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Spraoi Gets €300k RTE Toy Show Appeal Grant

By News, Social EnterpriseNo Comments

Award-winning social enterprise, Spraoi agus Spórt, has secured €300,000 from the RTE Toy Show Appeal grants for 2022 by the Community Foundation for Ireland. Spraoi Co-Founder & Chief Executive, Helen Nolan, says the grant will fund a new purpose-built Child and Family Hub for Carndonagh.

 “We are thrilled to receive one of these Transformative Grants. We now have the opportunity to design a space specifically for the children and families of Inishowen.  It is very exciting to imagine what that might look like for Carndonagh.”

“We’ve grown so rapidly since we opened in 2010 – going from a small parent & toddlers’ group to now providing services for over 700 participants a week. To meet demand, we’ve ended up being spread across 8 different locations, which don’t always match our needs.”

“A dedicated hub will be “a game-changer for us and the families and children who use our services. We have developed and delivered creative activities for children for almost 12 years using rented accommodation, repurposed vacant buildings, and civic buildings. These spaces are not built for the services and projects we deliver, and this can restrict numbers and workshop time.”

How the RTE Toy Show Appeal Grant Will Help

“This funding will enable us to build a dedicated space on a town centre site, which can be customised for our needs. It will allow us to expand our inclusive creative and play services, in one central customised location. For the first time we’ll have an outdoor space, “co-designed” with the children, young people, and families we work with.  Outdoor play is so important for good mental and physical health and wellbeing.” 

“This funding also sends a very important message to our rural community that we deserve the best. So, we want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone at the RTE Toy Show Appeal, the Community Foundation for Ireland and all who have donated to the appeal. Your contributions will help to change the lives of children and families in Inishowen.”

Spraoi agus Spórt Chairperson, Patricia Lee, says the funding is more than a huge financial boost. “It is an affirmation of everything we are doing here at our social enterprise. We are very grateful that the RTE Toy Show Appeal and the Community Foundation have confidence in us to deliver for families and children in our area.”

“At Spraoi, we offer a huge range of social, recreational and educational activities for our community. We have a strong focus on family development, but also on contributing to economic and jobs growth. So, we work to create profits we can invest back into our business, community and local economy.”

Patricia says the grant is also a real boost to the hardworking staff, board, facilitators, and volunteers at Spraoi agus Spórt.

Last year, the Inishowen social enterprise secured funding of almost €10m for a regeneration project to revitalise Carndonagh, economically and socially. They received a grant of €8.2m from the Rural Regeneration & Development Fund – matched by €1.3m in funding from Donegal County Council. That project is due to begin this year, and will include a digital creative hub, new youth space for teenagers, co-working and office spaces, a community kitchen, and a sensory garden.

About RTE Toy Show Appeal

  • Inspired by children, the RTE Toy Show Appeal works to bring the magic of the Late Late Toy Show to every child in Ireland. By funding essential support, health, well-being, play and creativity we aim to change children’s lives for good.
  • The donations to the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal, are received and managed by registered charity, The Community Foundation for Ireland with whom we work in partnership.
  • For more information about The Community Foundation for Ireland, please see here: About Us | The Community Foundation
  • Given the level of public support for the Appeal, and with the ambition to help even more children, the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal will return for a third year and will be a part of the Late Late Toy Show on Friday 25th November 2022.

About Spraoi agus Spórt

Spraoi agus Spórt is an award-winning social enterprise based in Carndonagh, Inishowen, Co. Donegal and founded in 2010. They provide high quality inclusive social, recreational and educational activities for the community. Their focus in on family development and having a positive impact on the local community and economy. They have 15 volunteers and serve around 600 participants in their activities every week. Awards they have won include:

  • 2022 After School Club of the Year for Ireland at the international Prestige Awards
  • 2021 Gold Award for Best Disability Access & Inclusion Initiative at the All-Ireland Community & Council Awards
  • 2021 Silver Award for Best Community Based Initiative at the All-Ireland Community & Council Awards
  • 2020 Winner Pride of Place – Community Well-Being Initiative
  • 2019 & 2018 Winner Social Enterprise of the Year at the Charity Impact Awards
  • 2019 Social Enterprise Development Fund Awardee with Rethink Ireland

Media enquiries to: Trish Hegarty, Inis Communications.


Our Summer Festival Brochure is Out Now!

