Turning back the clock to the Naas Summer Project

MANY of those associated with succcessive Naas Summer Projects (which ran from 1981 to 1996-97) held a recent reunion at the Osprey Hotel.

MANY of those associated with succcessive Naas Summer Projects (which ran from 1981 to 1996-97) held a recent reunion at the Osprey Hotel.

Summer projects started in Dublin but local teacher and then councillor Donal Corcoran proposed one for Naas to provide children and young teenagers with a safe environment that would interest and occupy them at little or no cost.

The projects also provided an alternative to sports clubs and expensive summer holidays.

The Naas Summer Project was unique in that it was run effectively and efficiently by a team of teenagers and adult volunteers and the initial committee members were Donal Corcoran who set up the Naas Summer Project, Joe Murray, Joe Curran, Kay Weberly, Anne Noone, John Whelan, Fintan Whelan, Martin Corcoran, Anne Marie Corcoran, Bridie Cassidy, Anne Cassidy, Anne Murray, Paula Murray, Rita Behan, Marie Behan, Mary Hayde, Chris O Neill, Fiona Shirran and John Kinchella.

It catered for children aged between 7 and 13 and featured discos, annual sports day and sport activities, fund raising events, cycle rallys, sponsored events, talent shows for children and leaders and a children’s pet show.

It was a voluntary project which relied on finance mostly from fund raising from the general public. Families were asked to pay a small admission fee for children. A small grant was provided by Naas Town Council, but most of its money came from activities such as the cycle rally which ran from Naas to usually Punchestown racecourse and it finished at Quinsworth, now the Blessington Road Tesco in Naas. The Co. Kildare VEC provided St Patricks post primary school free of charge for the project.

Everyone was expected to obey the rules of the Naas Summer Project.

There was a disciplinary procedure for dealing with infringements of the rules.

No chewing gum allowed in the project and bins were used for litter.

Bad language, rough play and bad manners were not tolerated.

The amount of children who joined the summer project varied very little year by year. The 1993 project had a total of 380 children and 80 leaders.

Training for leaders took place two evenings per week with a weekend away for leaders training was at the end of June each year.

The leaders were taught many skills such as leadership, team leading, motivation, planning, organising events and practicing the games played by the children as well as basic first aid.

Leaders were motivated by being able to implement their new skills with the group, having discos on a Friday nights, going on outings from time to time during the year.

They were also motivated by giving them certificates for attending and participating the leaders training course.

In the 1990s the Devoy Barracks gym was used for volleyball and other activities, Bus trips were organised to the seaside, Dublin museums, Clara Lara and other places of interest, home cooking was a big hit with the children as they got to sample their cooking. Parents volunteered to take small groups of children to their home for home cooking.

There was also a tuck shop run by Pat Murray assisted by Rita Behan and Mary Hayde.

On the last day of the project there was a mass for everyone and drinks and crisps were provided free of charge from the shop.

- Paul O’Meara