THERE was widespread jubilation in Freemount last Saturday night when it emerged that the village had achieved second place in the national Pride of Place Competition in the category catering for areas with a population of less than 200.
The competition recognises and celebrates the vital contributions which community groups make to society. The focus is on people coming together to shape, change and enjoy all that is good in their local area.
It differs somewhat from other similar projects in that judges specifically recognise the involvement of the local community in all aspects of rural and urban regeneration including promoting social cohesion, involvement in planning, the promotion of heritage, and environmental awareness.
Locals gathered for a celebration at the heritage centre to pay tribute to all the participating groups in the area who worked tirelessly to create and promote pride in their village.
Triona Murphy, community development team leader with IRD Duhallow, congratulated all involved and commended the wonderful volunteerism that is alive and well in Freemount. "IRD Duhallow is delighted to be able to support communities like Freemount who have been awarded over €304,000 worth of LEADER grant aid in the current programme which the community has been able to successfully match through both financial contributions and voluntary labour," she said.
Triona concluded by thanking Fiona Hayes and Louis Duffy from Cork County Council for nominating Freemount for the award.
Deirdre Green, assistant treasurer of Freemount Development Association, speaking to The Corkman, said that the win certainly brought a renewed sense of spirit to the community. "We were honoured to get the award as it was our first year entering, everyone in Freemount was delighted with the win, we've put in a huge amount of work during the last few months", she said.
Deirdre explained that while extensive work went into cleaning, tidying, and painting the village, it's really a community spirit award as opposed to a tidy towns award. "The judges were impressed by the fact that we cater for all different sectors of society like the elderly and our youth," said Deirdre. "We have up to 17 clubs and organisations in the parish and a lot of ongoing activities".
She added that the judges were ' blown away' by the recently formed Kangaroo Club which supports families with members who have emigrated to Australia.
Deirdre added that the local community has been extremely grateful for funding received over the past six years from sources such as IRD Duhallow, Cork County Council, Clar, and Lotto which has been used for upgrading the community centre, extending the heritage centre, development of the monument, and a new walkway around the GAA complex. She paid tribute to everybody who worked so hard in the run up to the competition and to Fás who played a significant role in the preparations.