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Spraoi agus Spórt is delighted to announce the launch of our Summer Festival 2022 brochure. It’s packed with fun activities and courses for boys and girls of all ages, from toddlers to teens.

“Surf the waves, get creative with Donegal Tweed, make a film, be a You Tuber and much more,” says Spraoi chief executive, Helen Nolan. “Our summer festival offers lots of opportunities to get out and get active, and to bring your inner creativity to life.”

Most camps and courses run over July and August, although Surf Camp starts at the end of June and Parent and Toddler sessions run all summer. Helen warns, however, that “places are limited on all the camps and workshops. But you can book online here, through our Facebook page, or by texting 086 8420203.”

She adds that discounts on activities fees may be available through the National Childcare Scheme. “Contact us if you need information on this. Also, all our camps are accessible. Just let us know when you are booking if your child requires a special needs assistant for any camps.”

Helen says one of the biggest hits of their summer programme is the Multi Activity Camp, which starts on 4th July and finishes on 26th August. It runs from 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, and costs just €60 for the week or €15 per day.

“Each week is jam packed with outdoor games and activities, arts and crafts, technology, baking, dance, science, basketball, table tennis and much more. It’s suitable for ages 4 to 12 but children must have completed preschool and be starting primary school in September.

Another popular choice is the adrenaline packed Adventure Summer Camp in Culdaff, which runs twice over the holidays. The first week is from 18th to 22nd July and the second camp is from 22nd to 26th August. “Children can try kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, coast steering, bodyboarding, climbing, abseiling and much more. It’s from 9:30am to 3:30pm, costs €145 and is suitable for 7+ years.

 Other camps and courses cover everything from baking and crafts to Fab Lab, animation and creative writing and An Ghaeltacht. You can download the full brochure here.

Spraoi agus Spórt wants to say a special thanks to all those funders who have made it possible to run our Summer Festival 2022. They are:


Three Awards for Spraoi agus Spórt

By Social EnterpriseNo Comments

Inishowen social enterprise Spraoi agus Spórt are still celebrating, after winning no less than three national awards during the Easter break.

 “We are blown away,” says chief executive, Helen Nolan. “But it’s a huge boost to our team, volunteers, and funders, who all contribute to our success.”

All-Ireland Community & Council Awards for Spraoi

Spraoi secured a Gold Award for Best Disability Access & Inclusion Initiative at the recent All-Ireland Community & Council Awards. “This award was for our Alternative Respite Programme, which offers over 2,000 hours of alternative respite annually.”

“Living with a disability can be an isolating experience for people living in our communities,” says Helen. “We provide Special Needs Assistant support so children and teenagers with a disability and/or autism can join our activities. They get to choose the activities, which enables them to connect with their peers and feel part of our community.”

Spraoi agus Spórt also won a Silver Award for Best Community Based Initiative at the All-Ireland Community & Council Awards. “This was for Project Cineál, our response to Covid and the lockdown, which initially shut down our services. But we responded by developing online services, courses and classes, a helpline, foodbank, grocery, and pharmacy collection services.”

In addition to these two awards, Spraoi also scooped After School Club of the Year for Ireland at the international Prestige Awards. These awards celebrate the businesses and individuals that consistently offer excellent products and services in their country.

After Schools Club Secures Award

Spraoi agus Spórt chairperson, Patricia Lee, says after school activities include art, music, chess, digital technology, breakfast club, afterschool club, Maths and English tuition and Club Gaeilge. “What is significant for us about winning this award, is that it recognises excellence in the way we run our business.”

“Social enterprise is about contributing to social good, but you also need to run it effectively as a business. This allows you to continue to innovate, adapt and grow to meet the needs of the local community and economy.”

“At Spraoi, we offer a huge range of social, recreational and educational activities for our community. We have a strong focus on family development, but also on contributing to economic and jobs growth. So, we work to create profits we can invest back into our business, community and local economy. ”

Importance of Awards for Spraoi

Patricia says the awards are a real boost to the hardworking staff, board, facilitators, and volunteers at Spraoi agus Spórt. “Everyone gives their best, but we could not do this without the support of our funders and our community who support us with fundraising. These include public sector funders like Pobal, the HSE and the Department of Community and Rural Development.”

