Ballybay Takes Top Award in 2010 Pride of Place Competition

19 November 2010 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Ballybay, Co Monaghan received one of the top awards in the annual Co-operation Ireland All-Island Pride of Place Competition announced on Saturday night last at the Knightsbrook Hotel, Trim, County Meath. Inniskeen took runner-up prize in the Category three section, which is for populations between 500-1000.

Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, presented them with their award during the gala ceremony, which was hosted by Meath County Council. TV personality Marty Whelan was MC for the evening.

Competing against communities from all over Ireland, north and south, Ballybay were victorious in category four which is for is for areas with a population between 1,000 and 2,000. The judges said: “The success of this group in reinvigorating their town has been truly remarkable. Never setting their horizons low they embarked on a daunting programme of development and their achievements now speak for themselves. ”They bought and developed a derelict property to provide retail outlets, holiday accommodation and meeting rooms; they purchased a farm and set about developing a Wetlands Centre built to the highest spec; they developed an outdoor bowling green; they provided facilities for those suffering from intellectual disabilities – the list goes on. They are completely transforming what was once a derelict town.”

Collecting the award on behalf of the community of Ballybay, Ballybay Development Association’s Chairman Pat O Brien commended the support of the many groups which helped to prepare the bid and who gave their time to show the judges around last August. The judges visited Birch Court and the Wetlands Centre, both developed by the BDA, then were chauffeured around the town in the community bus donated by the McCarthy family to visit the Community Creche, the new complex at the Pearse Bros GAA grounds, Cuan Mhuire, and the Town park with its playground and all weather bowling green. The judges were particularly impressed with the determination of the groups to work together for the good of the community, as evidenced by Pearse Bros’ giving up of a lease on lands in the town park in order to enable the crèche project to proceed.  The judges were particularly inspired by the way the community of Ballybay have taken the Camp Hill community and the people residing at Cuan Mhuire into the heart of community activity.

Rosaleen Kearney of Inniskeen Enterprise Development and Ann Marie Mulholland from the Tidy Towns committee, accepted Inniskeen’s award on behalf of the community of Inniskeen.  They thanked the committees of the Social Club, the Defibrillator project, Community Alert, Parc Grattan, the Pitch n Putt, the Angling Club, Mol an Oige, the local primary schools, Monaghan Way Walks, the Credit Union, the Gun Club and Drumcattan Church for their help in hosting the judges’ visit. Local businesses which supported the bid included Irish Country Quads, Gleneven Guesthouse and Matthews Coach Hire. The judges were impressed with the number of people who accompanied them around Inniskeen, and with the longevity of community endeavour in the area, with many of the groups in operation for over twenty years.

The picture-postcard appearance of Kavanagh Country was seen to great effect from the comfort of a Matthews coach, with Art Agnew providing excerpts of poetry to embellish the scenery. The judges were particularly impressed with the determination of local people to conserve their heritage, singling out the work being done to Billy Brennan’s Barn, the restoration of the Church of Ireland building in the village centre, and the Kavanagh Centre itself as important projects for Ireland, not just for Inniskeen. The hospitality of the Poet’s Rest coffee shop, which provided lunch to the delegation also gained special mention. A DVD showing the great work being done by groups around the parish was shown to the judges during their visit. It is planned to stage a public showing of this DVD to celebrate the parish’s success in Pride of Place.

Speaking at the Awards ceremony on Saturday night, Ann Marie Mulholland was high in her praise of the dedication of the people of Inniskeen to their community and of their determination to conserve Kavanagh Country for the people of Ireland.

During the evening, the Minster paid tribute to all the participating groups who work tirelessly to create and promote pride in their cities, towns and villages.

Peter Sheridan Chief Executive of Co-operation Ireland said:

“Winning a Pride of Place Award is a great achievement – it recognises and celebrates those people who work tirelessly for the good of their community.

Although there can only be one winner in each category, the Pride of Place Competition is an opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of all groups nominated by their local authority.

”Given the economic climate, we have been delighted with the interest there has been in this year’s competition. It is an indication of the flourishing community spirit there is around the island of Ireland.

This is the eighth year of the Pride of Place Competition, which is run by Co-operation Ireland in partnership with the All-Island Local Authority Steering Forum, a forum which encourages strategic and sustainable approaches to cross-border co-operation by Local Authorities.

Nominations for consideration for a Pride of Place Award are made by Local Authorities, which put forward each year the cream of community endeavour to represent their area.  Speaking on behalf of Monaghan County Council, Mayor Jackie Crowe, said: “Monaghan County Council nominated these groups because of their excellent work over the past number of years. Community work often goes un-noticed in an area, as it tends to be background in nature. We wanted to recognise the contribution these communities have made over the years to the development of their area and to thank them on behalf of the wider community for making the county a better place. I’m very proud of what Ballybay and Inniskeen have achieved here tonight. They are deserving of recognition at the highest level.”

Also nominated in this year’s competition for their outstanding work on behalf of the people of Co Monaghan were the business community of Monaghan town, represented by Monaghan Chamber of Commerce, whose many initiatives over the past twelve months have been a real life saver for many businesses during these difficult economic times; Mullaghmatt Housing Estate for the creation of a dynamic and welcoming place to live, and the town of Castleblayney, whose achievements in supporting both local people and businesses earned the town a third nomination to the competition.

“Co Monaghan groups are inspirational leaders in community development, and this has been reflected by the county’s success in the Pride of Place competition over the years,” said Carol Lambe, co-ordinator of the competition for Monaghan County Council. “Although unlucky here tonight, Castleblayney, Mullaghmatt and the business community of Monaghan town are worthy of the highest honour. We hope that recognition of their tremendous work will not be far away. In the meantime, Monaghan County Council will continue to support their work, and the work of all those who strive to make Co Monaghan a better place to live.”

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