'We're the pride of Kerry!'

Stephen Fernane

It's been a busy time for Pride of Place contestants as both the Blackwater Women's Group and the Maharees Conservation Association hosted the national competition's judges, who arrived in the Kingdom last week to assess each group ahead of the final adjudication in November.

And what a show both communities put on for the judges, doing Kerry very proud already in showcasing the best their people and places have to offer. Mary O'Neill of Blackwater Woman's Group said they were pleased with their presentation to the judges, which included a Powerpoint introduction and talk by Mairead Robinson.

The judges were then introduced to the local GAA Club, taken on a visit to the Blackwater River where the rare Pearl Mussel is found, and shown a film of life in the area, a play, and a sketch.

"The judges were very nice and we're delighted with how it went. We had a huge turnout on the day with musicians, and this added to a great atmosphere.  "We took great pride in it and I think that showed," Mary said.   Martha Farrell of the Maharees Conservation Association said their presentation was added to by the fine weather which made the Maharees look even more beautiful.

The judges were shown the intricate work involved in planting marram grass, and given an overview of the various intervention works carried out by the association to protect the low-lying coastal zone from erosion.  The judges also got to sample the versatile aspects of everyday life in the Maharees.

"We were well supported on the day by a lot of the community groups that we work with. The judges saw first-hand the work we do. I think they were impressed by what we had to show, and also the turn out from the local community," Martha said. The third contestant, Killorglin K-FEST, was assessed in May, as reported on by The Kerryman.

The Pride of Place competition is all about people coming together to showcase all that is good about their area or community project.  Kerry County Council nominates communities or groups in recognition of the work being done to create viable, vibrant and visible communities. Founded in 2002, the Blackwater Women's Group has really taken off over the years.

The group's success lies in its open and inclusive nature, diverse membership, varied skill base and the ongoing interest and energy of the community. Members are well attuned to responding to the needs of all age groups in their catchment area. The Maharees Conservation Association was meanwhile founded in 2016 and is a coastal community group which engages a wide-ranging network of volunteers.  It works collaboratively in protecting the coastline and natural heritage of the Maharees, raising awareness of the cultural and ecological importance of the area and ensuring the viability of the Maharees community