Aras Eoghain Community Centre in Portlaoise underwent a significant refurbishment in 2014 with the support of Laois Partnership through the Rural Development Programme. The center is now a well equipped facility serving the local community in O’Moore Place and beyond. It is now a genuine multi-use community centre which serves a diverse range of projects including:
- Afters Schools and Preschool Programmes
- The O’Moore Place/ Lakeglen Womens Group
- Teen Time Club
- Various Other Training Programmes
Aras Eoghain was originally built by the HSE as a training centre for people with disabilities. It closed in 2007 and the building was lying idle. At the same time, the Presentation sisters were developing a much needed community space 52 O’Moore Place. This included after schools and preschool facilities and a community centre for residents of O’Moore Place and Lakeglen.
As demand for the services grew, the sisters felt that the community needed a bigger space and that Aras Eoghain was the ideal solution. They approached Laois Partnership in 2009 inviting them to manage the childcare programmes. Simultaneously, Anne Goodwin, CEO of Laois Partnership approached the County Manager to lease Aras Eoghain at a nominal rent for 10 years with a view to using it for community development and childcare projects. The building needed a major refurbishment and Laois Partnership provided funding of €106,000.00 for its renovation under their Rural Development Programme. Matching funding was provided by the local community through contributions built up over a number of years.
At the official opening, Michael Bergin, chairperson of Laois Partnership Company said “Already, since its refurbishment, the centre has become a hub of activity for local residents. The after schools and preschool projects moved in at the end of last year and are now able to facilitate extra students as a result of the extra space. The O’Moore Place/Lakeglen Women’s group meet there weekly and a Teen Time club for younger people has been set up. In addition, a FETAC level 3 in Horticulture has taken place there