Mountrath in Laois has truly begun a new chapter today Saturday December 16, with the official rebirth of the Brigidine Convent and school as a vibrant community hub.
With a bustling Christmas market outside in the grounds, an audience clapped the moment as Sister Mary Sheehy representing the Brigidines, handed over a ceremonial key to Martin Meade chairman of Mountrath Community Forum.
Inviting everyone to give the forum a "bualadh bos", the Sister said they knew the convent and school were in safe hands.
"We wish you every blessing and success and we look forward to new life and hope in the future," she said.
Earlier Geraldine Moore secretary of the forum, said that handing over the large property to Mountrath community was "the greatest leap of faith thr Brigidine community has taken in Mountrath".
Fr Joe Brophy said it was "a powerful day", saying a prayer for the future.
Over 60 volunteers have been working in the hub in the past few weeks to ready it for its new life.
Though it has lain closed since 2009, the buildings are in sound shape and groups moving in immeduately include Mountrath Foroige, Red Cross and scouts.
The men's shed and Mountrath School of Music will also be based there, with many more organisations to join them.
Santa also visited on Saturday, along with many past pupils who enjoyed reminiscing about their education while touring the school. Entertainment was provided by Camross Comhaltas and the Cosy Cafe ensemble