*Carrigaholt volunteer Mags Keane, Clare Volunteer of the Year’, pictured with Mayor of Clare Councillor Michael Begley at the inaugural Clare Community Awards 2019. Photograph: Paschal Brooks

Carrigaholt volunteer Mags Keane and Clarecastle were named ‘Volunteer of the Year’ and ‘Community of the Year’ respectively at the inaugural Clare Community Awards ceremony held in Hotel Woodstock on Thursday night.

Hosted by Clare County Council, the awards scheme celebrates the valuable contribution made by County Clare’s community groups and volunteers to their local area.

Other winners on the night included Shannonside Winterage Music Festival, Sixmilebridge (Best Festival/Event), Kilrush Tidy Towns (Community Environmental Award), Laghtagoona, Corofin (Best Kept Private Residential Area), Pairc na Coille Residents Association, Ennis (Best Kept Public Residential Area), Lisdoonvarna, Doolin, Kilfenora & Kilshanny Community Games (Community Enhancement Award) and Clare Youth Action (Community Innovation Award).

More than 200 community representatives attended the awards ceremony along with elected embers and representatives of Clare County Council. RTÉ’s Marty Morrissey acted as MC.

Community representatives from Clarecastle, ‘Clare Community of the Year’, pictured with Mayor of Clare Councillor Michael Begley at the inaugural Clare Community Awards 2019. Photograph: Paschal Brooks

Councillor Michael Begley, Mayor of Clare, commented, “This awards programme has provided Clare County Council the opportunity to show its appreciation of the work hundreds of Clare community groups and volunteers carry out on a daily basis to improve their local areas. All of those nominated for an award have made a telling contribution to life in communities the length and breadth of the county.”

Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, added, “The local authority appreciates that the volunteerism ethos and strong community spirit that exists in Clare and which is the lifeblood of our local communities. These awards honour those people who give freely of their time to give something back to their local community, and in doing so deliver a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits for those areas. On behalf of Clare County Council, I want to acknowledge their contribution and congratulate everyone who participated in this awards scheme.”

Representatives from Lisdoonvarna, Doolin, Kilfenora & Kilshanny Community Games (Community Enhancement Award) pictured with Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, and MC Marty Morrissey at the inaugural Clare Community Awards 2019. Photograph: Paschal Brooks

According to the adjudication panel for the Clare Community Awards, the local community Clarecastle was named overall ‘Community of the Year’ for demonstrating their “dedicated persistence resulting in a substantial enhancement of their village during 2018.”

The judges noted “Clarecastle has a number of very strong voluntary community groups to include the Tidy Towns group, Heritage and Wildlife group, 3rd Clare Scout group, Men’s Shed, Clarecastle GAA Health and Wellbeing Club to name a few.  The voluntary effort of this community provides inter-generational benefits, showing the youth the importance of living and growing in a community to be proud of.  Through the persistence of Clarecastle’s network, they have demonstrated how a community can overcome adversity to stimulate rural regeneration and make a lasting impact on a village for residents and visitors alike.”

‘Volunteer of the Year’ Mags Keane from Carrigaholt was lauded for her central role in a range of community activities and initiatives, including the establishing of a community walk to assist members of the community in combating loneliness and rural isolation, the organising of fundraising efforts for the local GAA club, her support role in West Clare Cancer Support and her organising role in local festivals. Other nominees in the ‘Volunteer of the Year’ category included Mike Rohan (Bunratty Local Development Association), Dermot Hayes (Clare Leader Forum), John Dunne (Clare 250 Mile Cycle),  Michael Cassidy (Labasheeda Community Pride), Brendan Cusack (LDKK Community Games) and Sharon Donnellan (Tulla Scouts 12th Clare).

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