The sun was shining and the flowers were in full bloom for the Ecumenical Service last week to mark the re-opening of the St Cronan’s Association Day Service in Syngefield, Birr following extensive renovations.
The beautiful ceremony conducted by Fr Tom Hogan, Fr Antony, Rev. Clodagh Yambasu, Rev. Janet White Spooner & Archdeacon Wayne Carney, was well attended by the local community, friends and neighbours.
The large crowd which attended was no surprise, given the long history and excellent service delivered by St Cronan’s over the decades. Almost 43 years ago, St Cronan’s Association began its work in the old sanatorium in Roscrea, supporting just three people. Over the years the Association has grown to support 133 people, employing 64 staff across four sites in Roscrea, Nenagh and Birr.
At the Ecumenical Service held in Birr last week, to open the newly renovated Birr service, Mary Smith, Chairperson of St Cronan’s Association said “If someone told me 43 years ago, that our service would stretch from Roscrea to Nenagh and to Birr, I would have found it difficult to believe, but this day has come”.
The Association opened their first service in Birr in 2002, after a needs assessment identified that people living with a disability wanted to receive their support within their own community. This finding is a key element of the current national policy New Directions, launched by the HSE to guide the delivery of day services in Ireland. In 2004, the Association opened a house in Syngefield, Birr and now 18 people from Birr town and the surrounding parishes of Kilcormac, Fivealley, Coolderry, Ferbane, Rathcabbin and Lorrha attend every day.
As the years passed, and the service grew, it became evident that extensive renovations were necessary and the required works were recently funded by the HSE. Mary Frend, Service Co-ordinator explains “The renovations included removing and raising the existing kitchen roof, removal of internal walls, installation of a new kitchen, dry lining and insulating some of the rooms, laying of new flooring, electrical work and painting inside and out. The work was conducted by John and Shane Cahalan over just five weeks and we are delighted with the end result”. It’s clear that the work has resulted in a brighter, fresher day service for the people who use it.
Joined at the service by Cllr Peter Ormond Cathaoirleach, Offaly County Council, and Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD, those attending were treated to song from the St Cronan’s Association choir and heard from Dessie McDonagh, a person using the Birr service, who spoke about how happy he was to see the newly renovated house where he loves to come to spend time with his friends.
Over the years, the service has supported people to reach their full potential, helping them to secure employment, work experience and to volunteer in their local communities. People using the Birr service engage in a busy programme of arts and craft, personal development, health and wellbeing activity, educational programmes including numeracy, literacy, cookery and IT skills and enjoy spending time in each other’s company. The successful relationships formed in the community were evident at the ceremony last week, which was attended by many community groups including the Banagher Knitting Club and Crinkle Ball Alley.
Dr Kathleen McLoughlin, CEO, expresses her appreciation to all who prepared for and attended the ecumenical service. She said “The day was a wonderful celebration of community inclusion and partnership working. The staff and people using the service worked so hard to bring all the elements together for us and I would like to thank them for their commitment and dedication to our service. We look forward to further developing our services across Tipperary and Offaly”.