Healthy Ireland

Laois Local Community Development Committee (LCDC), understanding local needs and issues work to promote and improve the health and wellbeing of all people living in County Laois. Since 2017, Laois LCDC has successfully applied for and received grant funding through the Healthy Ireland Fund. The Healthy Ireland fund was created by the Department of Health to establish and support the implementation of Healthy Ireland programmes and projects which would improve the health and wellbeing of Ireland over the coming generation. Laois LCDC through a serious of partnerships and cross-sectoral cooperation administer programmes targeted at different groups throughout the county.

The emphasis on these programmes is the need to empower communities and people to look after their own health and wellbeing by improving health and promoting healthy lifestyles. Actions undertaken through Healthy Ireland are in line with the values of A Framework for Health and Well-being 2013-2025. Underpinning these values and ideas of improving health and wellbeing, is the Healthy-Laois-Plan-2018-2020.

Healthy Ireland has funded initiatives that have been far reaching and have left an impact on all those involved, whether participation involved training, learning, up-skilling or availability of equipment. Programmes have been designed to help address and respond to local community health and well-being needs throughout the county and are targeted at all age and socio economic groups. Laois County Council’s Community Section provides financial oversight and management in the delivery of the Healthy Ireland fund on behalf of Laois LCDC.

Make Way Day 2023

Thinking from a different perspective-Laois Make Way Day brings the disability and wider community together.

Laois Make Way Day saw forty participants led by Healthy Laois Co-Ordinator Emma O’Connor and a team from Laois County Council(LCC), travel to Portarlington, Portlaoise, Mountrath and Vicarstown by land look at accessibility for all on Friday 22nd September 2023.







An additional team of enthusiastic Transition Students from Mountmellick Community School accompanied by Councillor Paddy Bracken, put Mountmellick town to the test in borrowed wheelchairs, crutches and even brought along a baby buggy.






Healthy Laois and Healthy Offaly joined forces in Portarlington first thing on Friday morning to assess the town. Dermot Egan, Healthy Offaly Co-Ordinator said, “The aim of Make Way Day is to bring the disability and wider community together to consider the needs of people of all abilities and allow them to share the spaces we all take for granted.”

The team surveyed the Main Street area and noted the welcome improvements. Sean Quirke, Manager of Portarlington Leisure centre said “he looked forward to the completion of the Market Square works where accessibility will be improved further.”

Busy Portarlington businessman Alan Mitchell took time to stop and discuss the problems of cars parking on pavements in the area. “It’s about finding a solution” he said. Bollards stop cars coming through but then restrict access for pedestrians with buggies and with mobility aids”
Make Way Day is a time for us all to look closely at how the people of Laois move around their towns, said Emma OConnor and what blocks our way.

The 2016 Census recorded that one in seven people has a disability in Ireland and most people who have a disability, are not born with it, but acquire it later in life. Three out of every five people over sixty have at least one chronic condition.

At the start of each walk, Emma asked the participants to imagine what it would be like to move around the town if they had a vision impairment, a hearing loss, or mobility issues. Emma also asked participants to remember the hidden disabilities for example not being able to read and to look out for signage and images.

Six in ten people with physical disabilities said it affected their participation in leisure and activities and half said they had trouble even getting outside on their own.(CSO 2016).


The Make Way Day Team then moved to Portlaoise where Paul McLoughlin, Senior Executive Engineer in Laois County Council is proactively examining how we can all play a part in making Laois a safer and more accessible place to live in. “This is an important initiative” said Paul “and I look forward to working with the Disability Focus Group formed in Laois County Council following Make Way Day last year.”


Paul showed examples of the works undertaken by Laois County Council to the participants in Portlaoise and chatted about what worked well and what could be improved around Portlaoise. “We have made a start” Paul said at the end of the walk.

“Today is a fantastic opportunity to link in with the users of the infrastructure that we put in. We have identified issues that we can review but it is also heartening to hear so many positive comments as we moved around the town. The new and upgraded disabled parking bays are an example of progress made following consultation with users.


