Winner: Doughiska/ Merlin Woods, Galway
Doughiska, on the eastern outskirts of Galway City developed rapidly during the Celtic Tiger Period. Unfortunately, the rate of house building far outpaced the development of infrastructure and services leaving a vibrant, young, multi-cultural community without local services and places to meet. The Doughiska, Roscam and Ardaun Community Development Company (DRA) set about compiling a “Community Profile, Needs Analysis and Action Plan,” through a household survey. Local people worked together to create a community based on the wishes identified by the people. Schools, a Family Resource Centre and Church have now opened along with improved bus services, adult education courses, school and youth services, a primary care centre, employment supports and a new park area, maintained by the Council and local volunteer group – Friends of Merlin Woods. Focused intercultural work has led to the formation of the Connect Intercultural group which holds an annual festival. Residents Associations and other groups have formed and deliver many ad hoc events and projects.
The judges were impressed at the outset and were unstinting in their praise of this Category Two entry. With a growing population now in excess of 7,000 this community has shown a remarkable capacity to cater for the needs of a diverse, multicultural population, which totally lacked basic social, educational, health and recreational facilities and services. The umbrella community development company recently acquired a modern, but closed down hotel premises and transformed this into a multi-purpose community facility. This partnership provides strategic direction and empowers the local community to provide a range of services and programmes locally. This project demonstrates best practice in co-operation, collaboration, integration and social inclusion of the highest calibre.