Building The Local Community

On 17 July, Judges travelled to Ionad Naomh Padraig in Donegal to meet with Coiste Forbartha Dhobhair Teo

Coiste Forbartha Dhobhair Teo is a community led development group based in the Ghaeltacht area of Northwest Donegal. They have been rejuvenating and building the local community since 1996. They aim to inspire people to believe in themselves and use their talents and skills to benefit and aid the lives of others.

Coiste Forbartha Dhobhair Teo is a huge presence in the community, and work with people through various means such as:

  • Encouraging social, cultural and educational activities such as workshops and courses
  • Providing a resource base which will give locals access to services, facilities and advice
  • Identifying needs within the community
  • Supporting new and developing groups and clubs
  • Encouraging people to become involved in community development


The judges arrived at Ionad Naomh Padraig to learn more about the work the group do. They were first given a brief history of the Centre, which was erected in 2006 and extended in 2010 at an overall cost of 1.7 million in which the community successfully fundraised €350,000.00, Ionad Naomh Pádraig is now community owned.

Over 2,500 people make regular use of the facility, both from the community and surrounding areas. The centre houses groups and workshops, as well as adult education courses. The aim of the centre is to improve people’s lives in recreation and education. The judges were impressed by how the centre has brought people together in unity and development.

The Garden Of Hope

The day was then followed with a tour of the centre and a meet and greet with the staff. They were joined by children from the Campa Samhraidh, representatives of the Irish Wheelchair Association and representatives of Donegal County Council. The committee gave a presentation along with a video of a day in the life of INP.

After a Q&A session, the judges were then taken to see “The Singers Nest” and “The Garden of Hope” in the Community Garden “An Chraoibhín Aoibhinn”. They were impressed by the amount of work that was put into the gardens, and could see that it was a source of pride for those involved.

Gareth Austin, a Horticulture Tutor with National Learning Networks, then spoke about the FETAC level 5 horticulture courses that ran within the Centre. He spoke about how much of an asset the community garden was for teaching and team work in the course.


Finally the judges learnt about the voluntary community members who play an integral part in running the Community Garden project. They were guided by Joanne Butler, a tutor with the ETB.

The judges left Ionad Naomh Padraig inspired by the work done to maintain the community gardens, and how it is a source of education and adult development for many.

For more information, visit the Ionad Naomh Padraig website or check out the Ionad Naomh Padraig Facebook.