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Our Rural Future is bright; we are beyond delighted

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Spraoi agus Spórt Co-Founder & CEO Helen Nolan has welcomed a grant of €8.2m from the Rural Regeneration & Development Fund (RRDF) 2021 together with €1.3m in match funding from Donegal County Council for the Tús Nua regeneration project which will revitalise Carndonagh and act as catalyst for change both economically and socially following the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Tús Nua is a partnership between Donegal County Council and the multi-award-winning Carndonagh Social Enterprise Spraoi agus Spórt which aims to bring people of all generations back into the town centre for community services, education, recreation, housing, enterprise and jobs.

The project proposes the alteration of the former Leprechaun Bar in Carndonagh to create a new through access and public amenities including a Changing Places toilet facility together with the planned restoration of the former McDonagh Bros. Shop Building and site to provide for a new Digital Fabrication Laboratory, co-working space and office space.  A youth space for teenagers, community kitchen, shed and sensory garden will also be provided.

It is also proposed that a stone building previously a textile factory in the town will be rejuvenated to establish a Creative Makers Hub to allow lnishowen craft workers to carry out their trades. 

Co-Founder & CEO of Spraoi agus Spórt Helen Nolan said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have received this funding for the Tús Nua project which will help to revitalise Carndonagh and act as a key economic driver in the recovery of the town following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This really is a dream come true for the entire Spraoi agus Spórt team – board, staff, volunteers and service users! We have worked so hard over the last 10 years to play our part in the regeneration of our town, to enhance the level of services available locally for children, young people and the wider community and we look forward to having our vision realised.  These plans will be a real game-changer for the town centre and most importantly will create much-needed employment and inclusive opportunities for the future.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue TD, Joe McHugh TD, the Inishowen elected members, and Donegal County Council who have supported Spraoi agus Spórt not just throughout the Tús Nua process but in everything we do.

“We would also like to say a special ‘Thank You’ to Inishowen Development Partnership,  Carndonagh Traders Association, Foróige Carndonagh, and all of the community groups, businesses and individuals in the town who have supported our ambitious plans from the outset, it was this whole community collaboration that ensured this project got funded.”

Chairperson of Spraoi agus Spórt Patricia Lee added: “It is great news to have received this substantial funding for our exciting new project in partnership with Donegal County Council.  It will help to create so many opportunities for local people and we look forward to opening in the Autumn of 2023.

“Our new Digital & Creative Hub will not only provide a wonderful space for young people to learn the necessary 21st century skills needed in the future in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) but also help so many people of all ages and abilities to play, create and learn through innovation and invention!

“Our new hub will also provide a fantastic stimulus for local entrepreneurship as an accelerator for business start-ups, which will add to the wider regeneration and economic development of Carndonagh and the surrounding areas.”

“Our Rural Future is bright; we are beyond delighted” concluded Helen Nolan.

Valentine’s Draw

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Prize Details

1st – €500 Voucher for a Weekend Away

2nd – Marc Jacobs Snapshot Bag

3rd – L’Oreal Steam Pods.

Spraoi agus Spórt have continued to provide their much-needed services during this pandemic and will continue to do so.  Our charity shop Fadó has closed and we are now seeking your support with our Valentine’s Draw.

The services which we will continue to provide during this time include:
•    Alternative Respite for Children and Teenagers with a Disability and/or autism,
•    Counselling rooms for the provision of mental health supports for children and young people,
•    Inishowen Food Bank,
•   School-Aged childcare for essential and frontline workers.

Thank you for your support and best of luck in our draw.  Click here to buy a ticket


Carndonagh Town Centre Regeneration Project

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Public Consultation Event Thursday 10th September 2020

Donegal County Council in partnership with Spraoi agus Spórt is proposing a Town Centre Regeneration Project in Carndonagh, Inishowen, Co. Donegal. This exciting project will aim to address both physical and social regeneration targets in the town through repurposing vacant or derelict buildings to create a new central ‘hub’ facilitating a diverse range of youth, commercial, social, creative, recreational and tourism needs together with remote co-working opportunities. Public realm interventions are also proposed.

