THESE last few weeks have been busy ones for five community projects across Donegal as they showcased the pride they have in their own communities to the national Pride of Place judges.
Each of these groups are competing in this year’s prestigious national Pride of Place Awards competition and the national ceremony will take place, for the first time ever, in the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny on December 2.
The judges started their trip to Donegal by visiting the Letterkenny Youth & Family Service (LYFS) . Having hosted the Pride of Place judges last year, LYFS were well prepared and excelled in showing the pride and confidence they have for their hub in Glenwood in Letterkenny. After hearing about the long list of services and programmes offered by LYFS, the judges had an opportunity to meet the people from the community and chat about the difference LYFS has made to them and their community.
The judges then left Letterkenny for the beautiful village of Mhachaire Rabhartaigh in the Donegal Gaeltacht where they met those involved in Club Óige Chríost Rí. The judges were treated to the award winning Grease Musical “as gaeilge” show followed by a tour of the Youth Cafe which was hosted by young people from the club. The young people were keen to share the story of their Youth Cafe and how it has become a special place for them to socialise in and to enjoy a variety of recreational activities.
It was then off for a visit to Comharchumann Forbartha Ghaoth Dobhair where the judges were welcomed with a warm reception by the committee followed by traditional Irish performances from the extremely talented young musicians and singers as well as sketches and recitals from the drama group. The judges also visited the new Irish language theatre, Amharclann Ghaoth Dobhair which is a state of the art facility that will act as a catalyst for the future regeneration of the cultural heritage of this Gaeltacht area. Comharchumann Forbartha Ghaoth Dobhair played a central role in the renovation and the recent re-opening of Amharclann Ghaoth Dobhair.
The judges returned to the county on July 7 and visited the Ray Community Group where they were warmly welcomed by 135 enthusiastic members. During their visit they got to see a sample of the activities available to the Ray community including an outdoor pre-school, activities for children including Irish dancing, basketball, drama, arts and crafts, sport for all ages and social dancing.
The judges where taken through some beautiful walks where locals shared the treasured memories and history of the area. They finished off the day with a well deserved cup of tea, home-made refreshments and music from the locals.
Tory Island was the final destination for the Pride of Place judges and they were welcomed on the Island by the manager of Comharchumann Oileán Thoraigh. There is an increasing young population on the island and the Comharchumann have been central to a range of new and innovative initiatives on the island in recent years, including, the provision of a new helipad facility which has resulted in an increased air passenger service, the recent opening of a crèche, setting up the islands first ever youth club and a range of social participation projects.
After dinner with the King “Patsy Dan” the judges were taken to the Gallery to view his art work and the art of other local artists. A tour of the island followed and the judges were treated to the wonderful sight of the beautiful painted buildings and pristine landscape on the island. Their visit to the Island concluded with a céilí dance in the club and a walk back to the hotel listening to the strong sound of the Corncrake.
Cathaoirleach Cllr Gerry McMonagle thanked all those involved in hosting the Pride of Place judges over the last few weeks for all their hard work and dedication.
“Donegal County Council is delighted to be associated with the Pride of Place competition. This competition is all about recognising the tremendous work done by volunteers throughout the country and I am sure the judges were left with no doubt about the strong sense of community pride and volunteerism in Donegal. I am immensely proud of the work done by all these groups.”
“This is a special year for Donegal with the national ceremony being hosted for the first time ever in Letterkenny in December and I would like to wish all the groups participating every success in this year’s competition.”