Joint Winner: Ardmore, County Waterford
Between Dungarvan and Youghal you’ll come upon the award-winning village of Ardmore just off the N25. Wrapped around a long sandy beach the picturesque village is steeped in history being one of the oldest Christian settlements in Ireland. It is also renowned for its fine 12th century Round Tower, a perfectly proportioned monument to Irish monastic life. St Declan brought Christianity to the area before St Patrick came to Ireland and his feast day is “Pattern Day” every 24th July. Ardmore now has the famous Pattern Festival in July, which draws crowds from all over Ireland with a weekend of music and entertainment throughout the village. Ardmore caters to its thriving tourist industry with pubs, restaurants and the best in Irish art, pottery and crafts in the Ardmore craft shops displaying local and Irish talent. Vibrant local clubs and committees work together to make Ardmore an attractive destination in which to live and to visit.
The judges’ visit started with a meticulous and informative presentation. There was an excellent degree of organisation on the day with a fantastic exhibition of community pride, culture, environment, heritage and care for the people. As a demonstration of community cohesiveness and collaboration with the various agencies, in particular the local council, this entry was second to none. The approach of rebuilding a traditional festival to an event that brought great benefits to the area and as a vehicle to get community organisations to work together is especially praiseworthy. The judges attest that the visit to the beautiful seaside village of Ardmore was memorable in so many ways.
Joint Winner: Belcarra, Co Mayo
Belcarra is a rural village in the northern part of the plains of Mayo. The name Belcarra is derived from the Gaelic “Baile na Cora” meaning “village of the Weir”. A state of the art community /sports centre is situated in the centre of the village, housing a number of bronze-age artifacts which reflect the rich history of the area. Belcarra village has a long tradition of success in the Mayo Tidy Towns competition.
A number of voluntary action groups in the area have developed a Community Futures plan. With its own Website (www.belcarra.ie) the community has always looked for excellence in any local project undertaken. It has one of the finest heritage centres in the region, with preservation of the eviction cottage. The 8km Belcarra Fun run has become an important event in the local calendar. The Tidy Towns group, Handball Club and Foróige group have all achieved national recognition for their work and success.
The turnout and presentation on the occasion of the judges’ visit was truly spectacular and clearly demonstrated the very high level of community spirit that exists in Belcarra. Good planning in the past has enabled this community to develop in a very positive manner and sometimes a community is well served in a specific area by a particular community group, but Belcarra is blessed with a community organisation that is caring for all its citizens, it’s environment and it’s built heritage clearly proud of its past while focused on the welfare of the entire community into the future.