Happy 10th birthday, Cuisle!

The Cuisle 10th Anniversary celebrations on Friday last were a huge success, drawing almost three hundred visitors from all over Ireland to the Irish Wheelchair Association’s National Holiday centre in Donamon.    The atmosphere at the unique centre was wonderfully high-spirited and guests were treated to a great day of wonderful food, music and good company.   Mass was celebrated by Fr. Gerry McCarthy in the beautiful and serene chapel inside the Divine Word Missionaries buildings next to the centre and a barbeque overseen by Ray Keogh, in-house chef, followed despite the miserable, wet weather conditions.   Duty manager, Ms. Geraldine Coyne, was particularly happy with the day and felt proud to see such enjoyment and fun being had by all attending the celebration.   It is certainly a fantastic achievement for all the organisers, fundraisers and staff involved with Cuisle, to reach a ten-year milestone of excellent and hospitable service.   The centre, located on the picturesque and peaceful grounds of Donamon Castle, is the only one of its kind in the country and is a terrific amenity.    It was recently renovated and now contains 36 en-suite rooms with TVs, new bathrooms, conference facilities, a large dining area and an outdoor sitting area.   Chairperson of the Irish Wheelchair Association, Molly Buckley, says of the centre: ‘It’s very accessible and guests have the best of everything. There’s a wide variety of activities and always plenty to do.’   The central location of Cuisle means guests have the opportunity to travel to places like Knock shrine, neighbouring towns like Athlone and events such as the Roscommon Races with ease and comfort in one of the many specialised buses Cuisle provide. Even though the centre is run by the Irish Wheelchair Association and accommodates those with disabilities, Geraldine emphasises that it is open to anyone wishing to stay:    ‘It is important that people know that Cuisle is not just for people with disabilities. Absolutely anyone is welcome to stay here and many use it as base for travelling around Roscommon and other counties.’   The enormous success of the holiday centre is evident when you look at how far people travel for the superb and personal treatment they get at Cuisle.   Angela Moran from Tullamore has been going to Cuisle for three years and says: ‘I couldn’t say anything bad about here or the staff. The staff are everything.’   Bridie Meehan and Kathleen Doherty, members of the Manor Cunningham Centre in Donegal travelled the long journey for the festivities. While it was Bridie’s first time in Donamon, Kathleen has been a guest at Cuisle before and both had nothing but compliments and praise to say for Cuisle: ‘It’s really beautiful, very nice. The staff are lovely and the meals are as well. The surroundings are absolutely beautiful too.’  There are over twenty-five core workers along with many volunteers and according to Geraldine all are vital in the running of the centre: ‘We have a dedicated team of staff and thank God for the volunteers who give up their time and support.’   Funding is partly provided by the HSE, but there is reliance for financial support from other sources, such as donations and fundraising by the centre itself and other individuals.   Maureen Connelly, Assistant Living Co-ordinator, stressed that: ‘The money raised locally is used locally.’    She added: ‘Some people sometimes think that money donated is going to go all over the country, instead of (to) their local community. That isn’t the case here though.’   Many great fundraising events have taken place in the past; including coffee mornings and family fun days and hopefully for the future, generous financial support will continue for the centre, so it can carry on its fantastic and admirable work.    ‘We always have plans for upgrading and there’s always something to be done. From constant analysis of the centre and feedback from members, we try to keep on improving and developing’, says Geraldine.   Cuisle really is an amazing resource for our county and we should be immensely proud of it. It is heart-warming and admirable to see the work being done by all at the holiday centre in making the guests’ enjoyment top priority.   Everyone involved was certainly well entitled to enjoy the celebrations last Friday. They might not have had the weather but everything else was flawless and as visitor Bridie Meehan put it: ‘Sure you can’t have everything!’