“But we also get great funding support from our local community. For example, The Square Bar, Clonmany raised €8,100 euro for us over Christmas. Tommy & Margaret Doherty recently donated €1,000 from donations they sought in lieu of presents for their 50th Wedding Anniversary.  So, we hope these awards show them all, once more, that their faith in us is fully justified!”

Find out more here about Spraoi agus Spórt, call them on +353 74 9373303 or email:


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Book Now for Spraoi Easter Camps & Courses

By Mums & Babies, News, Social EnterpriseNo Comments

Don’t worry about keeping the children occupied this Easter holidays, because Spraoi agus Spórt’s fun-filled Easter camps are open for bookings. The award-winning social enterprise in Carndonagh says their spring programme has something for everyone from toddlers to teens to parents.

Details of Spraoi Easter Camps

“We are so delighted to have our hugely popular Multi-Activity Camp back for the two weeks of the Easter holidays.  This camp runs for 4 days each week from 10am-3pm, with early drop off and late pick up available.  We also accept the National Childcare Scheme.”

Spraoi have just launched our April to June programme today and started out by focussing on the Easter Holiday camps and courses. Margaret Doherty, Administrator at Spraoi agus Spórt, says they’re excited to re-open their camps after missing two years due to Covid.

“All our camps are fully inclusive,” says Margaret. “We will provide a special needs assistant where required.   The camps are delivered by highly qualified personnel who promise to make them super fun.  Places are limited though, so it’s best to book early.”

“For the first week of the holidays, from 11th-14th April, there are a further three camps to choose from.”

“For ages 9 to 12, there’s our FabLab, where children can design and personalise items using digital fabrication technologies. The camp offers hands on, fun and engaging learning activities. So, children can enjoy themselves while building their STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) skills at the same time. It runs from 10am-12pm or 1pm-3pm”

“Or there’s Art Camp with ART FARM – a fun filled creative experience exploring all kinds of Arts & Crafts.” Margaret says this camp covers printmaking, abstract art, junk sculpture and clay modelling. “Each child will explore amazing new art skills with a masterpiece to take home each day.” Suitable for ages 8-12, it runs from 1pm-4pm.

Thirdly, there’s the Creative Sewing Camp, for learning a skill that will last a lifetime. Margaret says children can unleash their creativity while creating custom pieces, such as scrunchies and bags. “They learn hand sewing techniques  and how to use a sewing machine.”  This camp is suitable for ages 8-13 and runs from 10am-12.30pm.

Second Set of Easter Camps

“There are three more camps in the second week of the Easter holidays”, Margaret explains. Firstly, the FabLab runs a second camp, so you can choose which one suits you and your children best.”

“Or there’s also our exciting Stop Motion Animation Camp in Week 2 as well. Children learn how to create their own Stop Motion Animation stories using only an iPad, some props…. and their imagination. Suitable for ages 8-12, this camp runs from 1pm-3pm on 19th to 22nd April.”

Running over the same four days is the pottery camp with local potter Lorraine O’Carroll from Peninsula Pottery. Margaret says she takes you through different production and glazing techniques. “This is a great way to create personalised pieces that can be used time and time again”. The camp is suitable for ages 8-12 and runs from 10am-12:30pm.

Spraoi Spring Programme

Spraoi Chairperson Patricia Lee says the spring programme reflects everything that makes Spraoi a standout social enterprise.  “As a social enterprise we are governed by the community we serve. We are professionally run and we deliver on a range of social, environmental, and economic innovations to meet local needs.”

“By supporting Spraoi and using our social enterprise services, you ensure that we can maintain these services and sustain 19 jobs.  As a social enterprise we are also commit to re-investing any profits back into more services and resources for the community. In particular, we invest in supports for children and teenagers with a disability and/or autism.”

“Our Easter Camps will be lots of fun and come with lots of benefits including, teaching teamwork, resilience, building self-esteem and confidence, they will nurture friendship, keep children away from screens and promote independence.”

Patricia also outlined details of the rest of the Spraoi spring programme, which includes their hugely popular Couch to 5k programme, sea swimming, baby massage, parent & toddler, poetry, and boogie bugs. You can book online here, on Spraoi’s social media or call 086 8420203.

Media enquiries to: Trish Hegarty, Inis Communications.

Opportunity to work with Spraoi agus Spórt

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Spraoi agus Spórt have been awarded a grant to communicate their work under ARISE (Awareness Raising for Social Enterprises) funding as part of the Dormant Accounts Action Plan 2021.
The main tasks in the scope of work include website redesign and story gathering to deliver the message of the social impact of the work of Spraoi.