The Council is presently working on design proposals to bring the capital elements of the final project through Part VIII planning and this work is being led by the architectural and urban design resources of the Regeneration and Development Team. A public consultation event has been organised at which the proposed plans will be on display and staff from the Council and Spraoi agus Spórt will be available to provide further information. The event will be held at Unit 7, Spraoi agus Spórt on Thursday 10th September 2020 from 2pm to 8pm by prior appointment only.

To book your appointment please either call Spraoi agus Spórt on: 0749373303 or book online here.

The event will be managed to ensure compliance with the Covid-19 Regulations and public health guidelines and attendance must be pre-booked in advance. Regrettably, drop-in cannot be facilitated. A comments box will be provided at the event together with feedback forms. Please exercise patience and appropriate respiratory etiquette should you attend this event. It is a requirement that persons attending wear masks/face coverings.

For enquiries please contact the Donegal County Council Regeneration & Development Team at: or call Spraoi agus Spórt at: 0749373303.

Trinity MBA students make a huge ‘impact’ in run up to Spraoi agus Spórt’s 10th anniversary celebrations

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trinity college dublinSix MBA students from Trinity College Dublin who have named themselves ‘Team Tionchar’
(‘Team Impact’ in English) are working on an exciting new project with Carndonagh-based
Spraoi agus Spórt to help celebrate the multi-award winning social enterprise’s
achievements in the run up to their 10th anniversary later this year.
One of the members from ‘Team Tionchar’ is Edel McCabe who lives in Dublin but is
originally from Fahan – and is bringing her wealth of marketing and communications
experience to the project which includes creating an ‘infographic’ of Spraoi agus Spórt’s
contribution over 10 years and a ‘social impact measurement tool’to assist the organisation
with its future plans.

trinity college dublin
Spraoi agus Spórt opened its doors to the public in November 2010 as a parent and toddler
group – and has since grown into a vibrant family hub with workshops, events and afterschool
care which meet the needs of the local community. In December 2019 (for the second year
in a row) they won the highly coveted ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’ award at the Charity
Impact Awards and were also a finalist in the ‘Best Social Enterprise’ category at the
prestigious All Ireland Community & Council Awards in February 2020.
Edel Mc Cabe, MBA student at Trinity College Dublin, said: “I am delighted to be working with
such an innovative and inspiring social enterprise as Spraoi agus Spórt which is from my own
county (Donegal) and amazingly only 20km away from my home house in Fahan. Indeed, all
of the members of ‘Team Tionchar’ are excited to be working on this project with CEO Helen
Nolan and all the staff. We really hope we can add value to their fantastic work – and I would
also personally hope to become involved with Spraoi agus Spórt following the completion of
my MBA programme and into the future – helping where and when I can”.
Co-founder and CEO of Spraoi agus Spórt Helen Nolan said: “We are delighted to have Edel
and ‘Team Tionchar’ applying their focus and wide-ranging skills to this project which is
creating a bespoke business solution for Spraoi agus Spórt.
“We have been on an incredible journey for a decade now – and know that our collaboration
