Three years in the planning stage, the Place 4U community centre in Clonmel finally become a reality on Monday morning when the first part of the centre, the Cafe for the Active Ageing, opened its doors.
A buzz of conversation rose from the happy, smiling faces who poured into the centre in a steady stream from 10am, as the former Nuns Chapel in Morton Street was transformed into a meeting place for the town’s senior citizens.
“The first day has been a great success, we’ve been rushed off our feet all morning”, said Mary Campbell, chairperson of the Place 4U cafe.
The cafe, which is now open to the active ageing from 10am to 1pm from Monday to Friday, has the potential to improve and enhance the quality of life of those who are getting on in years.
“The whole idea is that people need never feel lonely again. They have somewhere to come and meet people, have a chat over a cup of tea or coffee and engage in new activities. You’re never too old to do that and we hope people will avail of this facility”, said Mary.
Those activities promise to be wide and varied. With the help of the local library a book club will be launched, while Banna Chluain Meala will arrange music sessions.
Card games will be organised and a public health nurse will attend to give talks and information meetings.
Mary Campbell hopes that the centre will be the springboard for other activities such as trips to the cinema and flower arranging. She’s also hopeful that the book club will inspire people to write their memoirs and pass on their life’s experiences to the younger generation.
The centre is staffed by a team of volunteers who are looking forward to catering for all their visitors.
The chapel was converted into a cafe at a cost of €100,000. For two nights a week, and on Saturdays, it will double up as a youth cafe, Place 2B, which is expected to open at the end of September.
The money for the cafe was raised through the generosity of the local community by the Place 4U Charity Trust, which has been fundraising since 2008.
The next phase is the conversion of the convent building that fronts Gladstone Street into the community service centre.
This will cost €650,000, and with the committee receiving confirmation of a €500,000 grant from South Tipperary Development it’s hoped to commence the project very soon and have it up and running in 18 months.
The next fundraiser will be an Irish Music Busking event that will be held by the young people of the town on the streets of Clonmel on Saturday, October 1st.
Meanwhile, the cafe’s mission statement is “providing the people of Clonmel with a unique space which is pleasant, secure and with an atmosphere that encourages fun, friendship and creativity for those directly involved, and which enhances the overall town of Clonmel by its members’ contribution to the arts, crafts and cultural/social attributes of the community it serves”.
If the first morning was anything to go by then the cafe is already well on its way towards accomplishing that mission.