There is a bit of a furore at present over the proposed ownership arrangement for the National Maternity Hospital, which is to be leased by the State for €10 per year for 299 years. It seems like a bargain - but, as we’ve learned, all is not as it seems.
However, a genuine bargain is being offered in Macroom as the Briery Gap Theatre will be made available to the local council for a nominal yearly rent of €500 per year for the next 30 years.
The proposal to lease the building - which currently resembles a vacant lot as the refurbishment work begins to step up a gear - comes before the local council this week.
Given that the State is investing upwards of €5m on rebuilding, effectively, the theatre, library and arts centre which was badly damaged in a fire in 2016, this isn’t a bad deal at all, it seems to me.
There’s an unquestionable need for the Briery Gap in the town as the local population has felt the absence of a theatre and music performance space keenly since 2016. Shows like ‘Sir Henry’ have been staged in The River Park Hotel and other venues but while these venues are fine as provisional venues, they don’t beat the real thing.
‘Shame The Devil’, another show from the team that brought us Sir Henry, has played well over in Coachford and will likely be staged in the Opera House later this year, is another which would have been welcome in the Briery Gap.
Speaking about The Briery Gap, I was approached by local TD Michael Creed recently who gave me an earful about TC Murray, the local school teacher, who taught in Rathduff, and playwright. Did I know that TC Murray had been an Olympian? He had competed in the art competition in the 1924 Olympics which were held in Paris. Back then, as in ancient Greece, the Olympics had a strong cultural element. Thomas Cornelius entered the ‘Literature’ section of the Art competition with his plays, Maurice Harte and Birthright.
Given that The Briery Gap is to be completed by 2024, the centenary of that Olympic Games, maybe the opening could be marked by the production of one of TC’s plays?