Big hopes for Port athletic club

The athletic club in Portarlington is among the buildings to receive a “Dirty Old Towns” makeover, but bigger and better things could yet be in store.

The athletic club in Portarlington is among the buildings to receive a “Dirty Old Towns” makeover, but bigger and better things could yet be in store.

Margeret Guijt Lawlor, DOT project leader for what many know as the boxing club, says the committee are talking with Laois Partnership about the possibility of a €250,000 grant to completely refurbish the two storey building.

“We thought it was really off the cards, but I believe we can dip into a different pot, not for sport, but for heritage,” she said.

The building would be multi-functional, with possibilities of a theatre on the first floor.

“We could put in a youth club, there is definitely a call for a drop in centre, and it would be a perfect location for the ‘manshed’ project,” she said.

Works would include making the building wheelchair accessible, new heating, lighting, floors and a small kitchen.

“The basic structure is fairly sound. The saving grace is the new roof that was installed twenty years ago, around the same time they took the roof off the travel goods building (Arlington House),” she said.

She says though Port has several halls, it would be well used.

“There is always a need for more. Even small conferences could be held there. It would be a lovely location,” she said.

With the publicity around the building’s boxing past, she says a lot of young people have been asking about it.

“It could be used as a boxing club again, it would cater for a lot of kids, even just to hang out there. it’s not being ruled out,” Ms Lawlor said.

The building is owned by the Athletic Club, whose five trustees have given their full consent to the refurbishment.

“It doesn’t really fit any of their needs, what they really need is a field and a running track. It is a huge club, they are winning all kinds of awards, with a very active committee,” she said.