National Pride of Place judges Donal Connolly and William Beattie with Mairead Cranley, Donegal County Council and Mary McGettigan Donegal Town Community Chambers during the visit to Donegal town
This week saw judges from the national Pride of Place competition visit Donegal to adjudicate on four Donegal projects which have been nominated by Donegal County Council for this year’s finals.
The projects are Falcarragh Parish Development, Dungloe Network Development, Greencastle Community Development and Donegal Town Community Chambers.
Judges Donal Connolly and William Beattie visited each of the projects during their two-day visit to Donegal this week.
They first visited Ionad Naomh Fionnán on Wednesday morning meeting with the Falcarragh Parish Development and other community volunteers who frequently use the new state of the art community centre which was opened in November 2018.
The judges learned about the work of the group, how they transformed the original Halla Naomh Fionnán into a state of the art Ionad Naomh Fionnán. During a tour of the centre, the judges saw first-hand the various facilities available including the main hall, multipurpose rooms, catering facilities and the outdoor Astro Turf pitch. The centre is used for bingo, dances and concerts and also by the local Marching band and cycling club. The judges were treated to a cup of tea and some home-made refreshments.
The judges then made a short trip to the beautiful town of Dungloe where they were met by the Dungloe Community Network. The judges learned about the work being done to achieve their vision for Dungloe Tourism and how they have worked tirelessly to enhance existing facilities and events as well as develop new ones.
Their work in developing and growing events such as the Dungloe Street Feast and the famous Mary from Dungloe festival was highlighted. The judges visited the newly upgraded pond – the outdoor seawater swimming pool on the Wild Atlantic Way, the Cope Mountain Walk, the sensory garden and the newly developed Dungloe Bay walk. All these new developments have added greatly to the amenities available in Dungloe for both locals and tourists. The visit finished in the Bridge Inn, where the judges enjoyed performances by the local talented musicians and dancers from the area.
Day two saw the judges travel north to the scenic fishing village of Greencastle on the Inishowen Peninsula where they met with the Greencastle Community Development group to find out more about their determined drive to develop their multipurpose Community Centre for the people of the area. A range of services is provided in the centre including training and counselling services all delivered by volunteers. They also learned about the first automated life-saving external defibrillator in Inishowen which is installed in the centre. The judges were treated to a choral performance by patients from the Carndonagh Dementia nursing home and they even enjoyed a dance or two.
In the afternoon, the judges travelled south to Donegal Town to meet with the Donegal Town Community Chambers where they visited the Waterbus on Donegal Bay and learned more about the varied projects being delivered in the area. This included improvements works to the river walk, which is home to two Red Squirrel families, and to the playground and discovered more about plans for the Diamond.
The judges also heard first-hand about the voluntary work involved in hosting a range of festivals including the Summer festival, St Patrick's Day Parade and the Food Festival which is now one of the largest food festivals in Ireland. Hosting the National Older Persons Convention which included a walkability audit of the town was also highlighted. The judges remarked on the bio-diversity difference being made in the area as they toured the town. The judges were also treated to a performance from the local marching band in the Donegal Castle and finished their visit with a trip to the newly developed Men’s Shed.
The Pride of Place Competition is hosted by Cooperation Ireland and each year groups from all over Ireland enter the competition. Mairead Cranley, Social Inclusion Co-ordinator with Donegal County Council thanked all the groups in Donegal that entered this year’s competition saying: “We would like to thank all groups for entering the competition. We were overawed with the great work being done all over the county by volunteers. The hard work of each of these committees and groups is what creates that pride of place in a community”.
She also thanked all four groups who hosted a visit from the judges this week for their efforts in welcoming the judges to their own community and to Donegal and wished them well in the National Pride of Place Competition with winners set to be announced at a special awards ceremony on 30th November in Kilkenny.