with Trinity Business School will help us celebrate our achievements and assist us in bringing
our future plans to fruition – including a state-of-the-art ‘Youth Space’ for teenagers,
developing our FabLab and rural co-working hub for entrepreneurs – as well as establishing
two new Spraoi agus Spórt centres in Moville and Buncrana.
“Indeed, when we initially started out in 2010 we only offered 3 activities per week and
catered for 15 families and 20 children. However, as of today (i.e. before the Covid-19
restrictions) we had a footfall of over 700 people attending more than 60 different weekly
classes and activities. We are also now working across five key areas – parenting, children,
young people, adult learning and enterprise.
“As a result of the lockdown we have had to stop delivering our services in the centre.
However, from the outset in 2010 our business model has always been about responding to
the needs of the local community or our users – and during the Covid-19 restrictions this has
remained the same.
“Indeed, in March we donated our sewing machines and materials to the ‘Inishowen Mask
Makers’ to make PPE and our FabLab has been creating visors for healthcare workers. Our
staff are also operating a helpline from 8am to 8pm Monday to Sunday where they organise
grocery / prescription orders and deliveries (our Project Cineál service), and we have also
helped to set up the Inishowen Food Bank initiative to ensure parcels are delivered to those
most in need.
“A big part of our work over the past 10 years has also included providing alternative respite
for families of children and teenagers with a disability and/or autism – and we are now in the
process of rolling out a programme where we provide this service remotely via fun and
creative online Zoom activities.
“It is therefore wonderful that Team Tionchar are working with us to produce an ‘infographic’
and report that captures and analyses the impact Spraoi agus Spórt has had on the local
community – including in relation to improving mental health, ensuring social inclusion and
contributing to rural regeneration. Indeed, the infographic will be used as part of our
celebratory booklet which we will be publishing later this year and includes 10 stories
illustrating our impact over 10 years.
“Team Tionchar are also developing a user-friendly ‘social impact measurement tool’ that we
can use going forward to continually measure our impact across our five key areas. Indeed, in
terms of continuing to address the social needs and challenges in Inishowen it is imperative
that we are able to measure our impact and the success of our social mission”.
Helen Nolan concluded: “It has been a real pleasure to take part in the ‘Zoom calls’ and work
alongside this highly-experienced group of MBA professionals. Indeed, I have no doubts that
Edel and Team Tionchar will make a huge impact in terms of providing us with insightful and
positive recommendations for change – ultimately delivering real value to our social
enterprise as we embark on the next stage of our development.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Professor in Social Entrepreneurship Sheila
Cannon and Teaching Fellow Chris Gordon from the Trinity Business School who have
overseen this strategically important project for Spraoi agus Spórt. Indeed, it has been hugely
beneficial and an immensely rewarding experience for not only myself but everyone involved
at our social enterprise.”
For further information on the Trinity MBA project please contact
Spraoi agus Spórt CEO Helen Nolan on 0876390500 or email

