The Love Where You Live Leitrim 2018 Awards took place this year on 10th October in Lough Rynn Castle. The Awards are about thanking communities and celebrating their achievements.
The event was co-hosted by Eanna Ni Lamhna, renowned Biologist and Environmental Consultant, (who judged all the environmental entries)and Marion Fitzgerald, well known for her popular show on Ocean FM on Sunday mornings. Carole Coleman, RTE Journalist, was a guest presenter on the night. The wonderful evening was enriched with performances by the Millennium Choir and Ronnie Duignan.
The Love Where You Live Awards are split over eight categories:
The Environmental Categories are sponsored by Leitrim County Council and recognise the immense voluntary work and commitment of communities, schools, businesses, Tidy Towns committees and residents associations. The awards in this category are Cleaner and Greener Award, Schools Award, Best Kept Estates Award and Business Award.
The Community categories are sponsored by PPN (Public Participation Network) and recognise voluntary community groups, including the individuals who work quietly behind the scenes. The awards are: Community Resources, Social Inclusion, Community Resilience and, the backbone of every community, an Unsung Hero.
Photo: PPN Secretariat members, with guest judges Éanna Ní Lamhna and Marian Fitgerald, Cathaoirleach Sean McGowan, and PPN Development Officer Tracy Ferguson.
Awards were presented for each of the three Municipal Districts: Ballinamore, Carrick-on-Shannon and Manorhamilton.
The first award of the night was the Schools Award. It recognises schools that encourage awareness of the natural environment and upkeep of their school surroundings.
· Drumeela National School (pictured above) won this category in the Ballinamore Municipal District for environmental awareness that permeates every facet of the school.
· St Manchan's National School, Mohill was the winner in the Carrick on Shannon l District, for great awareness of biodiversity and a lovely display of trees, as well as excellent and colourful nature signage.
· Lough Allen College In Manorhamilton Municipal District, pupils demonstrated great environmental awareness and enthusiasm despite very heavy rain on the day!
Well done to all the schools involved. It was felt this year that the work carried out by pupils, teachers and staff was of a very high standard. With this in mind representatives from all schools that entered were awarded vouchers to purchase a native tree.
The next award was presented by Carole Coleman and it was an Exceptional Recognition Award for the students and teachers of Rang Carrig of Carrigallen Vocational School for their pride in everything they do and ability to face the future with ambition and excitement.
The Community Resources Award recognises community buildings that are used to capacity and every effort is made to get services in that the people want. Immense work goes into getting and sustaining groups and buildings, often over decades.
· Drumreilly Active Age was the winner in the Ballinamore Municipal District. They impressed the judge with their can do attitude and zest for life.
· Mohill Family Support Centre, winner in the Carrick District, is a fantastic resource for Mohill. The team here have made exceptional use of every nook and cranny in the building.
· Tullaghan Development Association was reenergised within the past 18 months and has gone from strength to strength ensuring the community centre is a hub for future development of the whole area, including tourism enterprises.
The Business Award recognises businesses that have a lovely premises/shopfront, floral display and green initiatives. There were many impressive entries, and the three winners were outstanding:
· The Old Rectory Guesthouse & Wedding Venue, Fenagh (pictured below)
· The Brandywell, Dromod
· The Stanford Inn & Village Tea Rooms, Dromahair
The nominees in the Social Inclusion category are groups that create opportunities for everyone to fully participate in local life, regardless of physical or intellectual ability or mental health, or where they are from. They do this, most often with little funding, not for recognition or praise but simply because it right thing to do for their town or village or parish area.
· Ballinamore Community Garden was the winner in the Ballinamore Municipal District
The judge was impressed with their progress since last year and the strides they had made with participation and membership.
· Breffni Community Development
Breffni Community Development CLG supports everyone around them with a vast and varied schedule of programmes and projects. They are particularly good at welcoming hard to reach groups including young adults, new communities, people with mental health issues and learning disabilities and those requiring educational supports.
· Drumkeeran Friendship Club
This group that holds weekly meetings and regular trips and activities to ensure that their local and international membership are engaged physically and socially.
The Best Kept Estates Award encourages residents to enhance the appearance and presentation of their homes and open spaces within their estates. The judging criteria in this category includes: voluntary community effort, open spaces, presentation of dwellings and green initiatives.
· Dún na Bó, Ballinamore
This estate was one of the unfinished estates in Leitrim. The residents came together with great community spirit and resilience, so all could enjoy the green areas
· The pump (Leitrim Village) is a celebration of living in a village centre, despite the lack of open spaces. The houses look immaculate with lovely floral displays, watered directly from the river. This residential area enhances the whole village.
