Years of ‘pestering’ by the Presentation sisters have resulted in the opening of a spacious new community centre for O’Moore Place and Lakeglen in Portlaoise.
The centre was to be opened by Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan, but with the government reshuffle making him Minister for Justice on on the same day last Friday July 11, council chairmanJohn Joe Fennelly did the honours.
“This is partnership in action between Laois Partnership and Laois County Council. Access to a community centre is the first step in building a vibrant and energetic community,” he said.
Vibrant was the word. The sunlit centre at the end of O’Moore Place, formerly a closed down HSE disability centre, was packed with families for the official opening.
Refurbished with €106,000 from the Rural Development Programme, It has a main room that can be divided in two, offices, a computer room, a kitchen and a big garden.
It is home to a preschool and homework club which had been in cramped conditions at No 52 O’Moore Place since 1989.
Now there is space for all the children as well as music and horticulture classes, club meetings and sports.
“The children are not as confined, we have space to cook healthy meals and they have space to run around,” said part time childcare worker Ann O’Keeffe.
SrMary and Sr Kathleen who ran the childcare centre until it was taken on by Laois Partnership in 2009, came up with the idea of moving to Aras Eoghain, empty since 2007.
CEO Ann Goodwin happily put the new centre down to their “pestering”.
“They may seem sweet and mild but not when it comes to getting their own way,” she laughed.
“Already it has become a hub of activity”, said LPC Chairperson Michael Bergin.
“This land was always known as the plots, the people’s land, then the HSE had it. For it to be given back to the people inthis form is brilliant, it gives us a great sense of pride,” said Lakeglen resident Teresa Carroll.