Treacy Percy is a busy mother with a sharp sense of humour who takes the challenges that life throws at her with a philosophical shrug. Treacy has a vision impairment and says that” Changing the small things, can make such a difference. Contrasting colours on signposts help people  with a visual impairment to see them” she says. The need for yellow sight lines on steps and street furniture was highlighted by Treacy,  and she demonstrated how essential these can be to a person with a visual impairment.


The NCBI provided Cllr Thomasina Connell with a special pair of glasses that reduced her vision.

“I found the experience of navigating my way through the” town incredibly stressful” said the Councillor and ‘You don’t realise how difficult it is for someone with a disability to make their way through our streets, when trying to overcome obstacles like uneven kerbs, bicycle racks and street posts ”. “ I was glad to have had the opportunity to experience what it is like for someone with a visual impairment and the challenges they face, and I intend to keep this to the top of the agenda in Laois County Council” she said.


Meanwhile Wes Wilkinson, Senior Executive Engineer, LCC had taken off with great enthusiasm in a wheelchair provided by the Irish Wheelchair Association(IWA). Joined by Pat Whelan from the Irish Wheelchair Association in Laois, Wes soon found that small inclines became hills and saw the numerous challenges faced by a wheelchair user.” It has given me food for thought” says the Senior Engineer. “Working directly with the IWA and other groups representing people of different abilities helps us gain valuable insights, which through our Disability Focus group in LCC, can be reviewed as part of the work schedule”.



Tom Curran, Age Friendly Laois Co-Ordinator, and Dan Bergin Laois PPN led the group who thoroughly examined the approach to Portlaoise Train Station. Tom held a series of meetings with Irish Rail and Age Friendly Ireland in recent months where they looked at accessibility to the three train stations in Laois (Portarlington, Portlaoise and Ballybrophy). Their findings on Make Way Day will add to this report.


Tommy White highlighted how a simple lip in the pavement can be an obstacle that could stop him.






Evan is a young person who negotiated his way through traffic and people with practiced skill.

“Make Way Day shows people what its like to get around the town” he says but I could not do it without this electric wheelchair. This gives me independence” he says and without it I cannot get out.” Fifty percent of people with physical disabilities in Ireland said they have trouble going out alone. For Evan, having ramps, lifts, good surfaces and safe spaces in the town are essential. Tommy and Evan said, “It’s great to be able to chat to Laois County Council staff and work together on days like this.”

The focus was on Mountrath in the afternoon and one of the stars of the day was Eve the Guide dog belonging to Sean Byrne. Sean explained how the new footpaths around the town have now made Mountrath accessible for him and Eve and allow him to move around and socialize. Mountrath is a town that has seen enormous progress made in the last few years and Sean said he makes good use of the new pedestrian crossings and pathways around the town.

Funding from The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme has resulted in a solid tarmac pathway along the banks of the Whitehorse River in Mountrath, which provide a scenic and safe path away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets. Will Danaher LCC, confirmed plans are afoot for further development of this area, including level access at the back of the Quaker Cemetery.p







Pictured are Annmarie Maher, Laois Co Co Paul Byrne Waterways Ireland, Cllr. Paschal McEvoy, Cathaoirleach Laois Co Co, Catriona Slattery, Laois Sports Partnership Photo Denis Byrne


Vicarstown also held an examination of their area where the need for a dedicated car park, close to the canal was highlighted, in addition to a need for more footpaths and safe crossing points.

Kathleen Sheridan is a volunteer with SVT who host a range of activities in the area and accompanied Ann Marie Maher, the Sports and Leisure Officer from Laois County Council on the Vicarstown walk. “We are hoping to work with Waterways Ireland and Laois County Council to scope the possibility of a new car park. There are no toilets or changing facilities close to the Blueway and a new car park might provide an ideal location for them” she said.



An Cathaoirleach Pascal McEvoy said, “this exercise has shown the need for us all to work together to improve accessibility in our communities.”

In 2022, a motor assisted bike, a tandem bike, and a tricycle. were purchased by Laois Sport Partnership and are frequently used along the Blueway in Vicarstown, allowing people of all abilities to go for a cycle.



