One of the most best known buildings in Derry city centre, St Columb’s Hall, is now owned by the Garvan O’Doherty Group, Fr Paul Farren told Mass goers at St Columba’s Church, Long Tower, at the weekend.
Until Friday, St Columb’s Hall has been owned by the Catholic Church but Fr Farren confirmed on Sunday that Mr O’Doherty now has “ownership and control” of the building.
In November last year, Fr Farren told parishoners that the hall was placing a great drain on parish resources and that the parish was considering options for its future.
Speaking after Mass on Sunday he said; “When I spoke to you in November about St Columb’s Hall, and outlined the difficulties that the hall posed to the parish over the years, I said that we were continuing to try to find a solution that would give a new lease of life both to the parish and to the hall.
“Over the last years a number of people approached with different and interesting proposals. These were examined and in depth discussion were had about their viability. Having considered them the conclusion was reached that the Garvan O’Doherty Group proposal was the best both for the hall and for the parish. This proposal required approval from St Columb’s Diocesan Trust and the charities branch. The approval of both has been granted and since Friday the Garvan O’Doherty Group has ownership and control of St Columb’s Hall.”
Fr Farren said that the debts accrued through the hall would be paid off and the money reinvested in the parish.
“This means that the future of the hall is secured and the necessary investment will be made to ensure the building is restored and maintained and developed into the future.
“It also means that over the next number of years our debt of £690,000 will be cleared and we will be in a position to begin again to invest in this Church and the people of this parish to ensure that we will build up the faith as we face the future,” he said.
He also said the move marks “a new chapter for both the hall and the parish”.