Approaching the entrance to our Parish Centre, the first thing you notice is that there is a link building between the Parish Church and the Centre. This link was the idea of architect Maurice Fitzgerald. His suggestion that we locate the Parish Centre right beside the Parish Church was hugely imaginative. If the Centre had been built elsewhere in the Church Grounds (perhaps beside the Arch Club), it would have been quite remote from the Church. Now there is complete access from one building to the other.
In effect, what we now have at Saint Anne’s is a new entity: the Church – the place of worship, and the Parish Centre – the place where all kinds of parish and community activities and services will take place. The new entity also suggests a much richer idea of what it means to belong to the Church: as the Church we worship together and from our worship we are sustained, encouraged and challenged in our lives. Church also means building and nurturing a sense of community and looking after the needs of one another.
As you walk towards the link building you see a beautiful creation on the rectangular site between the Church and the Parish Centre: the Seaside Garden, designed and built voluntarily by two parishioners, Catherine McMahon and Betty Ennis. What could have been a pretty bleak and dark site has been transformed into a most beautiful space.
Continuing on into the Parish Centre, you reach the hub of the place: the Coffee Dock, the Reception Area, the Parish Office, the Brendan Heffernan Room and the largest room in the Centre, Teallach Áine.
The idea of the Coffee Dock is to have a place in the Centre where people can socialise after liturgies in the Church and after different activities in the Centre. Often we come together for many occasions and activities, we do what we came to do and then leave. Hopefully the Coffee Dock will help us make some time to relax and chat.
Our Parish Office is open from Monday to Friday, 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., providing a wide range of services. We also see it as an important place of Welcome and Information.
The Reception Desk is staffed on a voluntary basis by parishioners during the mornings from 10:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon. We are delighted with the level of support that parishioners are giving to this kind of service.
The Brendan Heffernan Room is named after our beloved late parish priest. It houses his personal and very wide ranging library. It is our hope that this room will also be accepted and used as a relaxing sitting room area which people are very welcome to use, especially during the day time. In the evening time, it will often be used for activities and meetings. With a lovely bay window and window-seat, it overlooks the courtyard garden. This garden is accessed from the Coffee Dock and from Teallach Áine through the patio doors, as an extension to these areas.
To the left of the Coffee Dock servery, is a door which leads to the other main part of the Centre. Off this long corridor are three multipurpose rooms (the Beach Room, the Lambay Room and the Moyne Room). These rooms are used for meetings, activities and classes.
The Haven and The Harbour are Counselling Rooms (in which sound reduction has been provided). There is a professional Parish Counselling Service on a low-fee basis.
Shalom is a very special room in the Parish Centre. It is a quiet room for reflection, meditation and prayer. It is a place of peace, sustenance and healing. The room contains four panels of the stained glass from the Old Tin Church.
This part of the building also includes a store room, utility room and fire exit.
All of us in Portmarnock are completely delighted with our Parish Centre. It has been beautifully and sensitively designed and built with great interest, commitment and pride. It is making a significant difference to the Parish. We thank parishioners for all their support and we thank everyone involved in the design and building and running of the Centre.
Adapted from the late Fr. Barry Murphy’s article “A Wish Fulfilled”, published in the “Saint Anne’s Parish Centre, Portmarnock, Blessing and Official Opening” Booklet 28 / 9 / 2002.