The following is an edited version with some additions of a Leinster Leader article on the official opening of Rathcoffey Hall from February 1952.
The new CYMS Hall in Rathcoffey was formally opened on Sunday 27th January 1952. It is an outstanding example of what could be achieved in a rural community. Four years previous the local CYMS branch decided to have a home of their own which would be worthy of their club and embarked on a campaign to get together sufficient funds to carry out the project. The result is one of the finest halls in the country.
Initially local people assisted on a voluntary basses but that plan was abandoned and it was decided to hire a contractor. The site consisting of one acre had been purchased some years preciously from Mr Bill Keeffe.
The hall is 70 feet long and 20 feet wide with a fully equipped stage. A section attached to one side of the hall contains a supper room, capable of seating 60 persons’. It has a well-equipped kitchen with a communicating door and service hatch. A section on the other side of the hall, contains the ladies cloakroom and the gents cloakroom with counters and shelving for coats, etc. Both cloakrooms are fitted with toilets and W.C.’s.
The hall is well lighted with electricity which is obtained from the plant of Mr Nulty which is on the site of the present Mill Complex in Rathcoffey Village. The building was designed by Mr McFadden and the work was carried out by Mr Paddy Bracken, Donadea, who made a very fine job of it to the satisfaction of all concerned in the project. The instillation of the lighting was entrusted to Mr Groome of Corduff, who spared no pains to see that no fault could be found with his work. Before the opening ceremony high tea was provided by the Ladies’’ Committee to those taking part in the ceremony.
The blessing of the hall was carried out by the Parish Priest of Clane, Fr. J. Doyle assisted by his curate Fr. W. Hughes. Other priest present included Fr. J. Leary also of Clane, Fr. Minnagh of Prosperous and Fr. Mooney a former curate in Clane who made the journey from Nurney. Present also were the National organising secretary of the CYMS Mr Drumm; the President of Kilcock CYMS, Dr G. O’Reilly, the Secretary of Kilcock CYMS, Rory O’Donnell and the President of Rathcoffey CYMS, Mr P. Frayne.
After this ceremony Mr Frayne spoke and said he was pleased to see the successful conclusion of four years organising on the part of the local CYMS. The building which was commenced in August 1951 was now completed and had cost about £3300, which many considered was a feat in itself. About one third of this money had being raised by the efforts of their members, the rest been made available by local people acting as guarantors until such time as the balance would be paid. He wished to pay tribute to the memory of the late Mr J. Cooney and the late Mr O’Neill pioneers of the movement from whom the idea of a Hall originated. He thanked the following: Fr Mooney during his time in the parish and Fr Doyle since he came to the parish; the guarantors without whom it would have been impossible to carry out the work and those who had given their time and their labour voluntarily in the initial stages; the ladies committee for their help without which their functions would not be the success they had proved themselves to be. Mr McFadden who designing the building; Mr Bracken for carrying out the building work in a very satisfactory and efficient manner, and his very helpful attitude in carrying out the wishes of the committee; Mr Groome who installed the electricity and Mr Nulty for his kindness in allowing then to connect to his plant for the electricity supply.
Fr Doyle complemented the CYMS and especially the efforts of Mr Frayne, he said he hoped that it would not only be a dance hall but a social centre where members could meet and enjoy themselves. A place such as this was required in rural areas to provide relaxation and enjoyment for the people of all the country. The bright lights and amusements of the city would not then have the attraction they now have for our young folk. Also there was the educational side, they had now a hall which agricultural and technical classes could be held if the demand was there for them.
There was a concert and play after the official opening with songs rendered by Mrs Robinson, Ballybrack; Mrs Byrne, Kilcock; Mr Del Weld, Ballinagappa; Mr Murphy, Ballymore Eustace and Mr Billy Byrne, Kilcock, Accompanist on the piano Mr Keogh, professor of music Clongowes Wood; Irish jigs and hornpipes by Donnelly troupe of dancers, the Misses McDonald and the Misses McLoughlin; jigs and reels by Misses Maura O’Reilly (Moortown); Aine Berns (Rathcoffey); Una Murray; Eileen Moriarty; Maureen Molloy; Mary Murray and Mary O’Connor (all from Baltracey).
The play ‘Paul Twyning’ was well received and the audience to judge by the roars of laughter enjoyed it to the full.
Rev Fr Doyle was a very efficient MC and at the conclusion thanked the audience for their support and on behalf of the CYMS and on his own behalf thanked the artists and the players for their fine performances. The proceedings closed with the National Anthem.
Rathcoffey Hall was now available for local functions and the following two events were publicised for early 1952:
Easter Sunday night 13 April 1952, St Teresa’s CYMS Rathcoffey GRAND DANCE in The Rathcoffey Ballroom. Music by Jonathan and his famous Orchestra. Dancing 9–3. Spot Prises. Maple floor. Admission 6 shillings. Supper extra.
Staptestown branch of Macra na Feirme DANCE in CYMS Hall Rathcoffey 23 April 1952. Dancing 9–3. Jim Dunny and his band with spinet organ. Admission 7/6.
Rathcoffey 1952, CYMS Committee:
Back row left to right, Mick Berns; John Behan; Tommy Brilly; Michael Behan (senior); Paddy Reilly; Matt Dunne; Bill Merriman; Jack Kinsella; Johnny Reilly.
Front row left to right, Peter Coonan; Jimmy White; Paddy Frayne; Fr. John Doyle; Michael Walsh; Ned O’Neill; Michael Behan (Junior).
Rathcoffey Hall 1952 Ladies Committee:
Back row: Molly Murray, Lil Gill (later Lee); Kitty Byrne (later Reid); Eileen Reilly; Joan O’Connor (later Flanagan);
Front row, Berry O’Brien (Later Mullally); Mary Travers (later O’Connell); May Coonan; Lucy Byrne; Cis Brilly; Sally White; Evelyn de Courcy; Mary Merriman; Sara O’Neill.
The author would welcome any additions to the above detail.