The Laois School of Music has a secure home in Portlaoise town centre for at least the next three years, following a lease signing by its patron and Laois County Council.
The patrons of Laois School of Music have agreed a three year lease with Laois County Council on the old Scoil Mhuire primary school in Portlaoise.
The music school was run by the local authority but is now under Laois & Offaly Education and Training board.
The new lease will see the board pay €25,000 a year to the council for the building for the next three years.
The rent will go up after Laois County Council invests to renovate the building.
The deal was praised as good value by council members at the July council meeting.
Cllr Willie Aird proposed that they agree to the lease.
“We are being very reasonable at €25,000. The School of Music was handed to the LOETB. Last year a huge amount of people availed of their services. It is great that we bought that site. The old fort over the next 25 years will see huge development,” he said.
“It is very good value altogether,” said Cllr Tom Mulhall.
The Cathaoirleach Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald agreed.
“It is very good value. The school is part of our overall development, making our town attractive. This is a facility we are helping to operate,” she said.
She said that companies considering locating to Portlaoise look for such facilities.
“We are supporting a lot of sporting infrastructure too, it’s fantastic for the whole county. The benefit it brings is incredible. It’s great for the ETB and the council,” she said.
Cllr Noel Tuohy agreed.
“It is a most welcome development. The council is truly working with the community like their slogan says. €25k does not seem to be over the top,” he said.
The music school moved into the building inside the Fort Protector walls on Church Avenue last year. The building was bought by Laois County Council from the Kildare & Leighlin Diocese in 2018, with a view to developing the historic Portlaoise site as a cultural quarter.
Director of Services Donal Brennan explained the lease.
“It is a three year interim lease with the ETB because we are waiting to do structural work hopefully under the urban regeneration fund. Then we will negotiate a more realistic rent which will reflect the additional costs the council will invest in the site, with a view to a longer lease. We will have to get our money back. We will continue to work with the ETB on a non profit basis,” he said.
The school formed in 2001 and teaches professional music lessons in a range of instruments to over 300 children from Laois and the midlands.