The Ennis Age Friendly Town Strategy (2021) was winner of the ‘Age Friendly Environment’ award at the National Age Friendly Recognition and Achievement Awards 2022. Pictured (left to right) are: Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council; Cllr Tony O’Brien, Cathaoirleach, Clare County Council; Carmel Kirby, Director of Physical Development, Clare County Council; Cllr Mary Howard, Deputy Mayor of Ennis Municipal District, who accepted the award on behalf of the Council; Eamon O’Dea, Senior Executive Engineer, Ennis Municipal District; Ger Craddock, Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, who presented the award; Larry Hally, Clare Older People’s Council; Superintendent John Galvin, An Garda Síochána; Leonore O’Neill, Senior Executive Officer, Ennis Municipal District; Karen Fennessy, Clare Age Friendly Programme Manager; and Tommy Scott, Senior Executive Technician, Ennis Municipal District.

OVER 250 people from across Ireland attended the National Age Friendly Recognition and Achievement Awards ceremony hosted by Clare County Council at Dromoland Castle.

Age-friendly initiatives from around the country that are contributing to making Ireland a great place in which to grow old are showcased through the awards. The event was presented by Age Friendly Ireland, a shared service function of Local Government in Meath County Council, and was hosted and sponsored by Clare County Council.

Shannon Airport along with Ireland West Airport Knock received the age friendly transport award while Ennis was named winner of the age friendly environment award.

Quilty’s Marty Morrissey was MC for the sixth annual awards ceremony, the first of which was held in 2014. Clare County Council expressed an interest to host the awards with Age Friendly Ireland in 2020, however due to the pandemic in early 2020 and like many other events, the awards ceremony had to be postponed.

In 2022 in consultation with Older People’s Councils it was collectively agreed that there was a huge appetite to bring back the awards, given the dreadful events of the previous two and a half years. Clare has been an Age Friendly County since 2013 and has made significant progress in embedding an age-friendly approach to all of their work.

The Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme has been running for nearly 15 years and has been implemented by all 31 Local Authorities in Ireland, the programme is built on the recognition of the valuable role that older people can and should play in shaping their communities for the better and it aims to make Ireland a truly great place in which to grow old.

This year eight categories of awards, aligning to the themes of the World Health Organisation Age Friendly Cities and Communities, were presented to age-friendly projects in recognition for their innovative and creative approach to making Ireland a great place in which to grow old.

Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling said, “It is important that as a society we recognise and acknowledge initiatives that support older people and make Ireland a great place to grow old. I would like to congratulate all the Award recipients and all those who were shortlisted, and I commend all the individuals and organisations who contribute to making Ireland a more age-friendly and inclusive place”.

Simple additions to the town of Ennis such as adequate public seating, level footpaths and appropriate crossing times at pedestrian crossings were acknowledged as having a huge impact on the ability of older people to be active in their towns and villages.

The Ennis Age Friendly Town Strategy was formulated and implemented by the Ennis Age Friendly Town Team, a group formed by the Age Friendly Programme Manager and led by Ennis Municipal District. The strategy contained actions across a number of areas including improvements in the physical environment, urban policing, social and recreational infrastructure, health and wellbeing and age-friendly orientated customer service. Enhancements to the physical environment included drop kerbs, additional pedestrian crossings, age-friendly seating, age-friendly parking as well as accessibility enhancements to recreational areas. The implementation of the strategy ensures the needs of the older person are incorporated into the design and delivery of services and infrastructure in Ennis.

Deputy Mayor of the Ennis MD, Cllr Mary Howard (FG) who accepted the award on behalf of the Council, commented: “These enhancements in our urban environment will significantly impact the quality of older persons’ lives, keeping them engaged and active in their communities.”

Carmel Kirby, Director of Physical Development, Clare County Council, acknowledged “the important contribution that the Ennis Age Friendly Town Team have made to the lives of older residents and visitors to Ennis, with targeted interventions, thereby ensuring Ennis is a great place in which to grow old”.

Both Shannon and Knock became the first airports in the world to be recognised as Age Friendly, endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in June of this year.

Commenting on the win, CEO of The Shannon Airport Group Mary Considine said, “At Shannon Airport, we understand how much it means to our older community to be able to get to where they want to go, when they want to go. It is amazing how a change in infrastructure can make something so accessible and user friendly for all ages.

“Things like designated age-friendly parking, better and bigger signage, putting a cover over our walkways to shield passengers from the rain, wind, or even the hot sun as they journey to and from an aircraft. These are just some of the initiatives we have implemented here at Shannon, which are already having such a beneficial impact on our older community. It’s about making people feel safe and welcome, as well as making their journey through Shannon easier. It’s wonderful to have won this award and I want to congratulate all of the award winners from across the categories and thank our team for their commitment to this fantastic initiative”.

The winners in each category were:

1. Age Friendly Transport Award
World’s 1st Age Friendly Airports: Shannon Airport & Ireland West Airport Knock

2. Age Friendly Active & Healthy Aging Award
Wexford Telehealth Pilot Project

3. Age Friendly Business Innovation Award
Boots Ireland making their stores Dementia Inclusive

4. Age Friendly Safety & Security Award
An Garda Síochána Digital Mapping Older Persons Register

5. Age Friendly Communication Award
Friendly Call Cork – Reaching and supporting the most isolated older person

6. Age Friendly Environment Award
Ennis, Co. Clare, Age Friendly Town

7. Age Friendly Community Innovation Award
Tipperary Age Friendly EXPO Event for Older Adults

8. Age Friendly Housing Award
Rochestown House, Dun Laoghaire Rathvon County Council’s Older Person’s Development

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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