Old convent school in Rathdowney to be made youth cafe

Permission has been granted to convert the old convent school in Rathdowney into a creche, Youth Café and Men’s Shed.

Laois County Council have granted an application by the Rathdowney Vision Group, to change the use of the vacant convent school at Mill Street and Main Street to three separate community services.

Named on the application is Cllr John King, acting on behalf of the Rathdowney Vision Group, and Laois Partnership Company is listed as a funding body for the project. A letter of approval has been provided by the HSE, who approve of the widening of the vehicle access route, and a letter of consent has been given by Fr Martin Delaney PP Rathdowney, acting on behalf of Rathdowney Parish, owners of the old convent school.

It is proposed to subdivide the old school building into three uses: a creche comprising 163 m2, a Youth Cafe of 191m2, and a Men’s Shed 222m2 with a shed of 85m2 and a toilet block of 101m2. Works will include the removal of asbestos, an enclosed outdoor play area for the creche, the upgrade of toilet facilities and the installation of ramps.

A feasibility report by Evelyn Duff Architects said the building is “considered of significant heritage value”, and that work carried out will “ensure that the character of the structure is maintained”.

The original St John of God National School was built in Rathdowney in 1912, a single-storey primary school containing six classrooms which was extended during the 1980s. The school relocated in 2012 and the convent building was purchased by the HSE and occupied as a day care centre known as Erkina House.


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