Pictured at the the IPB Pride of Place awards ceremony in the Armagh City Hotel, left to right: Con Corry of Ennis Men’s Shed; Bernadette Haugh, Senior Executive Officer in the Rural Development Directorate of Clare County Council; Christine O’Brien, Ardboula B&B, Tulla & secretary Tourism East Clare; Leas Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council Cllr. Gabriel Keating; and Harrison Gardner of Common Knowledge.
Clare’s longstanding record of success in the IPB Pride of Place competition has continued with the announcement on Friday night that Tourism East Clare and the Rekindle Festival of Lost Skills in Ennistymon have been named winners at an awards ceremony held in the Armagh City Hotel.
Three Clare Community projects were bidding for national glory in the all-island competition, which is organised by peacebuilding charity Co-operation Ireland and sponsored by IPB Insurance to showcase and celebrate exceptional community development efforts. This year marked the 21st anniversary of the awards, and the event was hosted by the UTV’s Pamela Ballantine
Nominated by Clare County Council, Tourism East Clare was named overall winner of Community Tourism Initiative category for its efforts to promote sustainable tourism development in the region by fostering relationships among local providers and offering unique tourism products and packages.
The Common Knowledge project “Rekindle Festival of Lost Skills” received a Special Award in recognition of its dedication to empowering individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary for joyful and sustainable living.
Meanwhile, Ennis Men’s Shed was named Runner Up of the Community Wellbeing Category in recognition of the proactive approach by volunteers to address mental health issues by establishing a state-of-the-art community facility.
Each of the projects were assessed by judges from IPB Pride of Place during August when group representatives made a formal presentation to adjudicators before hosting tours that highlighted the elements of the community and volunteer efforts of which they are most proud.
Clare has enjoyed considerable success in the competition during recent years with wins for Loop Head (2022), Clare Youth Action (2020), Shannon (2018), Cooraclare and Cree (2018), CLG Cuan an Chláir (2017), Doonbeg Community Development (2015) and Miltown Malbay (2013). Clare communities have also recorded numerous Runner-Up placings while County Council won a special award in 2014 for its contribution to the competition since it was first established in 2003.
Speaking following the awards ceremony, Leas Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council Cllr. Gabriel Keating (FG) said, “Every corner of the island of Ireland has been represented in this competition, each having their own unique story and having been deserving of their nomination due to the huge amounts of time, energy and thought invested in their respective projects. For Clare to record yet more wins is a huge source for pride for the local authority and every community and voluntary organisation across County Clare.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council commented, “This competition is all about pride of place and engendering a sense that one small deed or gesture of community spirit can have long-lasting, positive effects for an entire community. Volunteers from the three nominated projects have each demonstrated a clear vision for making their respective communities a more inclusive, welcoming and successful place in which to work and live. I particularly want to congratulate everyone associated with Common Knowledge, Tourism East Clare and Common Knowledge on their award wins and for giving freely of their time and energy to make a difference in their own community.”
Jason Murphy, Director of Services for Rural Development stated, “In nominating the three projects this year, Clare County Council has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to supporting projects that contribute to the wellbeing and development of the county and its communities. I warmly congratulate each of the winning projects for their dedication to making Clare a vibrant and attractive place for all.”
Reacting to the award win, Christine O’Brien of Clare Tourism East said, “We are overjoyed to achieve national success for our project and for having the honour of representing our county in this prestigious competition. We wish to thank Clare County Council for nominating us and for its support during the adjudication stage of the competition.
Harrison Gardner of Common Knowledge said, “I would like to acknowledge the many volunteers and community representatives that have supported our project, with whom we share this award win.”
Bernadette Haugh, Senior Executive Officer in the Rural Development Directorate of Clare County Council added, “The nominated projects represent the heart and soul of Clare, showcasing the commitment of its residents to enhancing their communities and creating sustainable, vibrant places for everyone to enjoy. We are delighted to have been able to support each of the projects as they prepared for judging stage of the competition, and we look forward to working with them to further enhance their areas in the future.”
Kathy Coleman, Pride of Place Coordinator for Clare County Council stated, “It is wonderful to see Clare building on its great success from last year when Loop Head Together Project received top honours in the ‘Coastal Community’ category and the Climate Action Special Award, with Scariff Community Council earning the Runner-Up position in their category.”
Ms. Coleman continued, “These award wins are a wonderful example of what can be achieved when people come together for the benefit of their local community.”