The old convent school in Rathdowney will soon be home to a vibrant new youth centre, thanks to a €50,000 grant of public money.
Rathdowney Youth Café is set to open its doors next September, hopes Fine Gael councillor John King.
It will cater for 250 people aged from 14 to 25 living in and around Rathdowney.
“I am delighted this money has been secured. We have the playground here in Rathdowney for ages 4 to 12, and we have GAA and soccer but for young boys and girls not into sport, there is nothing. This will give them an opportunity to meet and form friendships and develop as young people,” said Cllr King, chairman of Rathdowney Vision Group who with Youth Work Ireland and Ossory Youth Services, are behind the project.
The café will be similar to the hugely successful one in Portlaoise, with live music, pool and air hockey, free wifi, workshops and Wii, Xbox and Playstation, with comfortable seating to also just hang out and chat, all carefully supervised by trained local volunteers.
The first step will be forming a committee in the spring to oversee renovation work in the old school, which has been leased for the long term from the parish.
The school already hosts Rathdowney Men’s Shed and a community creche, and three classrooms have been assigned for the youth café.
“We will put in a kitchen, heating if necessary and furnish it,” said Cllr King.
He thanked parish priest Fr Martin Delaney for his support, Deputy Charlie Flanagan for helping to secure the funding, and Joe Thompson from Portlaoise Youth Café who will be advising on the set-up of the club.
“I have no doubt it will be put to good use, it is badly needed,” said Cllr King.