THREE Limerick communities are reflecting with deep satisfaction on their efforts over the past year having picked up three of the top prizes in the All-Island IPB Pride of Place competition.
Knockainey beat off stiff competition from all over the country to be crowned overall winners of population category 200-500 while Castleconnell claimed the second prize in population category 1,000 to 2,000.
Meanwhile, St Munchin’s Family Resource Centre in Limerick city picked up first prize in the active elderly in the community category, in the cities competition.
“It’s like winning an All-Ireland – well it is winning an All-Ireland,” said Debbie Carroll, PRO of Knockainey Community Council of their memorable win.
“We were just astounded. We heard Knockainey being called out and we just looked at each other. Some supporters had come in from Knockainey and we looked over at them with fists up to the sky – it was great to see their delight,” she added.
More than 400 representatives from practically every county in Ireland attended the gala event in Thomond Park.
The winners in each competition category received a monetary prize and an exclusive crystal decorative memento.
“We went to the primary school this morning, we are going to the pre-school next and then I have to take it to the choir tonight. It got an outing at Mass yesterday,” said Debbie of the trophy.
Knockainey Community Council was established in 2009 and the small village which has two churches, one school, one community centre, two pubs but no shop, boasts 32 clubs.
“For a small little rural parish, we are a mighty little place,” smiled Debbie. “There is tremendous community spirit here.”
To coincide with the visit of the judges on August 9, the village hosted a mini village fair featuring a range of activities. “First of all we were blessed with the weather,” said Debbie. “The turnout was inspiring. It must have been fantastic for the judges to come over that low road, turn left at the grotto and to look at that wonderful site of people sitting out.”
A presentation was given in the local community hall where there was a display from the 32 local clubs before the judges visited St Mary’s Church, St John’s Church, the wildlife field, the primary school, the sports field, the rugby field and finally the farm of John Macnamara – an award winning farmer.
Meanwhile, the achievement of Castleconnell in claiming the second prize in population category 1,000 to 2,000 was warmly welcomed at a Castleconnell local area meeting on Monday.
Cllr Mary Harty said all the councillors know the effort Castleconnell and Knockainey put in over the years.
She said as well as the visible improvements in their areas, it builds a “sense of community”.
This was echoed by councillors Eddie Wade, Noel Gleeson, Brigid Teefy, Mary Jackman, Michael Sheahan, and John Egan.
“Everyone worked together, it is a magnificent achievement,” said Cllr Teefy.
Director of service, Josephine Cotter-Coughlan said all the entries from Limerick were winners and paid tribute to the volunteers, staff in area offices and FAS workers.
St Munchin’s Family Resource Centre which scooped top prize in the category with the theme: Active Elderly in the Community was commended by the judging panel for providing “a truly comprehensive range of services” for older people.
“And most importantly the elderly were also actively involved in the planning and delivery of these services, which are considered in a strategic and co-ordinated way,” said the judges.
At the award ceremony, the winners were congratulated and presented with their award by Jan O’Sullivan, Labour TD and Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, Christopher Moran, chairman Co-operation Ireland, Tom Dowling, chairman of the Pride of Place committee and chief executive of the IPB Ronan Foley.
The winners were announced by Limerick man and 2FM presenter Will Leahy.
During the evening, the minister paid tribute to all the participating groups who work tirelessly to create and promote pride in their cities, towns and villages.