IF THE stylishly appointed walls in The Georgian House in Limerick’s Pery Square could talk they’d have some tales to tell, but few so unique as when the ‘I Love Limerick’ team took over the building recently.
‘This is Limerick’ aimed to bring local groups to each other’s attention and celebrate ordinary people who do extraordinary things for their communities, Limerick and beyond.
An afternoon networking event brought many of Limerick’s charity and community organisations together for the first time. There were representatives from Special Olympics, the Cliona Ring Foundation, Friends of the Elderly, the Parkinson’s Association Mid-West, the MS Society, the Northside Learning Hub, Polish Youth, Doras Luimní, Pieta House Mid-West, Limerick Youth Service, Insight Magazine, Limerick Regeneration, St Munchin’s Area Centre, PAUL Partnership, Southill Area Centre, Limerick Communications Office, Red Ribbon Project and Creative Limerick among others. There were also dignitaries including Celia Holman Lee; Miss Limerick, Kellie McGrath; Limerick Rose, Orlaith Carroll, local councillors and TDs Willie O’Dea, Jan O’Sullivan and Kieran O’Donnell. Guest speakers included James Ring from Limerick Civic Trust; Mayor Maria Byrne and presidential candidate, Senator David Norris. There was also an energetic performance by dance group Flawless.
Linda Ledger of St Munchin’s Family Resource Centre said: “It’s great to bring all the communities together in a lovely place, under happy circumstances. I’m standing here with Trevor Bermingham, from Friends of the Elderly, discussing how we can continue to work together. In terms of funding, we love having the Government there but we strive not to be dependent on them. That’s why small social enterprises, for example, help us to become less of a drain on the Government.”
Eimear O’Connor, Southill Area Centre praised the idea and said that “resource-sharing is definitely what should come out of it. There should be more co-operation around the city because all our resources are stretched”.
Siobhán O’Connor, Campaigns and Advocacy with Doras Luimní, added that:“It’s a fantastic opportunity to explain to others the kind of work we do and also, for us to get to know other groups and possibly create opportunities for collaboration.”
Tom Tierney of the Cliona Ring Foundation, which supports families of children with serious illnesses with their non-medical expenses, spoke passionately about community action and how it can make a difference.
“The event is very positive. Part of the problem we see is there are things going on and everyone is doing their own thing. The key thing is about helping people and the one word I see cropping up is: inspiration and ordinary people doing things that inspire us and inspire hope.”
Mr Ring of Limerick Civic Trust explained that it was set up in the eighties by a group of Limerick citizens who were tired of seeing a negative image of the city.
“The core ethos still is where people just take it upon themselves to say ‘enough is enough’ and do their own bit to improve the city. That might be improving the built and natural heritage or looking after your community; it might be by looking after and learning from the elderly or by publicising the city in a positive light. No matter what you do; it all matters.”
Senator Norris was an immediate hit when he addressed the crowd as “distinguished lovers of Limerick!” He said the Georgian house as “magnificent” and “such a tribute to the Limerick Civic Trust and all the people who got involved. What a city you have now!”
“I visited the city recently and heard about the Regeneration programme. I visited various areas within the city and I saw kind of political, border disputes and territorial ideas. Please, please and I say it humbly as an outsider: try to put those divisions behind you. That it the only way that this wonderful city will be able to continue to develop at the pace that it richly deserves. If you come to a consensus, this can all be solved if you do one thing: If you put the interests of the people of Limerick before the interests of any party or any section. As far as I’m concerned the people come first.”
Organiser Richard Lynch, summed up the aim of the event. “Everybody in this room represents Limerick. If there was greater cohesiveness and all the groups were helping each other, there wouldn’t be a reliance on funding from existing Government sources. It’s not about fighting your own corner; it’s about each other. United we stand, divided we fall.”