Youthreach Cork marks 30 years of success

Pictured at the Youthreach Cork 30th anniversary celebrations were Maeve O'Leary, Amanda Walsh, Laura Walsh and Mary Buckley, all with Jigsaw Cork Youth Mental Health Service. (Picture: Jim Coughlan)

A momentous milestone in Cork’s educational history was celebrated last Thursday as Youthreach – an initiative that provides young, early school leavers with an opportunity to return to education – celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Now operated under the patronage of the Cork Education and Training Board (CETB), Cork’s first Youthreach Centre opened its doors in April 1989 at Teach Barra on Dean Street, Cork where people gathered last week to recognise three decades of incredible work, dedication and achievement.

Locally, there are centres located at College Road, Fermoy and Ballyellis, Mallow.

The Youthreach programme was first launched in 1988 during a period of significant economic uncertainty in Ireland, in response to the needs of early school leavers at risk of long-term unemployment.

The core mission of the Youthreach provision has remained the same since; to prepare young people for the workplace.

Pictured planting a tree at the Youthreach Cork 30th anniversary celebrations were, Philip Frenan, Evelyn Byrne and Niall Brophy, all staff at Centre for Education Youthreach Dean Street, Cork. (Picture: Jim Coughlan)

Youthreach centres nationwide, numbering over 110, continue to open their doors to young, early school leavers aged between 16 and 20 years hoping to return to education, build their confidence and increase their opportunities in life.

While the programme encourages students to grow and improve their skillset, it also affords them the opportunity to gain a qualification in QQI Level 4 in General Learning, laying the foundations for a successful professional future.

Staff and students of the Cork city centre based Youthreach site were joined at the event on Thursday by Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Mick Finn, along with Andrew Brownlee, Executive Director of SOLAS and John Fitzgibbons, Acting Chief Executive of CETB.

Special guests, including founding members of staff and former coordinator Rory Sheehan, also planted a tree on the grounds, symbolising the past achievements of Cork’s Youthreach provision, while also representing the future.

For more information on Youthreach services, visit