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In Pictures: Large crowd at official opening of Vicarstown Canal Side Community Recreation Area

Sunday October 30 saw a big crowd in attendance for the official opening ceremony of Vicarstown Canal Side Community Recreation Area.

This amenity is an excellent example of the work of a community, which not only identified a need in their area but also worked tirelessly to address that need in difficult and challenging times.

It is an example of what can be done when communities and agencies work together to provide facilities that will benefit not just the people of the local area but also the surrounding communities and visitors alike.

The recreation area, located on the bank of the canal adjacent to Vicarstown bridge, was financed by CLAR funding.

It is uniquely designed by Brian Gaynor from Green Pine Consultants and constructed by Damien McCarthy Landscapes.

It is the ideal place to take a break, or bring children to play in a safe environment, where they can have hours of fun playing, fishing, exploring or simply enjoying a picnic.

It compliments all the other activities available in the village, and in particular the wonderful Barrow Blueway development which is now nearing completion.

John Scully, Secretary of the SVT Activity & Wellness Hub summarised the projects and initiatives undertaken by the SVT Hub in the Vicarstown area, which includes organised walks, junior parkrun, weekly cycling and the founding of the canoeing and kayaking club.

He thanked all who have assisted with the work of the Hub, in particular Caroline Myers of Laois Sports Partnership and Ann Marie Maher of Laois County Council.

He then acknowledged all who helped in the provision of the Canal Side Community Recreation Area.

Waterways Ireland, who own the site, generous benefactors who helped with match-funding, Ann Marie Maher and Laois County Council who helped with the grant application, Brian Gaynor who did the design, Damien McCarthy Landscaper who constructed the entire facility, and the Department of Rural and Community Development who provided the CLAR funding.

Ann Marie Maher, representing the Chief Executive of Laois County Council, complimented the Hub for the fine facility it has provided.

Laois County Council is promoting “natural play” as much as possible in all their facilities, and this is the major feature of the Canal Side Community Recreation Area.

An Cathaoirleach Thomasina Connell expressed her delight at being asked to open the SVT Canalside Community Recreation Area here in Vicarstown.

This project demonstrates the essence of the community spirit that exists here in Vicarstown and right across the county.

This project was granted funding of €50,000 from the Dept of Rural and Community Development under the CLÁR PROGRAMME which is aimed at boosting quality of life and amenities in less populated areas.

This amenity including natural the play trail has been constructed in keeping with the natural habitat of the canal side and compliments all of the activities of the Barrow Blueway.

It is hoped that it will be well utilised by the local community and visitors alike into the future.

Cllr Connell was assisted by local children in cutting the ribbon who immediately set off to play in a myriad of Halloween costumes.

Michael Creagh, master story teller from Rathdowney, entertained the younger folks from the story-tellers chair, and there was great engagement from these younger ones who really got into the Halloween spirit.

Refreshments were provided at the SVT Canoeing and Kayaking Clubhouse, and thankfully the rain stayed away for the entire ceremony.

The recreation area will be open every day during daylight hours and it is hoped that this facility will continue to bring fun and enjoyment to the families of and surrounding areas for many years to come.

Check out some great pictures from the event below:

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.