Thursday 18 July 2019

Huge insurance costs leads to Sonairte closure

Erieann, Brooke and Lisa Kearney at the closing of Sonairte.
Erieann, Brooke and Lisa Kearney at the closing of Sonairte.
David, Aoife, Odette, Spencer and Page Gaynor at the closing of Sonairte.

Fiona Magennis

The National Ecology Centre Sonairte at Ninch in Laytown closed it's doors to the public permanently last Friday.

The sudden closure has been met with disbelief and disappointment from its thousands of loyal customers.

The interactive visitor centre has been a fixture in East Meath for almost 30 years, promoting ecological awareness and sutainable living.

Situated on a 10 acre site, it was always a firm favourite with families in the area as the stunning gardens provided the perfect backdrop for children to explore with nature trails, walled gardens and an organic vegetable patch.

'For the avoidance of any doubt, Sonairte 'in it's entirety' will be closed to the Public from 5pm this Friday 25th August,' said a post on the Sonairte Facebook Page. 'This includes all Tenants, which includes The Sunflower Cafe, who after 5pm on Friday will no longer have access to the Centre. After this point, the Centre will be solely 'Private Property' and trespassers will be prosecuted. We appreciate the publics support at this difficult time. Thank you Sonairte'

It is understood that spiralling insurance costs have made the future of the centre untenable, with prices rising from under €10,000 to close to €30,000 this year.

Michael O'Dowd, who is a board member at Sonairte, said: ' This has been a difficult time but we have been overwhelmed by the show of support since the announcement.

'The Board will be meeting in the near future to review the situation and will be back in touch with those that have generously offered to help. Our ethos remains the same of promoting ecological awareness and sustainable living, it is just that at this juncture we need to push the pause button.'

Locals have expressed their sadness at the news with many asking if a fundraising campaign could be organised to raise the funds need to keep the centre open. Sonairte was established in 1988 by members of the local community and concerned environmentalists to provide education on all aspects of ecology.

Drogheda Independent