During the early 2000s, Moyross became known nationally for extreme poverty and high crime rates. Some organisations sought to give residents a way out of that stereotype. One of them was the Moyross Youth Academy.

At the opening of the newly built Moyross Youth Academy (MYA) facilities over the summer, participants and former participants spoke about their experiences with the Academy and its programmes. Here are their stories, as they told them.

Eddie Carey, current participant

“I’ve been in Céim ar Chéim for the past two years. I got referred here through my probation officer.

“I had a lot of problems when I came here. I thought I’d only last a few weeks before I’d take another car and end up back in jail. But I knew this place was different, so I started opening up to the people here. They supported me through all my court cases. I couldn’t believe the effect this place had on me.

“I was so out of control, but the lads here showed there was more to life than taking cars. They helped me with a new start on a fresh path. I’ve done my leaving cert here, I got a licence through here and got a job through here. I completely turned my life around. And I became a father also.

“This programme is one of a kind and I wouldn’t be where I am today [without it], because I’d have killed myself, or killed someone in a car. It shows anything is possible.

“I hope to go to college in September. Before here, I wouldn’t even be thinking into the future.”

Darragh O’Keeffe, carpenter and participant

Darragh was first a participant with the project in 2012.

“After being here a while, they begin to challenge you – in a good way,” he said. Encouraged, he began working with horse trainer Jim Bolger two years ago.

“I was up at 6.30, working at 7.30 mucking out…It was hard. I always wanted to work with horses but, after a while, I wanted to be a carpenter.”

Through the MYA’s partnership with the Peter McVerry Trust, he is now two months into a six-month traineeship.

“I’m proud of our product,” he said. “I am one of a group of 13 young people on this programme with the [Education and Training Board]. It’s a great opportunity for people and something that needs to be supported. The payback is huge for us all.”

Lee Quinn, jockey academy graduate and former participant

Former participant Lee Quinn said there was a time when he “wasn’t great at getting up for school”.

Through the MYA, he got a trial with Ireland’s jockey training academy – the Racing Academy and Centre of Education (RACE) – in the Curragh, Co Kildare. He came close, but missed out.

“So I gave up the fags, trained hard [using MYA’s gym] and went for a second trial. All my hard work paid off. I topped the fitness class in RACE. I’ve now graduated from RACE.

“I’m proud,” he said.