The old schoolhouse which counts Irish war poet Francis Ledwidge among its past pupils, has been given a new lease of life as a funky youth café in Slane.
Opened early in 2015, the Foróige Youth Café provides an informal gathering space for teenagers between the age of 12 and 17 in the Meath village.
“The space belongs to them. It’s all bright colours and everything is young and funky, even the chairs,” explains building organiser, Regina Smyth.
Five years ago a group of concerned locals approached youth organisation, Foróige with a view to establishing a local branch.
Regina was one of six adults who underwent youth training and the newly formed club met weekly in the parish hall.
“We reached capacity quickly and they loved being there but they wanted a better space that they could call their own,” Regina recalls.
The historic old school, a heritage building in the heart of the village, was earmarked, but in need of extensive renovation.
A €50,000 grant from the Department of Health and Children’s Youth Capital Funding scheme, administered by Pobal and supported by the National Lottery kick-started the work.
Slane Community Development Forum secured a further €30,000 from Slane concert promoters, MCD ahead of the Eminem’s appearance in 2013.
Poignantly, the family of one of the founder youth leaders, who died tragically of cancer, raised an additional €20,000 for the project in her memory.
Today, the café, fitted out with music, lighting, outdoor and indoor play facilities –even a Karaoke machine-is used by teenagers every Wednesday and Friday night.
“Because Slane doesn’t have its own secondary school, the Foroige Youth Café is a really important space where the teens can be together and stay in contact with each other,” says Regina.
Approximately 30 cents of every €1 spent on games go back to National Lottery funding for Good Causes in the areas of sport, youth, health, welfare, education, arts and heritage.
Over €5 Billion has been raised for Good Causes since the National Lottery was established 30 years ago. In 2016 alone, the National Lottery raised over €210 million for such good causes.