An Bord Pleanala has this week upheld the Planning permission granted by Kerry County Council earlier this year to allow the construction of “Liam’s Lodge” a new respite centre for children with complex needs, genetic, rare & life limiting disorders in Curragraigue, Blennerville, Co Kerry.

The respite centre will cost over €14m to build and fit out and will create an estimated 117 new jobs locally when it opens. It is anticipated that the facility will be up and running by 2021 and will cater for over 1,000 families a year. It will provide national respite, and palliative care supports for children primarily from the west coast and Munster areas.

The facility, the first of its kind in Ireland, which is being spearheaded by the Saoirse Foundation, will include eight three bed family residential lodges, fourteen two bed residential family lodges, a reception area, four therapy rooms, two sensory rooms, five physiotherapy suites, three offices with meeting rooms, a playroom, a cafeteria and staff facilities.

Speaking today Tony Heffernan the CEO of the Saoirse Foundation the charity behind the Liam’s Lodge initiative said; “We are thrilled that planning permission for Liam’s Lodge has finally been granted. We are really eager now to get this facility up and running as quickly as we can because we know just much a facility like this is needed. We aim to staff Liam’s lodge with loving care givers who will provide the best of care to our special guests allowing Mom and Dad and healthy siblings to take a break, relax and spend some quality time with their family in a quiet, nurturing environment. We have personal experience of the challenges that caring for a seriously ill child with complex needs can pose for the whole family and we know how much this kind of respite care is really needed.”

Also speaking today Mary Heffernan said; “In recent years Tony and I lost both our children Saoirse and Liam to Battens disease when they were just five years old. We understand only too well how families caring for seriously ill children could do with a place to go to recharge their batteries and allow their whole family time to relax and be looked after by people who understand their situation and needs. That’s what Liam’s Lodge will be. We’re now going to go full throttle at fundraising to get this facility up and running as quickly as we can.”

The good news of the An Bord Pleanala decision, is the perfect end to a great week for the Heffernan’s personally, who just a few days ago, renewed their wedding vows after 16 years of marriage. Speaking today Tony Heffernan said; “Three years ago our son Liam passed away on our 13th wedding anniversary and since then we’ve been hoping for a “happy” day to mark in the calendar. This news from An Bord Pleanala is the perfect news to cap off a brilliant week.”