Concerned about the degenerating culture of his hometown Buncrana, Brian initiated the Plaza project by securing over €2.5 million from fundraising activities and through the support of his family firm to purchase a disused dance hall venue in the town.
Students in Crana College and in the surrounding area identified the lack of play, leisure and recreation activities locally as an issue. If they were not involved in sport in the area, there was nowhere for them to go.
The main hall in the venue was restored and opened for community activities such as dances and classes, concerts, choirs, exhibitions, trade fairs, boxing matches, plays, meetings and conferences.
However the smaller hall, dating back to the 1930s, was unused and Brian and others had the idea of using it as an innovative indoor street. The project initially faced numerous challenges; including a lack of funding, opposition from neighbours and apathy from the community; in 2008 a community meeting was held to try to save the project.
The concept was to provide a new resource for the young people of the town. The idea was for the smaller hall to have the appearance of a street, but with “Irish weather” it would have a glass roof. It was to have its own Bistro café, serving school lunches to a hundred or more during lunch hour, along with Skype Videophone screens affording full-size video conferencing between towns and even countries at almost zero running cost. Brain also planned for it to have a small proscenium arch area for small street performances.
The Plaza Buncrana is now owned by Indoor Street ltd, a registered charity which is owned by the entire Buncrana community. It provides resources and cultural facilities for the young people of Buncranca and also to the wider community. The ‘Drop-in Café’ provides a safe, low cost environment for local youth. Events held at the Plaza go towards supporting the venue as a community resource.
Brian, a graduate in Philosophy from UCD, also founded his own furniture business which employs 73 people in Donegal and Dublin.