Catriona Slattery with Katie Kelly taking notes on Friday Photo Denis Byrne

“This is a picturesque and peaceful spot which now joins to Athy on one side and Monasterevin on the other. It is important that this place is accessible to people of all abilities,” said Catriona Slattery, Sports Inclusion Disability Officer, Laois Sports Partnership CLG.








Mountmellick saw a large of group of students led by their teacher. “The students have been amazing” she said. “ They have been so enthusiastic and whilst they have had a lot of fun here today, they have gained insight and understanding of the problems faced daily by those with different abilities”

Laois Make Way Day has certainly brought the disability and wider community together and Laois County Council would like to thank the IWA and the NCBI for their participation and help in organizing the day. A special thanks also to all the participants and partner organisations.

Make Way Day has given us time to question and think about how we can make life easier for our friends and family as they age, as they acquire disabilities and for those born with differing abilities.


For more information on this initiative

Click here:

Contact our Community Department, Laois County Council, if you wish to find out more on this initiative- 057-8664060 and/or Emma O’Connor Healthy Laois Co-Ordinator at 086-0665215 or email #makewayday23 #Laoissportspartnership #HealthyIreland

LIVING WELL Expo Event, in Portlaoise College R32 N7 95 on the 13th of April 2023, from 4pm to 8pm.

This event, which is a joint health and wellbeing initiative, co-ordinated  by Healthy Laois  and Age Friendly Laois, will include talks, demonstrations and over sixty exhibitors, who will showcase the range of  supports and services available to people/communities of all ages in Laois, enabling them to Live Well.  Anna Mai is our Laois Age Friendly Ambassador  and will open the Living Well event in April.

This will be a fun event says Healthy Laois Co-ordinator Emma O’Connor, with cooking demonstrations, CPR, training, talks and exhibitions to help the people of Laois find the services and products they need in one space. We recognise the many factors that influence Health and so will have information on Grants, Energy Savings, Home Safety and Technology, in addition to a full range of Health Initiatives and information on Living well.

An action-packed FREE event is promised said Tom Curran, Age Friendly Laois programme Manager. Information will be available on a wide range of services available to help improve the Physical and Mental Health and Wellbeing of the people of Laois. Our Fun Live stage area will host live cooking shows, talks and demonstrations throughout the event and these will be of interest and benefit to both individuals and those involved with community groups and organisations.

Throughout the venue, there will there be music, singing and activities to keep everyone entertained and on their toes. Free Health Checks will also be available and complimentary tea and light refreshments can be enjoyed, while attending the event.

There are a small number of exhibition places remaining and for further information about exhibiting or attending, please contact:

Tom: 086 0363426 or

Emma: 086 0665215

Groups are encouraged to pre -register to ensure quick access for their members.
Everybody Welcome. Please feel free to drop in at any time.


Operation Transformation

The new series of Operation Transformation appeared on our TV screens on Wednesday 4th January 2023 following much behind the scenes engagement with SVT Activity and Wellness Hub, Healthy Laois and the Sports and Leisure Department in Laois County Council.

The Leaders including Andrea Daly from Portlaoise hosted the event over the course of eight weeks, in the Malt House in Stradbally.

Each week, Ad Break Challenges were filmed across the county in a different town each week. The first Ad Break challenge took place on the 29th December, in Stradbally Village, was led by Operation Transformation expert, Karl Henry  and featured Stradbally native, Ann Simpson. Since then enormous crowds have joined in the activities at Vicarstown, Portlaoise, Kilcavan Ratheniska Portarlington with the final session held in Timahoe.

Laois County Council’s Healthy Laois Co-ordinator Emma O’Connor said: “Having the show broadcast from Laois has played a significant role in helping us deliver our goal of promoting a society where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health, and where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society. We are delighted to see the people of Laois embracing this Programme and hope everyone has enjoyed sharing  the participants in their journey to enjoying greater physical and mental wellbeing.”












