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29 Nov 2021

Kilkenny heritage project named as national finalist in the National Lottery Good Causes Awards

Kilkenny heritage project named as national finalist in the National Lottery Good Causes Awards

A Kilkenny heritage project who have brought the stories of local famine victims to life, has been named amongst the thirty-six community groups, sports clubs and organisations from all over Ireland who were today announced as finalists in the National Lottery Good Causes Awards.

The Kilkenny Famine Experience project will contest in the Heritage category in the Good Causes Awards final.

The awards honour the inspiring work and achievements of thousands of projects, clubs and individuals from all over Ireland who, with the help of National Lottery Good Causes funding, have had an extraordinary impact on their local communities. Nearly 30 cent in every €1 spent on National Lottery games goes back to Good Causes all over the country.

The Kilkenny Famine Experience project has three fundamental areas of focus. The first is a community reconnection project stemming from the discovery of 976 human famine victims found on site before redevelopment in 2005. The goal is to connect each of them to 976 living people from around the world who then leave their fingerprints etched in brass. The second is to recount the stories of what happened in the Kilkenny Famine Workhouse and offer an audio visual tour of the building, where the centre is also now located. The third is to honor the victims and survivors with a 12 foot bronze sculpture located at the site. National Lottery Good Causes funding assisted with the enhancement of the limestone burial crypt where the human remains were re-interred in 2010. The space has become a place for reconnection, reflection and remembrance having welcomed descendants from all over the world.

Manager of MacDonagh Junction, Marion Acreman said that the team are honoured and thrilled to make the national shortlist. "The Kilkenny Famine Experience stories have been such a meaningful part of our lives here for over a decade so this recognition really validates the significance of the ongoing work carried out to preserve the heritage on the site at MacDonagh Junction. We are really honoured and thrilled to have made this national shortlist in the heritage category and look forward to meeting the judges this week and share with them the Importance of this meaningful aspect of our shared history. We are continuing to hear from the descendants of our Workhouse survivors from across the globe so this is really well received on behalf of all who spent time here over the centuries both those who lost their lives and those who went on to build lives and families across the world especially those who have reconnected with Kilkenny as a result. This story has not  yet reached its full potential and our hope is that we will be given the opportunity to bring the story of the Kilkenny Workhouse to many more people in the coming years. Described as the most significant discovery relating to the Irish Famine, the interest in the osteoarchaeological research from the famine victims discovered onsite in 2005 is still strong amongst anthropologists globally and we continue to give seminars and receive academic research as a result of this," she said.

The 36 winning groups will now proceed to the grand final in six categories: Sport, Health & Wellbeing, Heritage, Arts & Culture, Community and Youth. A seventh category, Irish Language, will have a special award to be announced at the Awards final, in recognition of outstanding work done in the promotion of the Irish Language.

Speaking at the announcement, the CEO of the National Lottery, Andrew Algeo, congratulated the 36 finalists who have reached this final stage of the awards process.

He said: “The Good Causes Awards allow us to shine a light on the outstanding work being done in our communities by extraordinary groups. Our aim is to recognize the exceptional contributions of our finalists and show the people of Ireland exactly what their participation and support in the National Lottery is achieving within their communities. We are all aware of how difficult the past year has been and how important sports clubs, organisations and groups are to our wellbeing. This truly is our chance to show our appreciation for keeping our communities going during such uncertain times.”

The judging of the National Finals of the Good Causes Awards will take place virtually this year on Tuesday 16th & Wednesday 17th February. At this stage, representatives from each of the 36 finalist groups will be asked to do a short presentation remotely to the judging panel and respond to any questions that may arise. The judging panel will be chaired by Lotto presenter & weather presenter, Nuala Carey. Fergus Finlay, Columnist and Author, will join the panel as an independent judge at this stage.

Fergus Finlay spoke candidly about his involvement with the Good Causes Awards: “It is such an honour to be involved in the Good Causes Awards as the event really is a unique opportunity to highlight the array of remarkable groups and organisations doing great things in communities all over the country. I am looking forward to meeting the 36 finalists and hearing about the inspirational work that they have continued to do – even during Covid times. It feels even more heartening to be involved considering the difficulties that have been faced by so many during the past year.”

Each national category winner will receive €10,000 while the overall Good Cause of the Year will get an additional €25,000 on top of this. The winners will be announced on Saturday 29th May at the Mansion House in Dublin (subject to Public health measures in place at the time). The event will alternatively take place virtually depending on the guidelines in effect.

The 36 National Lottery Good Causes Awards finalists are below. More information on the finalists and the National Lottery Good Causes Awards can be found at www.lottery.ie/good-causes- awards/finalists

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