THE community of Killeshin scooped a major prize at this year’s national Pride of Place awards in Cork over the weekend.
Representatives from the village were overjoyed when it was announced that Killeshin had won a runner-up gong in the 300 to 1,000 population category at the annual awards ceremony.
The award, which recognises extraordinary community spirit, was accepted by local residents Laurence Phelan, Trish Phelan, Mike Moran and Claire McHugh.
Transformation of the village centre has been the main focus of activists for the past number of years, which has seen the development of a vibrant community hub that now employs 63 people. The centre attracts community organisations and local businesses and provides space for pre- and after-school services as well as sports and social gatherings. A recent addition to the village has been a Saplings school for children with autism.
The judges said that “Killeshin is a community that looks after the old, nurtures the young and the vulnerable and cherishes its heritage and culture. From drama to pipe bands, this little community has much to offer, not only its residents but also neighbouring localities and the wider community in Laois.”
As well as local community representatives, the gala awards ceremony in Cork City Hall was attended by Laois County Council’s chief executive John Mulholland, while cathaoirleach of the local authority was represented by cllr Pádraig Fleming. Also in attendance were councillors Paschal McEvoy, Ben Brennan and staff from Laois County Council as well as members of Stradbally, Vicarstown, Timahoe (SVT) Activity and Wellness Hub. The latter group representing Laois in the community wellness category, where it performed extremely well.
Since the competition began as a pilot project in 2002, towns and organisations in various parts of Laois have entered and many have won major awards. Among them are Portarlington, Ratheniska, Portlaoise Parish Centre, The Green estate in Stradbally, Durrow, Mountmellick Christmas Tree Committee, Stradbally, Riverview Apartments in Portlaoise, Clonaslee, Rathdowney/Errill and Ballacolla. Laois County Council also won the overall award in 2009 for the best local authority.
The annual competition, described as the Oscars of the community sector, celebrates the often unsung work of groups that selflessly work to make their neighbourhoods a better place in which to live, work or visit. Organised by Co-Operation Ireland and sponsored by IPB Insurance, local authorities on both sides of the border nominate outstanding projects that contribute to civic pride.