To learn about walks to support Operation Transformation Please Press Here- Supporting Walks

Pictured at Court Square , Stradbally for the Operation Transformation Ad Break Challenge, were: Karl Henry ( O.T. Fitness expert ) with Laois Co. Council officials – Tom Curran, Anne Marie Kirrane, Ann Marie Delaney and Emma O’Connor and Kathleen Sheridan ( SVT ). Photo: Michael Scully

Pictured at Court Square , Stradbally for the Operation Transformation Ad Break Challenge, were: Marie Nestor with Harry and Ellan Brady. Photo: Michael Scully

Pictured at Court Square , Stradbally for the Operation Transformation Ad Break Challenge, were: Ella O’Riordan, Sarah, Emer and Edel Ramsbottom and Darragh O’Riordan. Photo: Michael Scully

Pictured at Court Square , Stradbally for the Operation Transformation Ad Break Challenge, were: Marie Kinsella, Jill Sheehan, Katie Mc Grath, Sarah and Valerie Sheehan, Eddie Kitchin Carol Sheehan. Photo: Michael Scully

Pictured at Court Square , Stradbally for the Operation Transformation Ad Break Challenge, were: Karl Henry ( O.T. Fitness expert ) with young participants. Photo: Michael Scully –

Pictured at Court Square , Stradbally for the Operation Transformation Ad Break Challenge, were: Karl Henry ( O.T. Fitness expert ) leading the exercises. Photo: Michael Scully

Pictured at Court Square , Stradbally for the Operation Transformation Ad Break Challenge, were: Ann Simpson ( Ad Break Hero ) and Karl Henry ( O.T. Fitness expert ) leading the exercises. Photo: Michael Scully –

Pictured at Court Square , Stradbally for the Operation Transformation Ad Break Challenge, were: Karl Henry ( O.T. Fitness expert), Ann Simpson ( Ad Break Hero ) and Kathleen Sheridan ( SVT ) , Laois Co. Council Officials and local participants. Photo: Michael Scully

Pictured at Court Square , Stradbally for the Operation Transformation Ad Break Challenge, were: Heidi, Brooke, Ben , Martina and Cody Lynch and Pamela O’Shea. Photo: Michael Scully .



































This week, on Friday 13th January at 7.00pm, participants will be welcomed to the the PLAZA Portlaoise for the next Ad Break Challenge. Operation Transformation will air every Wednesday from January 4th for eight weeks at 21:35 on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player.







Healthy Laois Workshop -24th November 2022






On Thursday, the 24th November, the Healthy Laois Unit of Laois County Council, led by Ms Emma O’Connor, Healthy Laois County Co-ordinator, held a Consultation Workshop in the LOETB Centre of Excellence, O’Moore Park, Portlaoise. The workshop brought together a broad cross section of Laois Community Groups and agencies, in addition to Service Users, to help inform the new Healthy Laois 2023- 2025 Strategy.


The Healthy Ireland Programme is based on the premise, that health and wellbeing is affected by all aspects of a person’s life, including education, socio-economic status and physical environment. Healthy Laois  is working to ensure an increase in  the proportion of people who are healthy at all stages of life, to reduce health inequalities and to create an environment, where every individual and sector of society, can play their part in achieving a healthier  Laois for its citizens.


Speaking at the event, An Cathaoirleach Thomasina Connell, outlined how recent health studies have shown the need for preventative action to begin now, if we are to meaningfully address areas of concern such as physical activity, mental health, healthy activity, sexual health and substance abuse.

Healthy Ireland Laois embraces and recognises national policies and plans, and recognises the need to integrate and to implement them, at local level, and they are embedded into the county’s Local Economic and Community Plan (LECP), which is now also currently under review.

Siobhan Hourigan, Health Promotion Officer for the HSE, spoke about  how existing Healthy Laois Programmes, such as the “We’re Breastfeeding Friendly Campaign” and the “Not Around Us”, Tobacco Free Campaign, demonstrated the value of interagency collaboration in creating meaningful initiatives, that can be actioned and serve to inform the new  Healthy Laois Strategy for  2023-2025.

A series of round table consultations and feedback sessions ensued which were facilitated by Storm Powell and Jim O’Brien. These produced very good information and provided insight into the issues affecting the citizens of county Laois, with key actions and outcomes identified.

