Minister Frank Feighan TD, 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.”