For “Caring for Repairing” our 2022 Féile/Festival, St James’s Hall, Kilbeggan became the main site for our exhibitions and events.
Working with architect Ana Filipovic and Men Shed, Mullingar on the exhibition build, we transformed the hall creating a series of modular winged, wooden panels, that allowed for our research and mapping of local repair economies to be contextualised within wider histories environmental movements, the Right to Repair and consumptions studies.
As part of the Féile programme we also hosted an number of workshops, talks and performances and panel conversations.
Hosting a conversation with Melaine McQuade, Westmeath CoCo Heritage Officer, Kilbeggan Development and Preservation Association and Graeme Hogg, vintage cinema researcher and founder of the Cube Cinema Bristol, we specifically addressed how the halls restoration and position within our collective social history could be reimagined.
Working with Graeme, spotlighted some of the key artefacts that are relevant to the cinemas history. Showcasing them within the main exhibition and bringing to light some of the old advertisment film reels that we found in The Projector Room, that would have played during and between films.
Over 2023, we will continue to work with local community partners by continuing to explore how we can support the repair and restoration of the hall, it’s cinema history and The Projector Room.
Built in 1944 during ‘The ‘Emergency’, St James’s Hall has for decades played a central role in the lives of Kilbeggan’s residents.
Defined by the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as an “interesting and competent exercise in Modernist design”, it reflects mid twentieth-century optimism, with its smooth linear features and symmetrical layout.
Beyond this expression the hall is one of largest of its kind in the midlands and holds many precious memories for local people. Once a thriving venue for bands and dances, theatre productions and musicals, the hall also operated as a cinema. Films were shown up to the 1960s and while this aspect of the buildings use stopped, it retained its central position in the locality functioning as disco, bingo, games hall and a spill-over space for Kilbeggan’s Secondary School before it moved into its new building.
Originally owned by the parish hall, it was sold in mid-2020 and bought by the community group, Kilbeggan Preservation & Development Association. Established in the late 1980s by local residents as a means to secure supports for historic buildings in the town, the Association currently manages the halls use.