The workshop offered an opportunity for meaningful collaboration with groups and organisations and will ensure the Healthy Laois Plan can achieve the greatest impact possible on the health and wellbeing of all in Laois into the future.


New Gambling Counselling & Support Service at Portlaoise Family Resource Centre

A new support service to assist people dealing with harmful gambling is now available at The Portlaoise Family Resource Centre.

The ‘National Problem Gambling Support Service’ was officially launched by the Gambling Awareness Trust in collaboration between Gambling Awareness Trust and the Family Resource Centre National Forum (FRCNF), which will see 20 Family Resource Centres (FRCs) across the country, including Portlaoise, provide professional and confidential counselling and support services to those experiencing harmful gambling and their families.

 Ireland has recently been ranked 4th in the EU for the prevalence of problem gambling with an estimated 55,000 problem gamblers and an astonishing €1.4 billion lost through betting and online gambling last year. It is estimated that for every problem gambler, there are 6 to 10 others impacted by their behaviour.

Those struggling with problem gambling are at an increased risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, as well as accumulating overwhelming debt. The ease of access to gambling through online sites and apps, combined with the recent stress of the covid-19 lockdowns have made support services such as this, an absolute necessity to families and individuals affected by problem gambling.

The Portlaoise Family Resource Centre, offer 1 to 1 and group support to those affected by Problem Gambling, as well as their family members and loved ones.

From mid- September The Portlaoise Family Resource Centre will be offering a new online support and initial contact point forum for Laois people who are experiencing problem gambling. In addition, The Portlaoise Family Resource Centre will also host an online information session for families and loved ones of people experiencing problem gambling. Those interested will be able to register in advance.

If you or someone you know are experiencing issues related to Problem Gambling, we urge you to reach out for more information.

For confidential and non-judgemental support, please reach out to The Portlaoise Family Resource Centre on

Landline: 057 8686 151

Mobile: 0873488062







Make Way Day 2022 is back – Friday, 30th September, 2022

Make way on our streets
for people with disabilities.

Laois prepares for the annual one day-access blitz which is #MakeWayDay22.

Every corner of Ireland will be put to the test for basic access issues on Friday, September 30th, when the Make Way Day campaign returns.

Laois County Council will be supporting  #makewayday22 on Friday 30th September by creating awareness, around the access issues faced by the people of Laois, as they go about their daily business.

“Make Way Day” is a campaign that brings the disability and wider community together,  to consider the needs of people with disabilities in the public spaces we all share.

for more information on this initiative

Click here:

It is led nationally by the Disability Federation of Ireland and is a unique collaboration across Ireland and the voluntary and local government sectors. But most of all it’s about people with disabilities.

                “Hey, this blocks my way!” is our message.

It’s too easy for us to label these issues as not my problem. You may be right in thinking that the car indiscriminately parked on the footpath is not an inconvenience to you but some day it might.  Not everyone was born with their disability.  All of us are getting older and maybe less mobile as time goes by and navigating through cars parked on a footpath can be challenging.  Some of our citizens that may be visually impaired may experience difficulty, encountering an advertising board outside your business.  We all have a role to play in making our streets easier to navigate.

As part of MakeWay Day 2022, Healthy Laois and Laois County Council in collaboration with IWA, NCBI, NLN & Rehabcare Portlaoise, Laois Sports Partnership &  Laois PPN and supported by Volunteer Laois will be conducting a number of Walkability Audits on Friday morning, 30th September in the following locations:

  • Portlaoise (departing the Parish Centre at 10.30am);
  • Stradbally (departing Arthouse at 11.30am) and
  • Rathdowney ( departing Cuan Bhride at 11.30am)

The objective of these audits is to identify what we can do to make our streets more accessible.

Remember everyone can get involved #MakeWayDay22.

Contact our Community Department, Laois County Council, if you wish to find out more on this initiative- 057-8664060 and/or 086-0653313 or email




World Suicide Prevention Day – Saturday 10th September  

The theme for World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September 2022 is ‘Creating Hope Through Action’. 