For the full Request for Quote document including scope of work, timeline, and budget, email


Social Enterprise Saves Local School Tours

By News, Social EnterpriseNo Comments

Carndonagh Social Enterprise, Spraoi agus Spórt, secured school tours for over 530 local children, after principals appealed for help. Under Covid restrictions, tours were only permitted if they stayed local, so schools wanted help to create exciting and engaging days out.

“Social enterprises are unique in their ability to respond quickly to local needs, and we are no exception”, says Spraoi agus Spórt Co-Founder & CEO, Helen Nolan. “Our staff got creative and put together five options for safer small groups, so classes could remain in their bubbles and each pupil would get more attention. We also wanted the local economy to benefit, so we engaged with local business and activity owners too.”

In the end, Spraoi agus Spórt created an exciting programme involving fun activities at their centre and other local venues. A total of 9 schools took part, and 538 local children got their big day out. “These children would have missed out on their school tour if we had not stepped in,” says Helen.

The tour options included Build a Teddy Bear, Design a T-Shirt, surfing and a visit to their Fab Lab. There was also an obstacle course and park games. Helen says they also worked with Inishowen Surf School to provide surfing lessons. “We gave everyone a personalised medal from our Digital Fabrication Laboratory as a keepsake of their tour.” 

“It’s important to highlight the fact that as a social enterprise, we believe in the importance of working with others in our community.  Doherty’s (Fintan’s) provided the ice-cream cones, and The Diamond Cafe provided the lunches.  We worked with Inishowen Surf School to provide the surfing lessons and BBQ and John Gibbons organised the park games and a treasure hunt.”

“Our school tours also catered particularly well for children with a disability,” says Helen.  Spraoi has extensive experience delivering disability services and has specialised resources such as a state-of-the-art sensory room.

The tours also provided children with a great taster session for what Spraoi offers during the holidays and after school throughout the year.

“This initiative is a real living example of how a community can be stronger together,” says Helen. “We saw local schools buying into the importance of supporting their local social enterprise. We saw Spraoi delivering a top-class service, supported by the other businesses in the town.”

The primary schools that took part were Glentogher National School, Scoil Cholmchille Glengad, Cloontagh National School, St. Brigid’s National School, Glenmakee, Scoil Phadraig Rashenny,

Scoil Treasa Naofa Malin, St Patricks’s Boys’ School, Carndonagh, Urblereagh National School and Scoil Naomh Treasa Tiernasligo.

Alex Bradley, a 3rd class pupil, summed it up like this…. “Mum we are going on our school tour to Spraoi.  Isn’t it so great that it’s local?” Children from Glentogher said they enjoyed the journey to the park and building their own bear.

Teachers were equally impressed. “We loved every part of the day. It was fun filled from start to finish,” says one teacher from Scoil Treasa Naofa Malin.  “This tour was excellent, one of the best we ever went on,” says a teacher from Scoil Cholmchille Glengad. The ‘Spraoi Staff” were fantastic, great with the children and so well organised. They followed all Covid guidelines perfectly! The children were so happy throughout. The medal, ice cream and food gave great value for money and was of a high standard.”

Spraoi chairperson, Patricia Lee, lays out some key facts behind the fun days out. “This year we ensured that the school tour income from 538 pupils stayed in our local economy. It is important to recognise the importance of schools and parents supporting this initiative, by using our services you are supporting 12 full and part time jobs. These jobs ensure that we can deliver essential local services such as disability services and gives us the ability to adapt and respond to situations such just like this.  Staying local ensured our schools reduced their carbon footprint too so it’s a win all round”.

Find out more about Spraoi agus Spórt and their services to the local community by emailing or call +353 86 8420203 or visit their website

Spraoi agus Spórt is an award-winning social enterprise based in Carndonagh, Inishowen, Co. Donegal and founded in 2010. They provide excellent social, recreational and educational activities for the community, focused on family development and bringing social, recreational and economic benefits to the area. They have 15 volunteers and serve around 600 participants in their activities every week. Awards they have won include:

  • 2020 Winner Pride of Place – Community Well-Being Initiative
  • 2019 & 2018 Winner Social Enterprise of the Year at the Charity Impact Awards
  • 2019 Social Enterprise Development Fund Awardee with Rethink Ireland

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.