Spraoi agus Spórt appeals for donations to Inishowen Food Bank

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food-bank appeal

Spraoi agus Spórt Family Centre in Carndonagh has appealed to the public to donate to the
newly established Inishowen Food Bank – which provides a vital lifeline for vulnerable
individuals and families who are finding it difficult to make ends meet during the Covid-19
Spraoi agus Spórt are also encouraging people who are in need of other supports such as
grocery or prescription deliveries to avail of their ‘Project Cineál’ service (Irish for ‘kind’).
Supported by Inishowen Development Partnership (IDP), the Inishowen Food Bank was set
up in early April 2020. It has brought together a number of charities throughout the peninsula
(including The Exchange, Buncrana; Spraoi agus Spórt, Carndonagh; Trinity Court,
Newtowncunningham; Moville & District Family Resource Centre and Muff Red Cross) to
collect donations of food and toiletries to distribute to local people in need.

Co-founder and CEO of Spraoi agus Spórt Helen Nolan said: “I have been overwhelmed by the
amazing generosity and support from local businesses and individuals who – in the space of
only a few weeks – have donated huge amounts of food and toiletries to this project and have
volunteered their time to the operational running of the Inishowen Food Bank.
“More and more people throughout the peninsula are finding themselves struggling to put
food on the table, which is of particular concern for older and more vulnerable people and
for a significant number of families.
“As demand soars due to the ongoing lockdown and social distancing measures, this will
undoubtedly lead to depleted stock levels and our ability to provide much-needed parcels for
families containing nutritionally balanced supplies of non-perishable food as well as toiletries.
“I am therefore appealing to members of the public to continue to support our efforts by
donating food and toiletries at our drop off / collection points. In Carndonagh, these are
located at Supervalu, Simpsons and G&S / Costcutters supermarkets and at the porch of Unit
6 Spraoi agus Spórt.
“Suggested items that we are encouraging people to donate include:
• Jars – pasta sauce, jam, marmalade, baby food
• Tins – baked beans, chopped tomatoes, soup, tuna
• Store Cupboard – cooking oil, pasta, rice, tea bags, coffee, sugar, cereal
• Toiletries / Cleaning – soap, shampoo, toilet roll, washing up liquid, toothpaste, baby
wipes, nappies
“I would urge people who are now finding themselves in food crisis – possibly for the first
time as a result of the lockdown – to please get in touch with us as soon as possible.
“It is also important to stress that the Inishowen Food Bank is a strictly confidential service –
with no questions asked – and has been set up to support anyone in need during the Covid19 emergency.
“To avail of a free parcel from our Food Bank please call our helpline on 074 937 3303
(Monday-Sunday 8am-8pm), email or complete the order form
online using the link
“The online order form has also been created to help us identify individual / family dietary
requirements or needs – and our phone operators will be able to provide additional
“Following the lockdown measures introduced in March we also set up Project Cineál at
Spraoi agus Spórt to support vulnerable people in the community. This initiative offers a wide
range of supports such as dealing with grocery and prescription orders, arranging deliveries
from local supermarkets and businesses, providing arts & crafts and exercise ideas, printing
school resources, and generally just being available on the end of the phone for a chat.
“The Project Cineál service has had significant take-up, and is greatly appreciated by everyone
who has availed of it. Indeed, one example of someone who has benefitted from our service
is an elderly lady who lives alone in a remote area of Inishowen. She has an underlying health
condition and has not seen her children for 7 weeks due to ‘cocooning’. She therefore avails
of the Project Cineál service to get her prescriptions and shopping and has said: “I could not
ask anyone else to do this for me – and words cannot describe how grateful I am”.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to everyone who has
already donated to the Inishowen Food Bank and to our fantastic team of volunteers who
have given up so much of their time during this difficult time to support both the Food Bank
and Project Cineál.
“Importantly, it has become ever more apparent just how vital these community services are
for vulnerable people throughout Inishowen – especially during this challenging time. Indeed,
we anticipate the number of users availing of our services to continue to increase week-onweek whilst Covid-19 restrictions remain in place.
“I’d therefore once again reiterate my appeal to the public to please give generously to the
Inishowen Food Bank and urge anyone who might need the services provided by Project
Cineál to call our helpline on 074 937 3303 or email

