“I am from the area and I work with over 60 young people from the area. These young people are crying out for a community centre.”
– Youth worker, Jonathan Collins

Jonathan Collins, who is now 30 years of age, featured in a 2010 video calling for a community centre in Garryowen. Limerick Youth Service supported the making of the video and today Jonathan is employed as a youth worker with the organisation.
If there was a community centre in Garryowen when Jonathan was growing up, he believes a lot of young people would have used the service.

“They would have gone there for advice, support, follow on educational programmes or simply just a hand around the shoulder to help with everyday struggles young people face these days,” he said.

• Growing up, Jonathan did not sense stigmatisation towards people from Garryowen:
“It was not rough, but not quiet. The only cause for stigmatisation I remember growing up was that there was a lot of stolen cars in the area at the time. Which there was. However, this is not the case nowadays,” he said.

• Would having a community centre save Garryowen?
“I do think that having a community centre in the area would go a long way in helping to once again have that sense of community in the area, along with guiding young people in the right direction.”

• How did you become a youth worker?
“I was in and out of trouble as a teenager and essentially came through the ranks in Limerick Youth Service as my key worker was an employee and helped guide me in the right direction through very helpful advice and support. Although there was no immediate impact (from that support) it was down the line, as I matured, that I could see myself reaping the rewards of the support I was given. I went back to college as a mature student and completed a four-year social care course, applied for my job and here I am today. I’ve come full circle”.”

• What motivates you in your work?
“I am strongly motivated by my own story to be honest. The work that was done with me had huge benefits down the line, and if I can duplicate that work with even one person from the area, then I know I have done my job.”
“I am from the area and I work with over 60 young people from the area. These young people are crying out for a community centre,” he said.
In the video from 2010, there were four other boys who featured.
“All the lads in the video went on to bigger and better things. We have two youth workers, a carpenter, a quantity surveyor and one in hospitality. However, one thing I will say about this particular group is that we had strong support systems at home and in the community.”

Limerick council recognises need for centre

Limerick City and County Council (LCCC) says it recognises the need for a community centre in Garryowen.

“The need for a community centre in Garryowen is indisputable and we would be very supportive of the idea, generally speaking,” said Seamus O’Connor, chief officer, Local Community Development Committee.

“We certainly see Garryowen as an area that needs investment. We see the value to be gained from it,” he said.

The council is presently finalising an audit of community facilities in Limerick city and county to identify key areas where there are needs. Garryowen is very likely to feature prominently and the Council will continue to work with the Garryowen Community Development Project on this issue.

• A mural of St. Mary’s Prize Band in Garryowen.

Social Inclusion Support

The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) has two goals – to support both communities and individuals.

In Limerick city, the PAUL Partnership implements SICAP in co-operation with community-based organisations such as Garryowen Community Development Project (CDP). For instance, SICAP supports the provision by community worker John Buttery of one-to-one advice and support to individuals and community groups. Last year, SICAP also supported summer and Easter camps locally.

“During the lockdown, our SICAP partners worked creatively to engage children and young people. A combination of open-access online content, online classes, tutorials and educational/art and crafts/fun packs were delivered to children by our SICAP partners,” said PAUL.

Limerick Youth Service is also involved in youth activities in the area in co-ordination with Garryowen CDP.

Why has Garryowen (pop. 4000) no community centre?

Local residents campaigning for over 50 years