The final pieces in the jigsaw of a dream first put forward almost 30 years ago have fallen into place this week.
The late Joe Britton from Donegal Town had the idea to develop a complex a bunglows and associated facilities for people with intellectual disabilities but many at the time thought it ‘pie in the sky’. That dream is now Ard Greinne and situated at Mullindrait, Stranorlar.
This seven bunglow complex and recreation centre, which was built by the Donegal Association of Parents and Friends of People with Intellectual Disability with funds from the Department of the Environment and dedicated to the late Mr Britton’s memory, is home to almost 40 residents who enjoy independent living in a quality and stimulating environment.
Last Monday the final extensions, a hydrotherapy pool, a snoozelum, an office and a new dining room were added to the recreation room thanks to an unusual, almost ironic, twist of fate.
It came about thanks to a donation from an orphan boy who grew up to become a successful business man. Not much is known about the life or times of the late Patrick McBride who was reputed to be from the Finn Valley area. Born and raised at the nearby St Joseph’s Hospital, he emigrated to England where he opened up a successful restaurant.
In his latter years he retired to Cyprus but passed away two years ago. In his will he asked his solicitor to donate a sum of money, approximately €130,000, to help people with mental disabilities. It is understood he was inspired to do this follow a visit he made to the Sean O’Hare Unit at St Joseph’s a number of years ago.
He was represented at last Monday’s opening by neighbour and friend in Cyprus, Stephen Carroll who is originally from Dublin.
Some of the cash also joined donations from the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and the Donegal Association of Parents and Friends to fund extensions to the living room, sitting room and dining room at Kileevin House, Killymard, Donegal Town, another facility for those with intellectual disabilities.
Association Chairman, Seamus Rodgers said the new facilities and indeed the Ard Greinne model itself was the key to the success of these services for the future.
According to a spokesperson for the Association, Sean O’Kane, the challenge was to take people with intellectual disabilities out of the “hospital ward settings” into as “near a natural home and normal home situation as we can give them.”
“The new facilities in both locations will be a fantastic addition to their quality of life. The hydrotherapy pool also incorporates a hoist that runs from the changing area, across the pool and over to the other side of the room to the toilet area. The pool’s wave creator works like a treadmill and enables users with arthritic and mobility issues to swim without moving too far. We believe this is the only one of its kind in the county. This was the grand finale to Joe Britton’s dream, we dedicated that to him.
The Stranorlar facility was blessed by local PP, Fr Kieran McAteer and Church of Ireland rector, Rev Tony Adamson. In Donegal Town Rev Adamson was joined by Killymard PP. Fr Francis McLoone.
The Association’s annual Church gate collection takes place this year on August 13 and as well as supporting its ongoing work throughout the county in places like Stranorlar, Carndonagh, Buncrana, Ballyshannon and Letterkenny, the funding will help to build two new houses in Dungloe and acquire a site in Gweedore