Spraoi agus Spórt’s ‘visor army’ takes the fight to Covid-19

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visorsSpraoi agus Spórt are playing a key role in the fight against the deadly coronavirus pandemic
by manufacturing laser-cut face shields or ‘protective visors’ that can be worn by those
working on the frontline in community nursing homes, supermarkets, retail and
construction businesses across Inishowen and further afield.
Using state-of-the-art digital technology available in its ‘FabLab’ in Carndonagh they have
produced visors that are proving invaluable to frontline workers.
Spraoi agus Spórt plan to scale up the onsite production of their protective visors at its FabLab
to upwards of 500 per week – as government restrictions are eased for local businesses and
in the event of a potential second wave of Covid-19.
A FabLab – or Digital Fabrication Laboratory – is a facility where people can turn their ideas
into new products and prototypes, using digital design, 3D printers, laser-cutting and other
advanced digital manufacturing technology.
As Eamon Durey, Spraoi agus Spórt FabLab Project Manager explained: “FabLabs are
underpinned by two key concepts – access to technology that unlocks the ability to produce
prototypes and personal items, plus links to a global network of like-minded people. Within
hours of the realisation that there was a problem in accessing PPE, makers across Europe and
beyond were developing and sharing designs that could be fabricated quickly and cheaply in
local community-based FabLabs like ours in Carndonagh.
“Importantly, this response has highlighted the ability of agile, local ‘makerspaces’ to meet
the needs of their communities not only in times of crisis but also in terms of promoting selfreliance. Indeed, local needs can be best served by local solutions”.
Co-founder and CEO of Spraoi agus Spórt Helen Nolan added: “It is clear from the national
response to the lockdown that local manufacturing of PPE such as visors has played a critical
role in protecting frontline workers within local communities. It is also key that a community
like ours in Carndonagh, at the periphery in terms of national and regional infrastructure, has
the capacity to respond quickly and directly to local demand – rather than finding ourselves
at the end of a very long supply chain.
“Indeed, the capacity we currently have at our FabLab in Carndonagh has a clear practical
impact on the direct protection of our local frontline workers and in slowing or preventing
the spread of any potential infection. In addition, our ability to ramp up production of visors
if needed is important in terms of instilling confidence within the community – providing
people with the reassurance that we have a significant level of resilience and self-sufficiency
available to protect local people working on the frontline.
“An example of this is when we recently delivered a consignment of our protective visors to
Simpson’s Supermarket in Carndonagh which was warmly received by staff. Indeed, as staff
members Caoimhe and Niamh said: “These visors are exactly what we need – and we feel
much more protected when we are wearing them. They are also so comfortable to wear and
it’s great that they are being produced locally in Carndonagh. Thank you Spraoi agus Spórt!”
Scaling up
Helen Nolan also says that the FabLab in Carndonagh plans to produce and distribute more
visors to nursing homes, local businesses and frontline workers in the coming weeks.
“With the easing of restrictions there will be a much greater demand for PPE and protective
visors, for example from retail shops, opticians and hairdressers – as well as a continuing need
within our healthcare sector” she said.
“We are therefore working towards having a fully resourced FabLab in place that can produce
upwards of 500 visors per week. Indeed, through our operation we will be able to instantly
respond to the future social needs of our community – as evidenced by the capability of our
FabLab to produce high-quality visors within days of the coronavirus outbreak.
“It has also been inspiring to see our FabLab staff and volunteers respond so selflessly to the
needs of frontline workers with such inventiveness, creativity and community spirit during
this deadly pandemic. Indeed, they can be best described as our very own ‘visor army’ who
are taking the fight to Covid-19”.
Critical role for FabLabs
Helen Nolan concluded: “Our rapid response in terms of PPE production of protective visors
also underlines the critical role for FabLabs going forward. Social distancing is likely to be a
feature of life for us all in the medium term and in this context local and ‘hyperlocal’
production becomes ever more important as communities seek to maximise local
sustainability. Indeed, our FabLab production facility is also able to apply a wide range of
other uses – and communities that have invested in such facilities, and have developed the
local skills to exploit them such as ours, are at a significant advantage in terms of being able
to produce PPE and better protect their community during Covid-19.
“I also strongly believe that the production of PPE is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes
to the innovative things that FabLabs can produce in the future – not only during the
coronavirus crisis but in the post-Covid era.
“It is therefore critical that the EU, Irish government and public at large continue to support
manufacturing facilities like the FabLab in Carndonagh – which is not only helping to create
local jobs and add value to existing local businesses but is also ensuring the long-term
sustainability of our social enterprise.”
The introductory offer for the protective visors manufactured at Spraoi agus Spórt’s FabLab
is €5, which includes a visor and four refills suitable for use with the clip-style frame. Spraoi
agus Spórt will also donate one visor to a frontline healthcare worker for every visor
purchased by a local business.
If you are a local firm, nursing home or other facility who would like to find out more about
the face shields / visors or place an order please contact Spraoi agus Spórt on 074 937 3303
or email

AIB donation for Zoom activities help ‘brighten days’ for children with disabilities

