DEVELOPING FACILTIES Former Minister, Michael Ring, TD, cutting the tape at the opening of the Children’s Playground in Belcarra, one of the many projects in the village praised by judges in the Pride of Place awards, where Belcarra was announced as a national winner last weekend. Pic: Ken Wright
Ballina also come out on top at national awards
THE Pride of Place Award received by the village of Belcarra at last Saturday evening’s awards was the cumulation of over 20 years of hard-working and dedication to their community.
That is according to Mary Fitzgerald, chairperson of the Belcarra Community Group, who told The Mayo News they were extremely proud of the award.
RTÉ’s Marty Morrissey hosted the virtual event last Saturday evening and in announcing Belcarra as a winner, noted that ‘community activity is in the DNA of the people’.
“We’re very proud,” Mary said. “There’s a lot of good people in the community and a lot of very hard working people too. We won a prize back in 2016 but this is really the icing on the cake for us. It’s a great acknowledgment and a great way of saying thank you to the community of Belcarra for their hard work.
“Something like this does not happen overnight. A few people lead the way but you need the meitheal behind you to roll up their sleeves and get to work on it.”
Mary added that the origins of the award can date back to the 1960s when the Tidy Towns committee was first established in the small village located around 8km outside Castlebar.
Over the years they’ve carried out works on the Community Centre and the Sports Centre which helped ‘develop services to match the needs of the community’. They also developed services and amenities over a 20 year period that included a playground and cycling track, social housing, a private water scheme and a beautiful amenity loop river-walk that takes in the eviction cottage of the late 1880s, which is a listed museum.
All those resources and projects were praised by the Pride of Place awards and Mary was fulsome in her praise for the help and guidance given to them by Mayo County Council, the local councillors and former Minister, Michael Ring, TD.
Local councillor Ger Deere praised the work by the community of Belcarra.
“Congratulations to all in Belcarra on winning the Pride of Place award,” he told The Mayo News. “Belcarra is a village that epitomises all that is good in community spirit and has done continually over the years.
“I have very fond memories of the local Foróige club and the late Kathleen Heaney and all their good work. The Tidy Towns group in Belcarra have been so supportive with help and advice to Castlebar Tidy Towns over the years and I’m delighted to see them so honoured.”
The Ballina Lions Club also received an award for their community work, with their citation reading: “The town in question is very well served by this extremely active and energetic group. They have worked hard continuously adapting to changing needs, demonstrating energy and enthusiasm and, crucially, have developed trust with the community. They seek at all times to contribute significantly to the betterment of that community.”
Mayo County Council extended heartfelt congratulations to the people of Belcarra and Ballina.
Interim Chief Executive, Peter Duggan and Cathaoirleach Cllr Richard Finn said in a joint statement: “They are shining examples of the tireless volunteer work that community groups across this county are involved in to make Mayo a more inclusive, caring, and equal place to live.”
Two other Mayo nominees, Westport Men’s Shed and Ballyhaunis ‘Celebrate Diversity’ were among 82 groups in total to have been nominated this year. This is the 18th anniversary of the highly anticipated awards, which were to be hosted in 2020 by Kerry County Council but instead took place online.