LOCAL children this week got a sneak preview of the new €180,000 playground at Cratloe Woods, which will soon open to the public.
Designed to blend in with the woodland environment, the children of the local St John’s NS have had a big input in how the new community playground has taken shape.
Pupils at St John’s are 300 in number but there are thought to be around 200 more young children living in the fast-growing community.
And Mary Foley, chairperson of the Cratloe Community Playground Committee, says there should be “plenty of room for children from all over the area to enjoy the playground” when brought by their parents to walk the woods.
Around €66,000 was allocated to the project by Clare County Council while the committee had also been able to draw down an additional €97,000 through the Leader programme.
The remainder of the capital costs, and the funding needed to maintain the facility into the future, will be raised locally and a co-operative has been established to run it in the coming years.
“What you have immediately to the left as you enter the woods is a big fort with a sand area for the smaller kids. Next you meet with swings and a hammock for older children and as you keep going the next play area is suited for older children,” Ms Foley explained
The timber installations and how they are laid out among the trees are designed to be in keeping with the natural surrounds.
“Lisa McKnight, our project designer, has put an awful lot of work in to keep as many trees as possible and it encourages the children to play with and in nature in all seasons,” Ms Foley said.
The designer had “outdone herself with the vision and imagination she has used in working with the children of the local national school”.
The fundraising campaign continues with a table quiz planned for Setrights on Saturday, November 19.
And the committee is also considering a sponsorship campaign where families and individuals would make a donation towards to upkeep of the facility and in return see their names inscribed at the playground.
Ms Foley said the committee was also hoping to run special family fun days at the playground which could include barbecues and pony rides.
“We have a few ideas and all the detail will have to be hammered out with Coillte,” she said.
The state forestry company had been “very supportive” of the community effort to provide a state-of-the-art play facility.