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donationSpraoi agus Spórt, a multi-award winning social enterprise in Carndonagh, has welcomed a
€500 donation from AIB to help facilitate a unique series of fun online Zoom activities aimed
at supporting children and young people with disabilities during the Covid-19 restrictions.
Co-founder and CEO of Spraoi agus Spórt Helen Nolan said: “We are delighted to receive this
generous donation from AIB which is helping us to provide a wonderful new service that will
benefit approximately 50 families in Inishowen.
“Indeed, this donation is helping us to create a unique series of fun and creative online Zoom
activities for children and teenagers with a disability and/or autism which is brightening up
their days and is helping parents and carers to cope with the lockdown.
“Covid-19 has been an overwhelming challenge for families of children with disabilities – not
least because of the absence of a daily routine, missing friends and family members, or the
support that they would normally have access to from healthcare professionals.
“Indeed, the stresses of self-isolation is particularly acute and unsettling for children and
young people with disabilities.
“Our fantastic new Zoom activities are therefore not only aimed at educating and entertaining
children and teenagers in a creative way but are also helping parents in terms of respite or
their child’s mental health and wellbeing.
“Our many fun activities include how to make things at home, art demonstrations, online
music / singing and story time sessions.
“Indeed, since we first went ‘live’ with our Zoom meetings on 20 April, we’ve had a great
response and really positive feedback from parents – many sending us messages saying how
much they value the new resource.
“The new Zoom activities are therefore benefitting families who are feeling isolated and alone
due to the lockdown – and importantly their children are now making what can be best
described as ‘joyous reconnections’ with their friends from Spraoi.
“Some examples of messages sent to us by parents expressing their delight at the new service
includes a family who said: “We are feeling very blessed that Spraoi agus Spórt have begun
offering services to our family to support our child with autism to cope with the incredible
change in routine as a result of Covid-19. It allows us to add the designated times to his
schedule and bulks out his day. He enjoys following along with the art projects and
particularly likes seeing his friends on the group call. The group are putting lots of effort into
the support in the means of videos and links to arts. It is much appreciated and eases some
of the anxiety felt by our son”.

“Another example from a mother who is availing of the Zoom service said: “Our daughter has
a moderate general learning disability (GLD) and is very sociable. She has been missing school
and the social contact of her friends terribly and has been very difficult to manage in the home
(during the lockdown). When Spraoi suggested the Zoom meetings I wasn’t sure if she would
like them because she is non-verbal. But I couldn’t have been more wrong! The tutor talks to
each child by name and gives them a chance to respond in the group. She loves the art demos,
story time and music and above all, the familiar friendly faces that she knows from Spraoi.
She looks forward to each Zoom meeting and it has added purpose and fun to her day!”
Donations are ‘vital’
Spraoi agus Spórt CEO Helen Nolan has also said that donations like those from AIB are ‘vital’
for their organisation in terms of providing services like the Zoom meetings as their revenues
have been hit hard by Covid-19.
“I am acutely aware that all sectors of society and the economy are facing unprecedented
challenges at this very difficult time – and that the charity, community and voluntary sector
is no exception” she said.
“‘The Wheel’, which represents more than 1,850 organisations in our sector, has recently
undertaken a survey of members that shows between 70-90% are having to cancel
fundraising events and that this is having a serious impact on their ability to continue
delivering services.
“Indeed, in relation to our own organisation, up until the point of the lockdown measures in
March, we had a weekly footfall of 700 children and young people attending over 60 different
classes and activities. However, as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions we now have no traded
income from ‘paid for’ services nor any fundraised income. Indeed, we’ve had to close our
charity shop Fadó – the main driver of our fundraised income stream – and all of our
fundraising events, potentially for the remainder of the year, have had to been cancelled –
including a summer campaign to fund the development of a dedicated youth space for
teenagers, a coffee morning and our annual 5k walk/run.
“We are also unable to hire the services of many facilitators that we would normally use for
our classes and activities – many of which would have really made an amazing contribution
to our new Zoom meetings”.
Helen Nolan went on to say: “Importantly, I’d like to stress that we’ll be doing everything in
our power to continue to offer our vital services in order to meet the needs of our community.
However, I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome any donations – big or small –
from businesses and members of the public who might be able to support the provision of
our services during this difficult and uncertain time.
“Indeed, we are also hoping to widen access to our online Zoom meetings to other target
groups in the coming weeks and months which have proven to alleviate some of the stresses
of Covid-19 restrictions for families and have had such a positive impact on the mental health
and wellbeing of children and young people who avail of the service.
For further information on our Zoom activities or to donate to Spraoi agus Spórt please
contact our helpline on 074 937 3303 or email