The Benwiskin Centre enhances the local environment while providing for the community. Self-accommodation, social gatherings, and more at the Benwiskin Centre
Since 2000, the Benwiskin Centre has operated as a self-catering accommodation and community centre. Its beautifully scenic location in north Sligo, less than ten kilometres from the seaside village of Mullaghmore, makes it a wonderful location for students and tour groups.
The area itself is steeped in rich history, with Neolithic cairns and ringforts nearby, as well as Diarmuid and Grainne’s cave, the highest cave in Ireland. The stunning Gleniff Horseshoe drive is just ten minutes from the Centre, making it an ideal launching point for exploring the beauty of the Dartry mountains and surrounding area.
On top of its self-catering accommodation, the Benwiskin Centre also operates as an eco-friendly community centre, with a wide range of classes, social activities, Internet and office services, and more offered throughout the year.
In 2019, with the support of public funding, the Benwiskin Centre was renovated and extended to accommodate up to 35 guests, with a dedicated community hall with space for classes and social activities.
“Our goal at the Benwiskin Centre is to preserve and enhance the local environment, to promote economic development in the area, and to provide social amenities and activities,” says Jackie Warnock, Manager of the Benwiskin Centre.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Benwiskin Centre had a full timetable of activities – and now, with in-person events back on, they’re finding their feet again.
“We’ve seen a drop in our community services and what we’ve been able to offer – and now that the Centre is open again, we’re welcoming the community back inside.” Jackie says.
“Our focus now is to develop that social calendar again and to get a bit of input from the local people on what they want. We try to work with that and accommodate them.”
In the past, the Benwiskin Centre hosted a wide range of activities and classes, including yoga, tai chi, pilates and step aerobics, and exercise for seniors like chair yoga. They’ve also offered art classes, basket-making courses, gardening, flora and fauna informational talks, and computer classes. Social gatherings like bingo, card games and recreational dance classes were also popular and will be making a welcome return to the Centre within a few months.
Since they reopened to community activities in the spring, parent and toddler classes have been a great success.
“We saw new parents coming in that had never used the centre before – and they’ve made friendships there now, too, which is nice,” Jackie tells us.
As people gain more confidence in going out and becoming active in their community again, the Benwiskin Centre plans to keep up with the demand and be in tune with what the community wants.
On the other side of the business, their self-catering accommodation has been going very well since being remodelled in 2019. Before the renovations, there were five four-bedrooms and one eight-bedroom – but there was no double- or single-occupancy room for school leaders, although school tours made up many of their bookings. During the renovations, they added a double room and changed one of the existing bedrooms into a lounge area for guests, freeing up their hall for social gatherings. They also renovated an existing storage room into a staff area and meeting room. The Benwiskin Centre now has eight bedrooms and sleeps up to 35 at maximum capacity.
The kitchen and dining room were also renovated and are now bright and roomy, perfect for both guests and for catering classes and activities.
Looking toward the future, Jackie is excited to fill up Benwiskin Centre’s calendar of classes and social activities. The staff there have been working hard to keep the Centre running smoothly throughout two uncertain years and are looking forward to returning to a sense of normalcy with their new and improved facilities.
“We’ve a great team of staff here, and they all work for what we’re trying to achieve. Not one person could do it on their own,” Jackie said, praising her coworkers. “They are dedicated, and we all adapt to meet the Centre’s needs.”
Things are looking good for the Benwiskin Centre, and Jackie wants to give thanks to the people who the Centre relies on. “ All of our funding comes from the Department of Rural and Community Development, under their community services programme. Without their support, we wouldn’t have the staff we have in place. We got great support from them through Covid and other agencies throughout the years, which makes it possible for us to stay open all year round.”
Find out more at www.benwiskincentre.com