President Higgins opens McAuley Place

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins came to Naas last week to hear of the work done to create a unique community enterprise accommodating living units for older people as well as community facilities.

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins came to Naas last week to hear of the work done to create a unique community enterprise accommodating living units for older people as well as community facilities.

The development is something of a work-in-progress with more facilities either being developed or planned.

However those already in place include 53 apartments, a community centre, an arts and culture centre and the convent tea rooms.

McAuley Place, as it’s known, was built on a former convent and parish centre which is some 150 years old and was developed by the Nas na Riogh Housing Association (NnRHA) with voluntary effort, money donated by the public and State aid.

The NnRHA place great emphasis on the intergenerational ethos of the project which means that people of all ages use the centre and the volunteers stress the importance of “wellness not illness.”

The centre also encourages creative art among people of all ages and those who contributed to a tapestry hanging there range in age from 10 to 85 years old.

This is European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between the Generations and President Higgins also planted a tree to mark the next phase of the development - a Health through Learning Centre in a derelict but beautiful old building and an interactive garden.

“I’m moved by the philosophy of the centre and when I got the invitation to come here I was struck by the spirit of the letter and the reference to creativity and inclusivity. The vision here is to bring older people into the heart of the community,” President Higgins told assembled guests in the arts and culture centre.

He added: “ Creative and active citizenship is one of the greatest assets we can have and it is very necessary to see all citizens as having boundless possibilities. All of us are here as humans to need each other.”

He told the politicians present to “take this as an example of what should be done around the country.”

NnRHA chairperson Margharita Solon praised the work of the volunteers at McAuley Place, which she described as a place “we would choose to live in.”

Paul O’Meara - paul@leinsterleader.ie