The awards, hosted by Marty Morrissey, took place online due to the Covid pandemic with 6,000 people logging in from across Ireland to see community groups pick up gongs.
Blarney Village took top spot in the Urban Neighbourhoods With a Population under 3,000 category with judges praising them for developing a
“a very caring community, with fantastic volunteers, where a very impressive list of activities was presented. Notwithstanding a celebrated and established tourist attraction the judges were in no doubt that this is a community with great heart and spirit.”
SHEP’s efforts to improve awareness on climate change were praised for telling,
“a persuasive story of climate chaos, climate justice, intergenerational justice and loss of bio-diversity thanks to the efforts of their volunteers.” They took top spot in the Community Climate Action Initiative category.
SHEP Earth Aware and Elders for Earth are part of the community education and development organisation SHEP (Social and Health Education Project).
As for Cork County, Cork County Council put forward three community groups who have made significant contribution to improving their neighbourhood; Ahiohill Tidy Towns in Category 1 (Population under 300), Dromahane Community Park Group in Category 2 (Population 300 – 1,000) and Skibbereen & District Chamber of Commerce in Category 4 (Population 2,000 – 5,000).
Skibbereen & District Chamber of Commerce won its category. Skibbereen, a market town steeped in history, is a progressive, forward thinking town. It suffered in the downturn but is now frequently cited as a model for the re-invigoration of other rural towns around the country. The most southerly town in Ireland, Skibbereen has a population of almost 3,000 but serves a hinterland of around 10,000, making it an important centre for business, tourism and culture. There is lately a renewal of interest amongst the business and community groups in re-imagining the possibilities for the town and its environs, with a strong emphasis on reducing the community’s carbon footprint. Skibbereen & District Chamber of Commerce while based in the business community is interested in how the town presents itself to visitors and locals and further developing it as a tourist destination. The Chamber sponsors/supports a number of community group projects and festivals and works closely with Cork County Council on public realm projects and the more recent Project ACT (Activating County Towns).
The category winner is a progressive town, revitalized and reimagined, with great plans for the future, with the Chamber of Commerce to the fore in much of the progress that has taken place. Implementation of a flood relief scheme, completion of a purpose built art centre and the managing of the local tourist office convinced the judges of serious vision.