Rural education centre facing uncertain future


IT’S a story that’s sadly not unfamiliar around Fermanagh, one of a local community project that’s struggling to survive due to a lack of support from locals in its area.
Last week a meeting was held at the Dooneen Education Centre near Tempo, which provides a range of educational, social and recreational classes for the people of the surrounding area. Open ten years ago, the centre was once a hive of activity and while it still hosts a range of classes for people of all ages, it is now somewhat taken for granted in the local community.
The good news is that, following last week’s crunch meeting, the centre will not be closing — for now. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of a very small handful of people, such as secretary Marian Corry, the Dooneen Centre will remain open for the immediate future.
“We can’t get any new committee members, we can’t get any interest, so we’re trying to generate interest within the area,” said Ms Corry.
“We’re looking for funding, and we’re going to try to give it another year at least. It’s very, very difficult, though.”
Ms Corry said she believed young people today, and older people as well, were not getting involved as they had too many distractions, such as TV and computers.
“Years ago, when Dooneen opened, it was packed every night,” she said. “You try to generate interest by putting on new classes and so on, but you just can’t get the bums on the seat and that’s it.”
Currently the centre runs adult and children’s art classes, traditional set dancing classes, yoga, and Irish dance classes for children. Ms Corry said, in years gone by, it had a much more packed programme, offering even more such as computer classes and genealogy sessions. She urged the people of the local community to let her know what classes they would like to see at the centre, and could get in touch via their Facebook page.
“There’s no point in us providing the average class that every other centre has,” she said. “If I could get some sort of feedback from the community that they want a particular class, we can then go forward with that.”
Ms Corry concluded: “I know if we were to close the doors, people would be asking why couldn’t it be kept open, and would being saying it’s dreadful as it’d been there for a long time.”

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