The town of Ballinrobe was put through its paces on Wednesday last, August 6, when judges in the prestigious Pride of Place awards scheme came to visit – and the local organisers declared themselves ‘very happy’ with how the adjudication went.
More than 80 people took part at various points around the town in what was a slick itinerary of events put together by Ballinrobe town management team.
“The adjudicators spent three hours with us to see all the work that has been done in terms of developing our community in recent years,” said Martin Murphy, chairperson, Ballinrobe town management team.
“We brought them on a whistle stop tour of Ballinrobe and I was very proud of what we were able to show them. There is no doubt but that there is huge community activity under way here in Ballinrobe, and so many people exhibiting real pride in their own place. We were very happy with the adjudication. The adjudicators really tuned into what we have been doing here in Ballinrobe.
“We showcased highlights such as Ballinrobe Racecourse, Lakeside Sports and Fitness Centre, the historic Harry Clarke windows in St Mary’s church, the Felix Waitkus Memorial, the Green Town Park, Ballinrobe Golf Club, and the various efforts made to promote the history of the town.
“There were impressive displays by individual groups such as TACU, Community Gardeners, Cemetery Committee, Active Retirement Association, Men's Shed, Tidy Towns, Kite Flyers, and Western Lakes Cycling Club which gave an immediate illustration and examples of their membership and activities.
“In addition brief interviews highlighted work done by The Playgroup, The After Schools, The Order of Malta and the interesting background to both the John King statue and the story of Felix Waitkus (Lithuanian Transatlantic flyer ) who landed here in 1935.
“The judges were impressed with the use of buildings and windows around the town to incorporate and illustrate community activities. Businesses in the town played their part by putting up colours and flags for the day, and by taking special steps to make their premises look clean and impressive.”
Clubs and community groups in the area sent representatives along to Lakeside Sports and Fitness club to meet with the adjudicators from Co-Operation Ireland, Donal Connolly and William Beattie.
“The Ballinrobe town management team was established in late 2013. The team is made up of representatives of organisations from Ballinrobe, Ballinrobe area engineer and Ballinrobe public reps,” added Mr Murphy.
Pride of Place is an all-island competition that acknowledges the work that communities are doing all over the island of Ireland. The competition focus is on people getting together to shape, change, and improve daily lives in their communities. Ballinrobe will be represented at the awards ceremony in Treacy’s West County Hotel, Ennis, Co Clare, on November 15.
Mr Murphy thanked the sub-committee who put Wednesday’s tour together – Mary Jackson, David Hall, Willie Culkeen, Peter Heaps, Averil Staunton, Padraig Costello, Deirdre Butler, and Liam Horan. “They rallied the town behind them and that was the key to the success of the adjudication visit. We are extremely grateful to all who helped to make the day a success – they are too numerous to mention here,” added Martin.
“The support offered by Mayo County Council should be acknowledged – not alone did they nominate us for this award, but, led by Neil Sheridan, they provided excellent support throughout. County manager Peter Hynes and council executive Cora Gilligan joined us on the day to witness the work we had done, and we are continuing to do here in Ballinrobe. The staff of TACU, which is the local family resource centre here in Ballinrobe, played a huge part in preparing for the event.”
The feedback from many of the groups involved in this event is that awareness of each other’s activities has been raised and that this is another step forward in highlighting and building upon the good work already being carried out within community groups. A ‘must see’ slideshow of the Ballinrobe Community activities is available on the TACU Facebook page. After watching it many people will be interested in learning more about and joining the various groups in Ballinrobe.