Published: 16/03/2012 09:26 - Updated: 16/03/2012 10:09

Kirkmichael locals urged 'Save our special place'

Kirkmichael Hall, affectionately known by locals as The Green Hall. NS
Kirkmichael Hall, affectionately known by locals as The Green Hall. NS

FOR nearly a century it has stood at the heart of an upland glen, providing a place for local folk to gather.

Now, those who run Kirkmichael Hall are issuing a battle cry for the local community to unite to protect the amenity for generations to come.

A question mark hangs over ‘The Green Hall’, so-named because of its distinctive colour, as not enough people are willing to join its committee.

Should that remain the case after its AGM on March 30, it will close.

At the moment, locals Pat Bailey McKay, Annie MacClellan and Julianne Irvine are the only three people on the committee.

“It really is a case of use it or lose it, we are really at that stage. We just can’t keep it going on our own but it is a hall that we think is worth fighting for,” said Annie.

“We are just crossing our fingers that we get a good turnout for the meeting. We want people to come along so we can all make this work.”

The hall – situated on the B9136 to the south of Tomintoul Distillery – was built in 1922 when a meeting of local residents gave their unanimous backing for the facility.

A group of ex-servicemen oversaw the work and within 10 months the hall was up and running, its first functions being a children’s party and a dance on Boxing Day of that year.

More than nine decades on, children’s parties remain a regular feature at the hall, as are Hogmanay bashes, barbecues, private functions, ceilidhs, meals, walking gatherings and more.

Situated next to the former Kirkmichael Church and within a stone’s throw of its historic churchyard, it has also hosted wedding dances, funeral teas and popular Hallowe’en events over the years.

Distinctive because of its open fire and wooden interior, the women said it is hard to beat the feeling of entering the building as the wind rages down the glen or snow coats the countryside.

“It really is a special little place, it has such a good feel,” said Pat. “However, people have other things to do; they are busy. They will do all they can to help, but they don’t want to be on a committee.

“If we have the numbers, it is not a big responsibility, so we are having this AGM at the end of the month to try and get more people involved. Three people just can’t do it alone.

“We rely on the fact that we have charitable status but there is paperwork involved. We are all busy, but if we get enough people interested and share it out then it is manageable.”

Otherwise, she fears history could be repeated and the hall will fall into disuse, as was its fate in 1953.

It wasn’t until 1992 that a new committee formed and set about raising funds to breath new life into the river-side building.

Three years later, Kirkmichael Hall was reopened complete with electricity, a new kitchen and toilets.

As well as regular community events, it has since been used as a base for Crown Estate volunteers and Royal Engineers volunteering on the estate.

“Structurally it is sound but it does need a bit of maintenance,” said Pat.

“It just needs a little bit of TLC. The water supply needs to be upgraded and it needs a good lick of paint,” Annie added.

Regeneration work means the communities of Kirkmichael, Glenlivet and Inveravon are reviving, they said, and the hall is a ‘magical resource’ that shouldn’t be lost.

The March 30 meeting gets underway at 7.30pm and everyone is welcome. Those who can’t make it, but who would like more information should contact Pat on 01807 580362.

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