The future of Derry’s famous St Columb’s Hall is now uncertain, despite plans revealed to the ‘Derry Journal’ last week to reinstate this grand theatre as a prominent live music venue for future generations.
Speaking yesterday, Fr Paul Farren, administrator of the Templemore, St Eugene’s and Colmcille parish, which manages St Columb’s Hall, described the colossal city centre venue as “an intolerable financial burden on the parish” and confirmed that several proposals for its future are under consideration.
“The reality is that, at the present moment, nobody has signed a lease for St Columb’s Hall, either short-term or long-term,” Fr Farren told the ‘Journal’ last night.
“The hall is an intolerable financial burden on the parish and a number of people are showing interest in the hall at the moment. The parish is doing all it can to secure the best possible future for the hall.”
“I would hope the future of St Columb’s Hall will be as noble as its past,” Fr Farren added.
Widely regarded as the ‘People’s Hall’, St Columb’s Hall was built in 1886, paid for by the people the Long Tower parish.
Last week the ‘Journal’ revealed ambitious plans for the building by Masons Bar proprietor Billy Campbell.
Now it has emerged that new proposals being considered by the Derry Diocese include a proposal from property developer Michael Taggart to turn the listed building into a restaurant and nightclub. Mr Taggart’s property empire was once valued at tens of millions of pounds but was placed into administration in 2008.
It is also understood that a new group calling themselves ‘Friends of St Columb’s Hall’ are currently mobilising in the hope of safeguarding the future of this important local landmark.