Castlecomer Discovery Park was a winner on Saturday
Castlecomer Discovery Park and Kilkenny County Council both scooped prizes at the all-Ireland Pride of Place community awards on Saturday evening.
The awards, hosted by Marty Morrissey, took place online due to the Covid pandemic with 6,000 people logging in from across Ireland to see community groups pick up gongs.
The Discovery Park took top spot in the community tourism category with judges praising them for delivering a 'tourism enterprise par excellence'. Castlecomer Discovery Park was set up to bring renewed economic activity to the town and create much needed jobs.
“This has been achieved conclusively and the enterprise has proven a major catalyst for other spin-off projects in the town. There are exciting developments planned for the future,” said judges.
Kilkenny County Council claimed the council community engagement award for their ongoing work.
“This council was a very successful host of these awards in recent years and continues to nominate year after year, fantastic, well presented and well prepared entrants to the competition,” said the judges.
“Through strong community engagement this council presents well prepared groups who in turn make a great impression on the judges with their positive partnership approach to working with the council.”
Another of other local groups were in the running. Just missing out this year was Callan Town Team, who came runners-up in the areas with a population between 2,000 and 5,000 category, and Clogh Community Council in the population between 300 and 1000 category. Ferrybank Allotment also received a nomination.
Sponsored by IPB Insurance, the Pride of Place competition was initiated 18 years ago though a Co-operation Ireland programme to acknowledge the invaluable work undertaken by volunteers and those involved in local community development. It has grown into the largest competition recognising community development achievements on the island of Ireland.
President Michael D Higgins, who is Joint Patron of Co-operation Ireland with Queen Elizabeth, said the awards played an important role.
“The Pride of Place awards are a most important initiative, reminding us that creating societies that are ethical and inclusive is a task for all of our citizens, of all ages and circumstances," he said.
Pride of Place founder and Chairman Tom Dowling said the awards continue to be as important as ever after all these years and the purpose of the awards has never changed.
"They are about recognising and celebrating the extraordinary, inspirational tireless work being done by communities all over the Island of Ireland as they strive to make their place a better place in which to live," he said.
Dr Christopher Moran, Chairman of Co-operation Ireland said: “Pride of Place deserves its position as one of the most prestigious community awards on the island of Ireland and Co-operation Ireland is delighted that it continues to go from strength to strength.”
George Jones Chairman, IPB Insurance said the company was proud to be title sponsors of the Pride of Place awards and continue to be amazed by the standard of submissions and their social impact on communities is a testament to an individual and collective vision for a better Ireland.
“This competition provides a fitting platform to recognise the vast strides communities across the island of Ireland are making. It is essential, now more than ever, that in these challenging times that we reflect and focus on the positives and take time to celebrate the excellent work accomplished around the island of Ireland," he said.