Throughout 2019, I was delighted to feature interesting and inspiring stories from communities across Waterford city and county in this column. Many remarkable individuals and groups are contributing to their local area in a variety of ways. Here’s a brief recap of some of those who I have been fortunate enough to feature this year…looking forward to meeting and interviewing many more community champions in 2020!
Tramore Tidy Towns
In recent years, Tramore has made significant strides in the Tidy Towns competition and achieved a bronze medal again this year when the results were announced in September.
Many ambitious projects have been undertaken and completed by Tramore Tidy Towns, including on the Doneraile and at the Steps near the entrance to Splashworld.
Epitomising pride of place and volunteerism, a beach clean-up takes place every Sunday at 10am without fail.This year, murals created by artist Lisa Murphy proved a hugely popular addition to The Prom.
Photos of the impressive artwork were widely shared online, and subsequently viewed by people worldwide.The creation of the murals was part of a wider ambition to brighten up Tramore through adding dashes of colour at various locations.Although they are separate groups, both Tramore Tidy Towns and the Tramore Eco Group have been working closely together for the overall betterment of Tramore.Members of the Eco Group organised a successful Banksy Project this year which added further colour to Tramore.Chairperson of Tramore Tidy Towns Anne Cheasty has a huge passion for Tramore and the Tidy Towns movement. Anne, who is Manager of Quish’s SuperValu, has featured in the prominent TV advert for the SuperValu Tidy Towns competition in which Tramore was chosen as an example of a location where the Tidy Towns and SuperValu are having a positive impact.
She describes the Tidy Towns competition as a “perfect fit” for SuperValu’s ethos as the supermarket regards itself as being at the heart of each community it serves.
Anne was the recipient of the Billy McCarthy Award at the Waterford PPN Community & Voluntary Awards in November. The award recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to their community.
Rural Ireland and the opportunities presented by social enterprise were discussed at a special event held in Dunhill in May. ‘Revitalising Rural Ireland: Empowering Communities through Social Enterprise’ was the title of the EU Citizens’ Dialogue event which took place in Dunhill Ecopark on Monday evening 13th May.Dunhill was a very appropriate location in which to stage such an event as the local community has set the bar for what can be achieved by a rural community.
In fact, one of the speakers at the event hailed Dunhill as the “best example” of social enterprise in Ireland.Many visitors, including politicians, senior civil servants and members of different community groups, have come to Dunhill in recent years to discuss issues relating to job creation, and in particular, how to encourage an enterprising spirit within communities.
In March, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Rural and Community Development attended a working lunch and discussion with local government and business representatives in Dunhill.
The event provided members of the enterprising and innovative Dunhill community with an opportunity to showcase all that has been achieved in their local area.
A wonderful example of their remarkable achievements is the success of the Anne Valley Walk.
Phase 1 opened in 2013 and proved a huge success with very impressive footfall figures. Phase 2 from Dunhill Castle to Annestown recently opened and has already proved enormously successful also.
Rathgormack North Waterford Community Development (RNWCDL) committee
A top-class amenity area was officially opened at the foothills of the Comeragh Mountains in rural County Waterford this summer. The new Comeragh Amenity Area in Rathgormack includes an enclosed floodlit all-weather 4G astro turf games area approximately 70m long by 40m wide which will cater for a wide variety of sports and activities, a floodlit walking track and a fully landscaped recreational and outdoor entertainment area.
It was officially opened on a sunny July evening, coinciding with the Comeraghs Wild Festival.
Members of the Rathgormack North Waterford Community Development Group embarked on an ambitious journey back in October 2013 when they set out their plans to develop a Multi-Use Games and Community Amenity Area on a site adjacent to the hugely popular Hiking Centre.For many years, the Rathgormack Hiking & Hostel Centre has been a popular venue for scouting groups, hiking enthusiasts etc. and has been a base for a wide range of community groups and activities for children and adults of all ages.
Numerous fundraisers were staged to help make the community’s latest dream become a reality, including the hugely successful novelty Mayoral election in 2017 in which three candidates raised a total of €78,000. The project has also received support through Waterford Leader Partnership and, earlier this year, students from Kildaton College assisted with the completion of the amenity as part of their Personal Effectiveness module in the Level 5 Certificate in Agriculture course.
With convenient access to the mountains, Rathgormack has now secured it’s claim as a gateway to the Comeraghs and to exploring surrounding natural features such as Crotty’s Lake, Coumshingaun, the Mahon Falls, and the Nire Valley.
At the Waterford PPN Community & Voluntary Awards held in November, Dunhill Tourism Walking Trail Ltd. were the worthy recipients of the Mayors Award 2019 and will now go on to represent Waterford at the 2020 IPB Pride of Place Awards.