and Cultural Centre
• Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1940
• Michael Mayes’s Photo Blog – Swinford Comhaltas
• Google Images
• National Inventory of Architectural Heritage