Mountrath Community Forum members: Cllr James Kelly, Anne Delaney, Martin Meade, Catriona Delaney, Fr Joe Brophy, Geraldine Moore, Liam Byrne, Caroline Dunlea and Eddie Phelan
This Saturday December 16 is a big day for the small community of Mountrath in Laois.
At 2.30pm at the former Brigidine Convent and School, Mountrath Community Forum will officially launch it's new beginning as a vital Community Hub on Saturday December 16.
The launch happens on the day of Mountrath's Christmas Market, which runs from 12 noon until 4pm.
There will also be Carol Singing, a visit from Santa Claus, a Music Club Christmas Show, all ending with the lighting of the Christmas Tree and street fairy lights at 5.30pm.
The Brigidine Sisters who served and educated the town of Mountrath for generations, have given the community a generous gift this Christmas, that could boost the town for years to come.
Mountrath Community Forum has exciting new plans for the "vast facilities".
The new Mountrath Community Hub will provide facilities for clubs and societies, training courses, and community initiatives like Meals on Wheels, the Men’s Sheds and a school of music. Plans possibly include a day service for older people.
Martin Meade is Forum Chairman.
"Mountrath is home to Irish and European Kettlebells Champions, European Table Tennis Champions and now with these new facilities they will be able to take on the world," he said.
The transfer of the assets from the Brigidine Sisters and the Parish, to the forum, has taken six months of "tireless work" from all parties.
"We are delighted to announce that the facilities are now under the control of the Mountrath Community forum and will be used for the betterment of the community for years to come," he said.
The grounds will be held in trust by the Mountrath Community Forum for the benefit of Mountrath and will soon be available for use by the community as a whole once some renovations are complete.
"The unequivocal support from the Brigidine Sisters to the town of Mountrath and its surrounding locality has been overwhelming and humbling, but their remarkable gifting of this greatly needed facility, will provide multiple benefits to our small town. Mountrath is a get-up- and-go community, is independent, passionate and vibrant. Waiting to be saved is no longer an option- we are doing it for ourselves," said Mr Meade.
Formed in 2015, the forum is leading a drive to revitalise the market town. The ten strong membership has already established a Men’s Shed, relaunched a bustling Cottage Market, secured training and helped rejuvenate the local Foroige club, carried out a Paint the Town Project, introduced a Flora and Fauna town beautification plan and funded woodcraft and horticultural courses.
The Forum has recently formed a new school of music, with already over sixty students learning instruments. The formation of a Community Enterprise Hub for cottage and start-up industries is underway at the old Telfords shop, and will allow a significant number of community groups get established with their own dedicated base of operations.
“We are a hardworking and energetic community and have not yet reached our potential. When we looked at what everyone was doing, we found that a lot of small groups were trying to do similar things, but in isolation.
"We came together to combine and support the efforts of groups in the community and to form private and public partnerships to access national funding and support for those groups. The fantastic generosity of the Brigidine Sisters gifting of this amazing resource, will provide a central and vital hub for community activities. It is only the beginning of our 5 -year plan,” Martin Meade said.