Three of Cork’s entries to this year’s national Pride of Place awards have scooped well-deserved awards this weekend.
Blarney Village, SHEP Earth Aware and Elders for Earth, and the town of Skibbereen all won top prizes in their categories 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.
Blarney Village took top spot in the Urban Neighbourhoods with a Population under 3,000 category with judges praising them for developing a “a very caring community, with fantastic volunteers, where a very impressive list of activities was presented. Notwithstanding a celebrated and established tourist attraction the judges were in no doubt that this is a community with great heart and spirit.”
SHEP’s efforts to improve awareness on climate change were praised for telling “a persuasive story of climate chaos, climate justice, intergenerational justice and loss of bio-diversity thanks to the efforts of their volunteers”, taking the top spot in the Community Climate Action Initiative category.
Finally, Skibbereen took top spot in the Area With a Population between 2,000 and 5,000, with judges saying that it was “a progressive town, revitalised and reimagined, with great plans for the future, with the Chamber of Commerce to the fore in much of the progress that has taken place.
“Implementation of a flood relief scheme, completion of a purpose built art centre and the managing of the local tourist office convinced the judges of serious vision.”
Also pipped at the post were South Side Youth Forum who lost out to Lisburn’s Damask Community Outreach programme in the Community Youth Led Initiative category.
Also missing out this year were Ahiohill village and Dromahane village which were both nominated for awards.
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.”
Pride of Place founder and Chairman Tom Dowling said: “These 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.”
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: “We are 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.”