A young Irish Wheelchair Association member, who sadly passed away two years ago at the age of 21, has been remembered in a very special way by staff and friends at Dundalk IWA

Friday saw the unveiling of a brand-new sensory room in the IWA premises at the Longwalk and it’s aptly named Seomra Eibhlin in dedication to Eibhlin Doherty who was a much-loved member.

At an open day attended by members, their families, staff and invited guests, Eibhlin’s mam Brenda did the honours of cutting the ribbon to officially declare the room opened.

She said: “I was just thrilled when I was told that the room was to be named after Eibhlin.  It makes her memory live on.

“She loved coming here.  She was a very decisive person and if she didn’t want to do something she would let you know.  It brought her a lot of joy. The room is a wonderful addition to the centre, Eibhlin would have loved it.”

Brenda Doherty officially opens Seomra Eibhlin, the new sensory room in Dundalk which is named after her late daughter

Filled with colour, music and beanbags the sensory room is the perfect setting for those who use IWA’s service to chill out and regulate their emotions.

It provides members with individualised input that they may need to self-regulate, explained Services Support Officer Katie Byrne.  It also features artificial grass and already members have engaged in yoga, she said.

The open day was an opportunity for members to showcase their amazing centre and for guests to see what the School Leavers/LifeSkills service is all about, and the warm friendly atmosphere ensured that everyone felt at home and welcomed.

Those present also got to view the new upstairs premises, now part of the centre, which is called An Ardan and is a marvellous addition, providing additional space and opportunities.

“An Ardan translates as The Platform”, explained Katie.

“We named it that as the premises gives our service users the platform to learn, develop new skills, create friendships, and gain independence.”

Katie took the opportunity to thank the wonderful staff in Dundalk for everything they do within the service, for their input, ideas and support.  The work they do never goes unrecognised, she said, and they deserve so much praise for the high level of care and support they provide.

Services Manager Sara McKeown added: “The two buildings have made a massive difference to the services and we want to thank everybody who made it happen.”

There was a special shout out to Precision Cables who raised €7,000 towards the project which helped to get it over the line.  Former IWA member, the late Gerard Malone, who worked for Precision Cables, and took part in many activities and services in IWA, came up with the idea of fundraising for the service and without his input the sensory room wouldn’t be as amazing as it is today.

Area Manager Declan Hamilton said: “When IWA first came here it was a shell of a building.  Together we have turned a vacant building into a community.”

Member Aaron Casey is thrilled with the new look centre.  “I think it’s fabulous, and it is great to see everyone here,” he said.

His mum Rose added: “It’s just beautiful and I am very pleased for Aaron and all the members that they have this great facility to come to.  He loves being here, it’s a joy to him.”

Mary Murphy was there as a guest of the Caseys, and she too was hugely impressed with both the new Sensory Room and An Ardan.  IWA is an organisation very close to Mary’s heart as fifty years ago she began volunteering with the association and hopes to be back at it again in the ver near future

Annmarie Duffner, whose son Fionn uses Dundalk IWA services, was also enjoying the open day. 

She said: “Our children are dependent on care and it’s a wonderful service to have in Dundalk.”