A multi-purpose facility in the heart of Mullingar
Columb Barracks Restoration & Regeneration Committee
We are the Columb Barracks Restoration & Regeneration Committee that is made up of volunteers and we are extremely passionate about seeing this former army barracks transformed into a hub to the local community for the twenty-first century and beyond.
Columb Barracks is the home to 19 community organisations such as the award-winning Olympic Boxing Club & Mullingar Shamrock’s training ground. You can see a full list of everyone here.
We are looking for more community organisations to join us at Columb Barracks, so if you know any that are considering looking for a new home, they would be welcomed here with open arms.
A vibrant community-owned and operated centre, providing education and other community services, based on renewable energy, zero waste and other environmentally sustainable and economically viable activities and practices; and capable of being an agent for the spreading of these practices and ideas, and for the transformation of Mullingar into a twenty-first century transition town.
What should we have in the Columb Barracks Centre?
The following is a list of types of activities which should, as far as possible, be accommodated in the rejuvenated Columb Barracks Centre:
- All of the existing activities
- A hostel, small hotel, bed-and-breakfast establishment or self-catering apartments for tourists and visitors; and these residential facilities should include a small number of apartments designated for short-term rental, and available for occasional use as guest facilities by residents of the permanent living accommodation
- Some permanent living accommodation for a small number of families, older people, younger couples and other residents to provide an appropriate mixture and diversity and to ensure that there will always be people working and living in the Centre
- Short-term living accommodation for the rehabilitation of people and families who have lost their homes for financial or other reasons, who are going through a traumatic stage in their lives, and who could be assisted by both short-term accommodation and counselling in the Centre
- An outreach educational and teaching centre, formally linked to the Athlone Institute of Technology or to another third-level educational college, with additional links to one or more university research and teaching faculties (e.g., UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy), so as to provide in Mullingar a variety of courses covering essential future skills, environmental education, zero-carbon lifestyle education, urban planning, and other topics of value to the transformation of Mullingar as renewable-energy-based zero-waste town
- A practical demonstration and climate action research centre, exploring ways of reducing carbon emissions from buildings and from our current lifestyle, and serving as a meeting place or “home” for a Midlands “think tank” which would examine and promote ways to innovate and fast-track methods for the use of renewable and recycled materials in buildings and infrastructure, and would help to develop micro-energy grids not reliant on fossil fuels (in association with SEAI)
- Sports facilities complementary to those which already exist in the town of Mullingar; e.g., tennis courts, basketball, jogging track, multi-purpose sports pitch, etc.
- A publicly accessible aerobic fitness or exercise area, for adults and young people, similar to those in many small towns and city suburbs throughout Ireland
- Museum and art gallery, including a museum based in the historic jail building, to display and inform local people and visitors about the military history of the town of Mullingar, and to showcase the achievements of entertainers, sportsmen and sportswomen, and other prominent people associated with Mullingar
- A small library, complementary to the excellent library operated by Westmeath County Council in the nearby County Buildings, but specialising in the provision of information relevant to the activities listed in the Vision statement
- Workshops for artists; for example, pottery, painting, sculpture, weaving, woodwork, metal work, other craft work, workshops for cycle repair, household equipment repair, furniture repair, exchange of household goods and equipment (to promote recycling and re-use of items which would otherwise be sent to landfill or incinerated)
- Concert and theatre space, and rehearsal space (for dance, music, etc.) to serve the needs of Mullingar
- An area for organic vegetable and fruit growing; providing a centrally located supply of safe organic food
- A weekly or daily food market, based on local produce
- A small restaurant or café, locally operated, serving local produce and providing a place for people to meet and relax.
Appropriate renewable energy
The Columb Barracks Centre will apply to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) for a grant to help prepare an Energy Master Plan, to determine the most appropriate renewable energy sources for the Centre as a whole, and for the establishment of a Sustainable Energy Community (SEC). Sources such as solar, wind, and biomass will be explored as potential sources of renewable and sustainable energy.
The SEC partnership approach being promoted by SEAI is intended to enable bottom-up community energy solutions. Such a task cannot be achieved in isolation, so SEAI wants to partner with willing communities in planning for their energy future, and SECs who are already in the SEC Network are encouraged to enter into a partnership with SEAI. The Mullingar Barracks Centre will aim to provide such a partnership.
Water supplies and water conservation
Some of the roofs of the existing buildings are suitable for rainwater harvesting which should be considered as an important source of water to help reduce the cost of a mains water supply.
Given the growing awareness of the need to conserve water, especially as summers are becoming warmer and drier as a consequence of climate change, the Centre should become an example of water conservation in action, by, for example, reducing leaking in the water distribution system, and installing low-flush toilets and low-flow showers and taps.
You can read more about our vision here.
The Columb Barracks Restoration and Regeneration Committee is under no illusion that turning our vision into reality will not be an easy task. There will be much work to do, and many obstacles and challenges, and the Committee will need as much help and assistance as possible. We will identify and prioritize these obstacles and challenges and will strive to overcome them to the best of our combined abilities, so as to achieve the vision we have created.
Our aims, therefore, include making contact with, and establishing a working relationship with, relevant statutory and voluntary organisations, and identifying all useful sources of information, support, assistance and aid at local and national levels.
What do you think of our vision for Columb Barracks?
Get in touch as we'd love to hear from you...