The new Creeslough Community Links Hub was officially opened recently by Minister Joe O’Brien who said, “I have witnessed first-hand, the spirit, the resilience and the unity that exists in your community, I hope together you can rebuild a community that thrives on love, compassion and shared memories.”

A new community centre in Creeslough, Co. Donegal, was officially opened on January 12 by Minister of State for Community Development, Joe O’Brien. The Government had promised support to the devastated community after a suspected gas explosion on October 7, 2022, killed ten people and left eight in hospital.

A petrol station, shop and apartments above the shop were destroyed in the explosion and the site remains cordoned off to this day, with high fencing obscuring the view and flowers placed at a memorial by the roadside.

In January, the community came together to remember their neighbours who were victims of the tragedy and to look to the future with the opening of the new Creeslough Community Links Hub.

– The community of Creeslough, Co Donegal, came together on January 12 to officially open their new community hub. Photo: Creeslough Community Association Facebook

Speaking in Creeslough, Minister O’Brien said, “My focus is on strengthening community resilience and supporting the continued sense of unity that is evident here in this community. It is important that the community itself work together and decide on the way forward.

“You have transformed a derelict building into a place of shared aspirations and collective efforts. I have no doubt this community hub will continue to serve as a sanctuary for healing, a hub for support and a symbol of your collective strength for many years to come. I am confident that the community spirit here in Creeslough will allow you to continue your journey, all the time remembering those families that have lost ten precious loved ones and the injured, whose lives were altered forever.”

In a statement, Creeslough Community Association thanked all involved in the project and said: “In November of 2022, Minister O’Brien visited Creeslough, listened to our community and committed to help us rebuild. The Creeslough Community Links Hub is a result of that commitment, and we are forever grateful. The opening of this facility is another step on our journey of healing.

“This building has brought a positive vibe to the Main Street of Creeslough and our aim is to promote community engagement by providing a hub of information and support. To promote skills and development through programmes and workshops, to continue with small key community development, and to enhance the overall community wellbeing by addressing local needs.”

– Minister Joe O’Brien speaking at the official opening of the Creeslough Community Links Hub in Co Donegal. Photo: Creeslough Community Association Facebook

In March 2023, the Creeslough Together Initiative (CTI) was awarded almost €500,000 by the Department of Rural and Community Development. CTI now employs a number of key staff including a full time community links worker and a part-time administrator, and its work is rooted in the principles of both community development and trauma informed community work. This twin-track approach is designed to support the local community responses.