It is a time when we can spread the message and demonstrate to those in our lives and communities, that there is hope.   Even though suicide is a very complex issue, we should always signal to people who are vulnerable or experiencing suicidal thoughts, that we care and want to support them.  This helps to create a more compassionate society where those who need to, feel more comfortable in coming forward to seek help.

We can all contribute and play our part in creating hope in our society by engaging in the following actions:

  • Increasing our awareness
  • Reaching in to offer support
  • Reaching out to seek support
  • Being the light for others and your community
  • Knowing where to turn for support and services

For further information please see

Various events will be held throughout the coming weeks in remembrance of those who have lost their lives to suicide and to give and show support for their loves ones and others who have been affected by their death.

Friday 9th September:                    Remembrance Mass: 10am – Laois Traveller Action Group, Bridge Street, Portlaoise.

Friday 9th September:                    Remembrance Mass: 6pm – Offaly Traveller Movement, Hazel Hub, Tullamore.

Midland Living Links who provide a supportive listening service to those who have been bereaved through suicide have organised the following services and invite all members of the public to join them:   (Co-ordinator Mobile: 086 1600 641)

Saturday 17th September:            Remembrance Mass and Tree of Hope Ceremony in the Tranquillity Garden:

11am – St. Brendan’s Catholic Church, Birr.

Sunday 25th September:               Tree of Hope Ceremony: 2pm – Memorial Garden, 6 Ridge Road, Portlaoise.

Sunday 25th September:               Tree of Hope Ceremony: 6.30pm – Brosna Park Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath.

Sunday 2nd October:                      Remembrance Mass and Tree of Hope Ceremony:  12noon – St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Portarlington.

Pieta House provide a bereavement liaison service for those who have lost a family member or a friend or colleague to suicide and may like to avail of support with their grief.    Bernie Carroll is the Suicide Bereavement Liaison Officer for the Midlands and she can be contacted on 086 418 0088 or email:

The following supports and services are available for all who may need to avail of them:

Local GPs and MiDoc Out of Hours Services: Midlands 1850 302 702; North East: 1850 777 911.

The Emergency Services 999/112 and Hospital Emergency Departments

Pieta House 24/7 Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247; Text HELP to 51444, Therapy Services Team: 0818 111 126.

The Samaritans 116 123; email

24/7 Free Text Support Service:  Text HELLO to 50808 /

Information on mental health for yourself and others and details of supports and services: /  1800 111 888

Online counselling supports: / for information on local supports and services, and info leaflets on self-harm, suicide and bereavement support.  Also details on all training programmes available, dates and registration process – see below also.  provides details of ‘Taking Control with Stress Control’ online programmes running throughout September.


HSE Suicide Prevention and Training

Free awareness and skills training are available from the HSE to help prepare you to be in a position to recognise when someone may be at risk of suicide and give you the confidence, language and skills to be able to assist and connect them with helpful supports and services.

Information regarding the LivingWorks Start self-directed online programme and face to face safeTALK (suicide alertness skills training) is outlined below and on the booking website:

 LivingWorks Start (self-directed online programme) is for those who want to help prevent suicide and develop the skills to assist someone who may be at risk of suicide.  It can be completed in 1½ hours and includes a four-step model and impactful videos and simulations.

safeTALK is a 3hr ‘suicide alertness’ programme that prepares participants to identify and engage with persons who may be having thoughts of suicide by using the steps of TALK (Tell, Ask, Listen and Keepsafe). Individual safeTALK Workshops can be delivered upon request to groups with a min of 12 participants by contacting your local Resource Officer (contact below).

Upcoming workshops – Booking via:

Introduction to Self-harm (2 hour online facilitated programme                      13th November: 5-7pm

5th February:    5-7pm

Understanding Self Harm (1 day prog).                                                                  7th  December – Athlone

22nd February – Tullamore

safeTALK (suicide alertness programme)                                                               6th December: 6.00pm-9.00pm – Laois Education Centre

safeTALK (suicide alertness programme)                                                            12th December: 9.30am- 1.00pm – Tullamore

ASSIST Workshops                                                                                     22nd and 23rd  January, 9.00 am-5.00 pm, Tullamore

7th and 8th February   9.00 am-5.00pm, Athlone

Workshop for those supporting people bereaved through suicide:        

                                                                       30th November – Longford (9am – 4.30pm)

                                                                 14th March – Tullamore (9am – 4.30pm).

