Teach Saoirse respite centre for children with disabilities officially opened in Nenagh

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, James Reilly, along with Enable Ireland service user Kyle Heenan officially opened Enable Ireland’s newest respite centre for children with disabilities in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary today, Friday 18th September.

Known as Teach Saoirse, the purpose built facility provides services to 40 children with a range of disabilities and needs, from cerebral palsy to children on the autistic spectrum. The house can accommodate a maximum of five children at any one time in three bedrooms.  The house has been designed around the needs of the children staying there. There is a communal area where they can socialise together and also a specially designed sensory room where children can retreat to when they need some quite time. This is particularly important for children coming here who may be on the autistic spectrum.

The Minister spoke of the importance of respite services to families and children with disabilities “I am delighted to be here today to officially open this excellent respite centre for children with disabilities. Enable Ireland has always recognised the role of the family in providing care to children with disabilities and the need for respite for those families. At Teach Saoirse the children can have a positive and rewarding experience while at the same time the primary carer can have a much needed break.”

Stephen Clarke, aged 15, is a regular visitor at Teach Saoirse and stays there two nights a month. His dad, John, explains how Stephen, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, and had never spent a night away from his family until Teach Saoirse opened, “Going to Teach Saoirse is like a treat to Stephen. He has two overnight stays every month and he knows in advance the dates that he is going. As a father of a child with autism, there are huge benefits to Stephen being able to avail of respite. It goes beyond just Stephen and impacts the whole family. As parent of children with and without disabilities, we try to normalise life as much as possible for the whole family. We don’t seek out difference, as difference always presents itself with a child that has a disability. But when Stephen is in Teach Saoirse, we get the opportunity to be just a regular family without the guilt of feeling we have left him somewhere other than with us, because he loves the overnight experience so much in Teach Saoirse.”

Chairman of Enable Ireland, Donal Cashman said “Teach Saoirse would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of a local fundraising committee under the chairmanship of Bernard O’Neill. Together they raised nearly €230,000 and secured a site from Nenagh Town Council, which it generously donated. Today is an opportunity to acknowledge the hard work of a dedicated group of volunteers who over the last 10 years have worked tirelessly to makeTeach Saoirse a reality for these children.”

Enable Ireland Tipperary provides services to 132 children and their families in North Tipperary. In the last 10 years the focus of the service has evolved from the home where the emphasis is on meeting personal care and programme/therapy needs to community based activities such as accessing sports and recreational activities, after school and activity clubs.

About Enable Ireland Tipperary & Teach Saoirse


Enable Ireland currently provides family support and respite services for 132 children with disabilities and their families in Nth Tipperary.


A significant number of families identified the need for residential respite services for their children. In response to this, a group of volunteers came together in 2004 to form a fundraising committee to provide a purpose built residential respite house. This group, under the chairmanship of Bernard O’Neill, has raised €230,000 and secured the donation of the ‘Teach Saoirse’ site from Nenagh Town Council free of charge.


In 2010 with funding from the HSE, Enable Ireland rented Bayly Farm and commenced the provision of residential respite to 10 children. After nearly 10 years of enormous commitment by the fundraising committee, Teach Saoirse opened in 2014. Bayly Farm was then closed and the service moved to the new purpose-built centre.


Teach Saoirse, Joe Daly Rd. is a purpose built respite house which can accommodate up to 5 children a night. The building includes kitchen and dining area, communal area, multi-sensory room, bedrooms, office accommodation and a large outdoor enclosed play area.


Debbie Finn, Teach Saoirse Respite Coordinator, leads a team of 14 skilled and experienced staff to create a positive and rewarding experience for the children staying there who encounter major challenges on a daily basis.


With support of increased funding from the HSE, there are currently 40 children with a range of disabilities and needs, from cerebral palsy to children on the autistic spectrum, receiving an average of 70 bed nights a month in Teach Saoirse.


Teach Saoirse was designed by Lewis Shinnors & Associates Architects and built by McKeogh Brothers.


About Enable Ireland:


Founded in 1948, Enable Ireland provides services to over 5,200 children and adults with disabilities from 40 locations in 14 counties.


Our services for children and their families cover all aspects of a child’s physical, educational, and social development from early infancy through adolescence.


We offer a range of services to adults with disabilities which include day care training, personal development, supported and independent living, and social and leisure activities.


Enable Ireland is part funded by the HSE and other statutory agencies.


Every year we require over €2 million in additional funding to meet the costs of delivering our services. Without this additional income from our shops and fundraising we would not be able to meet the needs of the children and their families relying on our services.


We have a nationwide chain of 21 retail shops selling clothes, books and bric-a-brac, and raise funds through community fundraising, corporate and national fundraising.


The demand for our services continues to increase throughout Ireland. We have set ourselves the challenging goal of meeting these needs by providing a full range of high quality services, and expanding into local communities.


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