The famous ‘Argony Pipe’ pub on the old Derry to Letterkenny Road is to be given a new lease of life from September as the only bi-lingual creche in the Killea, Newtown, St. Johnston triangle.
‘Teach Lisa,’ a new venture by local couple, Lisa and Óisin MacEó, reflects the growing demand for childcare and Irish language services, but also sadly, the decline of the rural pub in the North West.
It’s been several years , of course, since pints were last served up in the ‘Pipe,’ which has lain dormant since 2011, but the old roadhouse will soon be a hubbub of a different kind of activity in the weeks ahead, as Lisa explains.
“We plan to provide high quality affordable child care in this area for parents from Donegal and from Derry city, covering the Newton area, Carrigans, St. Johnston and Killea.
“It’s uniquely going to be a bi-lingual setting. As a mother of three boys who have all been raised bi-lingually, I’ve seen at first-hand the benefits of children growing up with the two languages.
“Our own children understand and can switch between, both languages [Irish and English] easily and we think that that will appeal to parents who want to send their children to Naíscoileanna or Gaelscoileanna whenever they get that bit older. There are no creches that I know of for children from six months upwards, which provide that in this area.
“Even the basic service we’re providing is not available in the local area. You’re talking about 19/20 kilometres away from this whole St. Johnston, Carrigans area here.”
While Lisa will be the main driving force behind the new service at the old country pub at Monglass, she’ll be supported full-time by husband Óisin, who in September will step down as the principal of Gaelscoil na Daróige in Ballymagroarty, after many years of service.
Lisa says Óisin’s previous experience as a long-standing principal of an Irish language school and nursery will be invaluable as the new facility takes on an enrolment of five children in September, with plans to expand to 12 from January 2018.
“A lot of the feedback we’ve got online is that this is what is needed in the local area. Initially, we’ll have capacity for five but we’re hoping to expand to 12 by January. There’s clearly a demand in the area and a lot of interest has been shown.”
The prospective ‘Bean an tí’ thanked the authorities at both Tusla and Donegal County Childcare for their guidance as the couple navigated their way through the necessary paper work.
“They’ve been very helpful to be honest,” said Lisa.
The old pub is currently being converted and will be practically unrecgonisable inside when the service launches in September, yet the ‘Pipe’s old light fittings and an old gas stove will be retained, to keep a bit of the heritage alive. The bar, after all, first opened in 1848 and served as a local watering hole for well over onehundred and fifty years.
‘Teach Lisa’ will be hosting an open day in mid-August. For those interested phone 0838707680/00447725907787 or visit Teach Lisa Facebook.