Librarians Bernie Foran and Suzanne Carroll wanted their services to be easily available for everyone in their bustling, multi-cultural midlands town, Portlaoise.
So, working with communities from the local Direct Provision Centre, the resettled Syrian community.
The growing Lithuanian and Polish communities and many others, they went out of their way to create a space where people could feel at home, meet in a warm and non-judgemental atmosphere, study, find news and books in their own language, learn new skills, and meet new friends. Their achievements were celebrated as Places of Sanctuary Ireland awarded the library and the town with the accolade of being Ireland’s first Library of Sanctuary.
Rosey Kunene, now a community leader and Places of Sanctuary board member, was one of the people who benefitted – she spoke movingly of the relief of being able to simply find a corner to rest from the hassles and anxieties that years in the asylum system give. With visitors from many parts of Ireland, the achievement was celebrated in the warm contact-free way that have now become a life-style. Portlaoise Library, like all others, has its doors closed, but the warmth and welcome it represents will continue to keep people across the county hopeful udir these difficult times.