Birr picks up special award at Pride of Place ceremony

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Birr was honoured with a special award at the 2019 IPB Pride of Place awards last weekend.

900 representatives from counties across Ireland gathered in the Lyrath Estate Hotel for the Annual Pride of Place awards, hosted by Kilkenny County Council.

Sponsored by IPB, 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.

Three community groups nominated by Offaly County Council represented the county with great distinction at the 2019 competition. Representing the Edenderry Municipal District were St. Brigid’s Social Club in the Community Well-Being Initiative.

The group works closely with other community groups and strives to enhance community well-being through the provision of much needed social inclusion services. Currently, there are active retirement groups, a book club, art and crafts organisations and many other local groups using the centre. The highlight of the social calendar for St. Brigid’s is the Senior Citizens Party which caters for in excess of 80 people each Christmas. The group is a shining example to rural areas and have made their Community Centre and the services provided therein, a focal point for the local community.

In the population category 300- 1,000 and representing the Tullamore Municipal District is St. Colmcille’s Community Centre committee. Situated in the heart of the Durrow Community the Centre plays an integral role for people of all ages in the community. The current committee was established in 2014 with a mandate to fund and fully restore the Centre. The completely refurbished building was opened in August 2019 to an excellent standard and plays host to many activities in the locality; Progressive 25, Irish Set Dancing. GAA Meetings, Local Lottery, drama, Christmas and funeral events and Communion
celebrations. St. Colmcille’s Community Centre Committee works closely with neighbouring groups such as Durrow GAA and Durrow High Cross Committee. It is this understanding of Community values and partnership that has seen St. Colmcille’s Community Centre achieve so much in a relatively short space of time.

Finally, from the Birr Municipal District Area, Birr Tidy Towns were selected to represent the county in the Urban Neighbourhood category. Birr Tidy Towns have had a hectic year firstly being involved in Pride of Place and secondly winning silver in the National Tidy Towns awards last September. The icing on the cake was when Birr Tidy Towns were presented with an award at the all-Ireland 2019 Pride of Place Awards held last Saturday evening.

The town took a special award after judges were impressed with how the local community “takes enormous and justifiable pride in enhancing the town’s built heritage to its full potential – and whose ongoing work in this area is exemplary.” Cllr Peter Ormond Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council attending the awards night said: "I would like to offer huge congratulations to Birr Tidy Towns in attaining an award."

He went on to say that "the acknowledgement for the ceaseless dedication to Birr Town and its environs, not just this year but every year, was finally being recognised on a local and national stage."

Cllr John Clendennen echoed the congratulations of Cllr Ormond and added that "Birr Tidy Towns have worked tirelessly for years now to make Birr a better place to live and visit and we as councillors of Birr Municipal District are delighted to be able to assist them in their efforts."

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.”