The foundation stone for a new Catholic Parish hall in Margaret Street was laid on January 31, 1932 and Archbishop Hayden congratulated Dean Hennessy on making the “erection of this splendid property” possible.
Much pomp and ceremony occurred on the day, led by the St Joseph Band and the Children of Mary.
Crowds, made up of the Catholic community of Launceston including the Hibernian Society, marched from the Deanery in York Street to the site of the hall on Margaret Street.
This hall was to become St Ailbe’s Hall, a hub for Catholic parishioners young and old.
Designed by the architect Mr HS East and built by Mr HM Quinn, construction was completed by May of the same year.
Costing over £5000, funding was partially raised through bequeaths from William Dargan’s estate and the Bourke family.
Remaining funds were raised by St Vincent de Paul and other kindred organisations and the church itself. Even the parish of Glenhuntly, Victoria contributed £110 toward the building costs.
The design would provide seating for 570 people in the main stadium, with several ante-rooms, a kiosk and upstairs private seating for 12.
The Mayor, Mr AW Monds stated it was an asset to Launceston’s architecture.
Not only an asset to architecture, the hall was also an asset to the local economy and employment, with everything except for the electric lights, sanitary fittings and the kiosk roller doors sourced and made in Launceston.
Launceston tradesmen also provided manpower and finishings.
Mr Ikin was responsible for copper work, piping and ventilation and Mr Jackson provided locks and handles for doors and windows, the latter provided by Barrengers and Landsell.
The electric lighting was fitted by Mance Electricals, which like the other firms, still works in Launceston today. Other well known companies such as Coogans and Bills & Co provided the furniture and soft furnishings.
Over the decades the hall played host to weekly activities for all ages.
Newspaper reports name sporting events, balls, parties and award ceremonies. Students from the various Catholic schools also used the hall for sports and for choir practice.
The hall continued to be a meeting place through the decades, remembered for hosting dances in the 1950s and ‘60s such as the Coca Cola dances.
In modern times the hall has hosted flower shows, books sales, clothing markets and poetry slams and has certainly proved an integral part of the Launceston community.