The empty hydrotherapy pool at Cavan’s Enable Ireland centre.

€400,000 pool lies empty

A treatment pool, partly funded through local donations, is lying empty as there isn’t enough money to keep it running.

The hydrotherapy pool is located at the Enable Ireland centre in Rathcorrick outside Cavan Town.

Costing in the region of €440,000 to build, it was only used for six months since it opened four years ago.

Clippings from past issues of The Anglo-Celt showing various fundraising activities for the pool and centre.

Issues with funding came to light during a visit by Disabilities Minister Anne Rabbitte to the centre earlier this month. The Minister was greeted by the sight of peeling paint and the pool lying empty.

The Hillside Centre on the Crosskeys road was officially opened in 2011 and houses the Children’s Disability Network Teams run by Enable Ireland and the HSE.

At the time of its construction, the foundations for the building to house the hydrotherapy pool were laid, with a view to completing it when funding came available.

Thousands of euro was raised by local communities and groups to continue construction. It was finally completed in late 2018.

In a statement, Enable Ireland said a part-time lifeguard was hired but they left their role six months later:

“The pool was commissioned in 2018. From pay savings, and with approval from HSE, we recruited a part-time lifeguard in late 2018 and the pool was operational for a six-month period. The post holder left the position in early 2019. The pool remained closed through 2019 owing to insufficient funding for a replacement post.”

The impact of the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic saw all of Enable Ireland’s hydrotherapy pools closed in 2020 and 2021.

Anne Rabbitte, Minister of State with responsibility for disabilities, said she was shocked at the situation when she visited the centre. She questioned the level of staffing required, as well as the funding that would have to be found to reopen it.

Speaking to staff at the centre, she asked what level of funding would be required to bring the facility back into use, particularly given it was built less than a decade ago. Following a query from The Anglo-Celt, Enable Ireland said it had projected an annual cost of €56,585 for the pool. This includes pay costs for a full-time lifeguard and other running costs associated with the pool.

At least one lifeguard would be needed to ensure the safety of those in the pool, despite each user being accompanied by their physiotherapist.

Minister Rabbitte said she would open a dialogue on funding streams but said there was potential for the pool to be opened to outside groups for a fee.

“I see the revenue potential of the pool. Fix the pool with the 10 grand, put in the person and I think it’ll pay for itself. “I would like to pilot it for two years but I think it would be a money-making machine.”

Enable Ireland says it has submitted a business case to the Department of Health and is hopeful of getting the pool reopened in the coming months.

“Pending remedial works currently underway, we hope to re-open the pool later in the year. A business case to fund a full-time lifeguard for the pool was invited by Minister Anne Rabbitte during her visit to the centre.” Hydrotherapy pools are used as part of rehabilitation programmes, with the temperature, movement of water and currents controlled to aid in the physiotherapy of the user. The pool in Cavan is believed to be the only such facility for use by health services across the Community Healthcare Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo area.

The facility includes the pool area itself, along with dedicated changing rooms and toilets.

Charity events were held across Cavan to raise money for the pool as part of a major fundraising drive almost a decade ago.

Among them, local band The Strypes donated all proceeds from one of their concerts in late 2013, while almost €5,000 was raised in 2012 by the Bruce Ramble walk.