The local community in Ballydehob, County Cork are reaping the benefits of a recent energy upgrade carried out on the town’s cultural hub, the Ballydehob Bank House, which acts as a building for community and the arts.

  • €55k

    in government funds for retrofitting
  • 4

    EV chargers installed, alongside other works

About the Project

The Ballydehob Bank house building, a former AIB bank built in the 1950s, is located in the middle of the town of Ballydehob in West Cork. 

Heralded as the ‘most colourful building in West Cork’, the community purchased the former bank building with support from the Ballydehob Area Community Council. The goal was to re-purpose it as a community building. 

The community wanted to create a space for local groups and societies to meet and grow. Local community resident Brian Lalor came up with the idea of displaying old artifacts from artists who had lived in the area.   

“Artists, writers, creative people began to come to this part of rural Ireland in the 1960s, and I came up with the idea of creating a museum to gather in artifacts from all of those creative people.”
Brian Lalor, Curator of Ballydehob Arts Museum

The community were successful in bringing an old building back to life and giving it a new purpose in the community,  

Given the age of the building, it comes as no surprise that there was very little insulation and so very cold. The windows and doors were old and heat was leaking out everywhere. It lacked warmth and comfort. Something that really is necessary for a community hub.  

This is where SEAI was able to help. 

The SEAI Community Grant

The SEAI Community Grant supports new approaches to achieving energy efficiency in Irish communities. Each year, up to 40 energy efficiency projects are completed in communities across Ireland; managed by SEAI project co-ordinators who work directly with the community groups.  

William Swanton, Ballydehob Committee member, noted how it was a window salesperson who recommended the Community Grant as a potential route for getting the building upgraded.   

“He said to me one day, there's 27 windows and 4 doors here. You’ll be (spending) the next 20 to 25 years doing the windows and doors, and you still won't have insulation. 

So he told me about the community grant from SEAI. He gave us the contacts of SE systems (one of the project co-ordinators). That's how it started!” 

Ballydehob Bank house was granted €54,860 in government funds to complete an extensive energy upgrade. SE Systems, the registered project co-ordinators working on the building and provided additional funds to support the energy upgrades.  

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SEAI's Community Grant fund paved the way for a complete retrofit of Ballydehob Bank House

Energy upgrades carried out at Ballydehob

SE Systems upgraded the windows, doors, walls and the overall fabric of the building. The building’s cavity walls were pumped and three sections of flat roofs at the back of the building received warm roof insulation.  

Three heat pumps, four EV chargers and solar PV panels were also installed. The heat pumps provide heat and hot water for the building while the solar PV allows them to generate their own electricity and power the heat pumps and the EV chargers. Any excess electricity can be sold back to the grid.  


Following the energy retrofit, the Ballydehob community building is now a warm and comfortable place to visit and spend time at. The solar PV panels are generating more energy than required by the building, allowing the Committee to sell excess energy back to the grid. William uses the solar PV app to understand how much electricity the building is using at any given time.   

“There's an app on the phone. I can be at home and I can see how much [electricity] is being used. I can see how much was made every day, every month, every year, how much carbon we've saved. It's amazing.” 

What’s Next?

In addition to being a shared community space for Ballydehob, the former bank building now serves as a tourism office, community centre and art museum. 

The Ballydehob Community Grant project is one of 84 community or not-for-profit projects supported by SEAI in 2022 and 2023. 

SEAI continues to invite and encourage communities across Ireland to benefit from available supports, in the form of Community Grants. Communities can also join the Sustainable Energy Communities (SEC) network and can also receive community grants for future projects, yet to be completed.