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Published on Monday 6 October 2008 12:02

Many years ago a very determined lady, Sr. Catherine Gibbons had a vision to provide affordable childcare for the parents and children of Ballyshannon and its environs – last Saturday her dream was finally realised at the official opening of the Saimer Childcare Centre by Mayor of Donegal, Cllr. Gerry Crawford.

Originally the Saimer Childcare Group leased a premises on the Mall in Ballyshannon and the committee with the help of many volunteers renovated the building. At the time there was an existing childcare group in the town and both amalgamated and began to develop their services in the temporary building.

While this was definitive progress the group realised that this was not the final solution to a growing population and actively went in search of a site to construct a purpose built facility which could provide the services the town so badly needed.

Bishop Joseph Duffy on behalf of St. Macartans Diocesan Trust offered the group the site of the old De La Salle Secondary School (where many’s an accomplished scholar and skilled footballer spent their time) and with the help of €1.3 million from Pobal and various other contributions, the dream was realised.

After years of hard work, frustration, worry, despondency, elation and any other emotions that one can imagine, Ballyshannon now has a childcare centre the envy of the county.

Addressing the assembled councillors, parents and children, Mayor Gerry Crawford said. “This wonderful new premises a testament to the vision and commitment of those associated with the Saimer Childcare Committee.

“Central to the development of childcare in Donegal has been the amazing commitment of a large number of people at local level to the development of quality childcare.

“I would like to pay tribute to the present committee and also to those who served on previous committees her and whose commitment over a number of years ensured that this facility became a reality. Using the words associated with the late Martin Luther King ‘Sr. Catherine had a dream’ Today that dream has come to fruitition.

“I would also like to compliment the wider community of Ballyshannon for their unconditional support. This centre will continue to be an important local resource for future generations and will enhance the lives of parents and children for many years to come.”

The official opening was preceeded by a blessing, conducted by Frs Ramon Munster and Frank McManus. Valentine O’Kelly acted as a very capable MC with other speakers including Town Mayor, Cllr PJ Branely, Cllr Barry O’Neill, Gabrielle Doyle, chairperson of the Saimer Childcare Trust; Barney McLaughlin, on behalf of the Peace II funders.

Original Article from the Donegal Democrat Newspaper