The prevention of loss of life through suicide requires the efforts of many – each and everyone of us, healthcare professionals, educators, community members and political officials and governments and the positive effects of all this collaborative, co-ordinated and integrated work can be sustainable and have a massive impact.  On September 10th join with many others across the world who are playing their part in the prevention of suicide –     In all our own and unique ways, we can make a difference!

Irish Mens Shed launch new Walkshop Programme
As part of celebrating Mens Health Week, the Irish Mens Shed’s Association today launched a new Walkshop resource for its members across Ireland. The resource will be posted out to over 450 Mens Shed’s in Ireland and will be available online.
Led by Laois Sports Partnership, who provided the keen Shedders with Fitsticks in conjunction with Healthy Laois, Laois Men’s Shed welcomed Navan, Slane and Waterford Shedders on a 5k walk around Abbeyleix Bog.
The new resource was created in partnership with Mens Sheds, Mental Health Ireland and Get Walking Ireland. It aims to encourage Men to make the first steps back toward Shed’s after a difficult two years of Lockdowns, disruption and isolation. Many Shed’s are offering to do Walk Swap’s to host other visiting Shed’s to their local area to share their local knowledge and experience. Walkshop’ Resource –



The Minister was introduced to the Regional Director of Youth Work Ireland, Laois, Mr Clive Davis and was taken on a tour of its headquarters in Portlaoise. The Minister was briefed by Mr Davis on the work being carried out in the community.

“Youth Work Ireland Laois are delighted to be in the position to deliver the Positive Laois programme in Laois. The project objectives came from interactions and listening to issues directly facing young people. As the only Laois based Youth Organisation in the county, we are so proud to be able to share our amazing space with as many young people as possible. We continue to use Youth Work to facilitate change to support the development of our Young People throughout the County”

“The Art Therapist Programme was also a key initiative delivered by Youth Work Ireland Laois” continued Mr Davis. He outlined that “young people who present with emotional intolerance/stress often have not developed the verbal skills required to express this distress, and Art therapy provides the model for non-verbal communication and expression in a safe and therapeutic environment. Art Therapy uses creative and adaptive skills in providing varying treatment intervention modalities to address these varied presentations in a client friendly and responsive manner”.








Minister Frank Feighan TD, Minister of State for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy was welcomed by the Healthy Ireland Action Partner – Laois Partnership where he had an opportunity to meet with the staff of Laois Partnership, who are an Action Partner collaborating with Healthy Laois . Liam Ramsbottom, SICAP Team Leader, Mary Keane Community Development Worker and Karen Bambrick, Youth & Community Worker, Laois Partnership displayed some Support packs that were provided to children and families during the Pandemic. She said “While meeting people on their doorsteps when delivering food support packs, concerns were heard about the cost of returning to school”.  Liam Ramsbottom said that the collaborations between Agencies was instrumental in the success of our work on the ground.

“Healthy Ireland funding  provided up to 543 school packs to children across Laois (359 primary & 184 secondary), and fresh food support packs to 60 families all which  alleviated the pressure for parents and allowing these children to return to school with confidence”.

Minister Frank Feighan said “I am so impressed with the breadth of work, that is being undertaken in Laois for the Health and Wellbeing of the various communities.  Over the last number of years, Healthy Ireland has invested in several initiatives,  in partnership with the Local Community Development Committee and the Children and Young Persons Services Committee.  I can see today the benefit of ensuring that these structures are empowered to design and deliver actions locally, that support people in Laois to live healthy lives.”

Men’s Shed Ukelele session enjoyed by Minister Feighan.

Minister Frank Feighan, Minister of State for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy was welcomed to Laois Music Centre, Portlaoise, where he was welcomed by Mr Joe Cunningham, Chief Executive of Laois Offaly Education and Training Board and Ms Nuala kelly, Resource Worker, Music Generation Laois.