· Pairc An Mhuillain (pictured below) is a very attractive estate, with beautiful planted areas and seating with lovely recycling projects, all done by the residents.
The keeping of Estates is a huge collaborative and voluntary effort. With this in mind representatives from all housing estates that entered were awarded vouchers to purchase a native tree:
The Community Resilience Award recognises the continued and ongoing work of groups where they may not have a base or have one particular issue to address, or just generally continue their work in the face of depopulation, lack of funding and other issues.
· Keeldra Lake Amenity Development Committee represents a wide spectrum of local people and only regrouped about a year ago. In that time they have made the lakeside a source of pride for the area.
· Leitrim International Community Group work to integrate into the community of Carrick on Shannon by open events, sharing food and music and culture. They also support new communities by providing practical information and friendship as well as opportunities for expression and voice.
· Kilty Live galvanised their community and made an appeal for families to move to the village, when faced with the closure of their school. They succeeded in drawing national and international attention to the village and several new families moved to the area.
The Cleaner and Greener Award recognises communities who improve their area using environmentally friendly methods. It is open to Community Groups e.g. Tidy Towns, Local Development Groups etc. The Judging criteria are voluntary community effort, litter control, landscaping, biodiversity, sustainable waste and resources, and endeavour. In recognition of the exceptional work carried out by groups and in honour of the 60th Anniversary of Tidy Towns, this year there was a winner and a special merit award within each Municipal District in this category.
· Cloone Tidy Towns, (photo below) the winner in Ballinamore Municipal District, is consistently well kept with plants and flowers all the way through, including a beautiful community and wildflower garden. Expansion this year of the Bothar na Naomh trail behind the village, around the lake is testament to this community's commitment to biodiversity.
Ballinamore Tidy Towns received the Special Merit Award in this district for the hard work of the voluntary group and a real community effort, with of the Men’s Shed, Schools and Businesses all working together.
· Dromod Tidy Towns (see photo) was the winner in the Carrick on Shannon Municipal District, for its excellent voluntary effort sustained over a large area, including a nature walk and beautiful quayside area. All planted areas showed great attention to biodiversity. Of particular note were initiatives such as "Zero Waste Dromod" and dog poo stations!
Carrick on Shannon Tidy Towns received the Special Merit Award for the large team of volunteers who work tirelessly. This linear park area is a beautiful amenity for the local community and enhances the whole town.
· Dromahair Development Association and Tidy Towns (see photo) won the award in the Manorhamilton Municipal District for great community effort and awareness, beautiful and innovative new signage, as well as lovely landscaping. Fantastic biodiversity throughout gives a great overall impression.
Drumkeerin Tidy towns received the Special Merit Award for longstanding community effort. The overall village is very attractive with shops and houses all well presented. A beautiful Failte sign on arrival in addition to a lovely orchard and landscaped areas have enhance the overall village.
The Unsung Hero Award recognises those individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to their local community.
Every community has individuals who seem to be boundless in their energy and determination to get things done for their area. Sometimes these people have no choice but to be upfront and visibly leading. Others quietly and steadily keep going and join the photos reluctantly. Whatever their personal style, they make it look easy but it is not. They stay up late, leave their firesides on wet nights and encourage others when they could do with a pat on the back themselves.
There are unsung heroes in all our communities. Nominations were sought from communities for these awards and one winner was chosen from each district tonight.
Leitrim’s Unsung Heroes for 2018 are:
· Lorna McCarthy of Keshcarrigan Development Association. Lorna works tirelessly for the upkeep of Keshcarrigan village. She does all the form–filling – a thankless task - and liaises with the community, workers and funding bodies to make sure the work gets done and the everything is in order, without any problems. She keeps everyone informed and does everything with ease and without complaint.
· Gabriel Cox of Carrick on Shannon Rowing Club. Gabriel is a well respected member of the rowing community in Carrick on Shannon, Connacht and Nationally. His vision and devotion over many years have brought success to the Club through floods, emigration and unemployment. The recent decision by Rowing Ireland to award the National Schools and Universities Championship to county Leitrim is testament to his quiet and unassuming work.
· Michael Lonican of Manorhamilton Tidy Towns Group. Another reluctant hero, Michael is well known in Manorhamilton for his work with Tidy Towns. While he has worked with the members to increase Manorhamilton’s scores each year, it is his other work, assisting offenders, his dedication to the principals of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, his leadership by example with community, businesses and schools, AND his many private acts of kindness that enhance the community of Manorhamilton in so many ways.
Congratulations again to all the nominees for the Love Where You Live Leitrim 2018 Awards.
The competition was fierce and we hope you will enter again next year even if you didn’t walk away with a prize.