The inclement weather failed to dampen the spirits of the children of Abbeylara last Thursday week as they gathered together at their new playground to witness its official opening by County Mayor Séan Farrell.
Proceedings got off to an hilarious start when the Mayor explained to the children that he had “come all the way from Newtowncashel” to join them for their special day, and when he asked them if they had ever heard of Newtowncashel, one child quipped “yeah, we trashed ye” referring to football, of course.
The laughter rang out at St Bernard’s NS, where the beautifully constructed bright wooden playground - developed by Michael O’Sullivan with funding allocations provided for from Longford County Council – stood in all its glory. Frank Sheridan and Frank Horne, Longford County Council were also present to witness the historic occasion.
Talk then got round to the impeding Intermediate final clash between Abbeylara’s neighbours, Granard and Cllr Farrell’s home-side at the weekend, and the children of Abbeylara left the County Mayor under no illusions as to which side they were supporting in the clash [Granard, St Mary’s] - which eventually came Granard’s way after a nail biting finish at Pearse Park last Sunday. “Granard will definitely beat Newtowncashel,” another child insisted.
Principal, St Bernard’s NS, Mary Quinn then pointed to the importance of the facility for local children and the hours of enjoyment that they had already experienced at the playground. “It is an excellent facility,” she said, adding that it was open not just to the school children, but all the children of the parish were welcome to join in the fun there. “It has brought great enjoyment and fun to the children here.”
And as photographer, Willie Farrell swooped to grab the best snaps, Cllr Michael Carrigy, Cllr Frank Kilbride and Cllr PJ Reilly looked on in awe at the truly unique and magical facility for local children, nestled in the very heart of the picturesque village of Abbeylara. Fr Michael Campbell was also on hand, and it was he who blessed the facility and wished everyone well.
Then the sixth class children embarked from their seats and descended upon the playground’s monkey bars, climbing ropes, swings and slides, and before providing a superb demonstration of how all the equipment worked, each had a few words to say to all who helped and supported the venture.
“This is a wonderful playground and it has added a special touch to our school,” one pupil explained. Another child said, “the playground is entertainment for us; as you can see it is a children’s paradise and we love playing in it”. Another very enthusiastic pupil said that the playground provided all the children with an opportunity to avail of “plenty of exercise”. “On behalf of everyone in Abbeylara, we would like to thank Longford County Council, Cllr PJ Reilly and all those who helped us to get our playground,” another concluded. Then the fun began!