Music Generation Laois (MGL) is an inclusive and accessible music programme, part of Laois Offaly Education and Training Board and supported by Laois County Council. Nuala Kelly, Lead Musician of the Healthy Laois funded initiative “Musical Memories

Laois” introduced the Minister to the Members of Mountmellick & Portlaoise Men’s Shed. She advised that the programme “ began as an inter-generational song-singing project with children from Paddock NS – a participating MGL school – singing on-line for residents of Abbeyleix and Mountmellick CNUs and  highlighted the important role that the  Musical Memories initiative had,  in  addressing the social isolation felt by those in long-term care units from the beginning of the pandemic.  ‘Musical Memories with Music Generation Laois began in response to the effects of social isolation experienced by older people in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020.

Originating in care home settings across Laois, the programme has since expanded to Primary Schools and Men’s Sheds. In-person outdoor sessions took place in Shaen and Mountmellick CNU last Summer.

There was also an opportunity for  Grandparents to participate via Zoom and we had grandparents joining in from Cork, Kildare, Waterford, Kilkenny and we are hoping to re-introduce grandparents in person before the end of the school year in 2022.  .

The highlight of Musical Memories in 2021 was the visit of Singer-Songwriter John Spillane to both schools and both Men’s Sheds just before Christmas 2021.

The current phase, funded by Healthy Ireland, saw the introduction of weekly Ukulele sessions to Portlaoise and Mountmellick Men’s Sheds, and has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for the participants.  Zoom sessions continue in Mountmellick CN Unit and in-person visits to Shaen Hospital will re-commence in the Summer. The project adapts as necessary to a blended delivery of on-line and in-person sessions.

Ray Harte- Director of Irish Mens Shed Association  said “We are delighted with the help and support we have received from Healthy Ireland Laois in delivering a host of new exercise and wellbeing programmes to our members”

Minister Frank Feighan said “I am so impressed with the breadth of work, that is being undertaken in Laois for the Health and Wellbeing of the various communities.  Over the last number of years, Healthy Ireland has invested in several initiatives,  in partnership with the Local Community Development Committee and the Children and Young Persons Services Committee.  I can see today the benefit of ensuring that these structures are empowered to design and deliver actions locally, that support people in Laois to live healthy lives.”



Ireland’s 1st Fit Sticks Trail comes to Laois

The Derryounce Fit Sticks Trail funded by Healthy Ireland Laois and co-ordinated by Laois Sports Partnership has now opened and is the first of its kind in Ireland.

Fit Stick Trails are designed to include a solid flat surface with a low incline making it very appropriate for those with poor balance. Along this particular trail, there are various signposts with exercises for participants to execute including a warmup station at the beginning of the trail.

This trail will be a fabulous addition to the county of Laois. Participants included Men’s Shed, Parkinson’s Group, Woodlands for Health Mental Health Group, Older Adult Groups, Care centres for people with disabilities with intellectual & physical disabilities. They have found the use of the poles/ fit sticks very helpful with posture, gait and mobility & strength.

Laois Sports Partnership funded by Healthy Ireland Laois purchased activator poles from Fit Walk Ireland and delivered programmes throughout Laois. The social aspect of the classes is as important as the exercise. These are all done at one’s own pace, always light-hearted and ending with a sing song. Since 2020,16 programmes have been delivered throughout Laois and tutors have been trained to deliver these programmes.

For more information on these programmes, contact Eimear or Catriona.

Eimear-    Email:       Phone: 086 0111722

Catriona- Email:   Phone:086 7935234


HSE Suicide Prevention Training Schedule: July – October 2022

Following the Covid-19 restrictions of the past two years, the HSE are now commencing to resume delivery of face to face programmes on a gradual basis.   See attached an outline of the training schedule for the next few months which is also outlined on their booking website (see below)  – as additional programmes are scheduled they will be added there.

Click Here – Booking Link

Click Here – HSE Training July – October 2022 Schedule

Click – Info re Suicide Prevention Training Programmes Info re HSE Suicide Prevention Training Programmes July 2022

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