A TASTY breakfast in Knockainey, a boxing demonstration in Kilmallock and a history lesson on the ancient site of Lough Gur were all on the menu for Pride of Place judges during their visit to County Limerick.
“Getting people out at 9.30 on a Thursday morning is no mean feat in itself – but we had hundreds of people for our community breakfast party,” explained Mary O’Grady, chairperson of Knockainey Community Council.
To coincide with the visit of the judges, the village - which has been entered in Category 3 (Population 500 to 1000) of the Pride of Place competition - hosted a mini village fair featuring a bouncy castle and face painting for children.
There are 32 active clubs in Knockainey – and each had their own display within the community centre on the day.
“We were delighted particularly with the response from the community,” Ms O’Grady continued.
“We had a huge number of people – all our clubs had lovely displays. We had people sitting around playing guitars at the community centre. It was all about demonstrating community spirit. We certainly put our best foot forward,” she added.
To give the judges an insight into village life in Knockainey, locals also prepared a 30-minute presentation.
In nearby Lough Gur, (which is entered in the Single Issue - Cultural Tourism category) the judges took a trip back in time – their visit began with a guided walking tour which was led by local historian Michael Quinlan beginning at Grange Stone Circle.
At the lake-side, Annie Casey gave a dramatisation of Countess Eleanor and the connection with Lough Gur.
From there the judges made their way to the heritage centre where they were greeted by Aine Humphreys playing the harp. Inside in the heritage centre the judges were treated to a presentation by Aine Barry, Tom Tierney and Tom Flynn which focused on the history of Lough Gur and the future plans for the centre. “It was a real community event,” said Ms Barry of Lough Gur Development Committee.
“Everybody pulled together in terms of preparing the area including people around Holycross who are involved in a Tidy Towns initiative. And in Lough Gur, Derval Kenny and Bill Harris did a load of work in terms of planting, litter picks and all that kind of stuff.”
Back at the lake-side and the judges has plenty to take in - members of Kilfinane Outdoor Education Centre were kayaking on the lake at the time while local women supplied a selection of home baking nearby.
The lake-side music meanwhile, came courtesy of Caoimhe and Aisling O’Brien and Caoimhe Lynch and Joanne Hayes.
In Kilmallock meanwhile, the action centred on Riverview Estate which is competing in the Housing Estates category.
Limerick County Council supplied the paint for the estate which enabled residents to paint houses in the newer part of the estate.
The fire brigade undertook a demonstration on how they would cut a person out of a car as well as doing various demonstrations in relation to fire safety for children. There was also a boxing demonstration, a barbecue and bouncy castles, and DJ Mossy volunteered a couple of hours of his time to play music. “We had done a mural on one of the walls – all the children in the estate put their hand-prints on it and the judges were really impressed with that,” said Trish Murphy, secretary of the Riverview Estate Residents’ Association.
“The flags of all the nationalities of everyone living in the estate were flying. Most of the residents came out and helped with the painting – it brought all the community together,” she added.
Limerick County Council has been confirmed as the host authority for this year’s awards event, which will be held at Thomond Park on November 3.
The Limerick communities will be hoping to emulate the success of recent years, including 2011, which saw Cappamore Housing Estates Committee as the overall winner of the Housing Estates Category, and Adare as runners up in Category 3, catering for population centres of 500-1000 residents. Each area was nominated by Limerick County Council and will be up against other communities of similar size, or of similar projects, from other counties around the country.