Laois showcased its community champions superbly on Monday 8th July when Bloom HQ Mountrath greeted the judges in the IPB All Island Pride of Place Competition 2019.
There was no mistaking the pride of local people when they displayed for the judges, all that they have and continue to do to make their local community a better place to live, work and visit.
Bloom HQ Mountrath entered the Creative Place Initiative category.
The community of Mountrath demonstrated for the judges, Tom Coughlan and Blaise Treacy, how Mountrath Community Forum have transformed the Old Convent in Mountrath into a vibrant community and economic hub.
The judges arrived to a very warm welcome by the community of Mountrath. The presentation to the judges took place in the beautiful chapel in the Convent.
From there the judges visited the Cottage Market on the grounds of the Convent and then the newly opened Bloom HQ where they got to see The Good Bean Coffee Roastery at work and the stunning workspaces.
The judges were then treated to a sample of the activities/ clubs and groups that now have their home at Bloom HQ.
Among them were the Bikers Shed, the Gym, the School of Music, Kids Activity Camp, The Camera Club, Foroige, the Scouts and Arthritis Ireland where the judges even participated in using fit sticks!
Bloom HQ displayed how much they had achieved since their inception and their plans for the future. Both young and old were involved in the afternoon’s activities and great fun was had by all.
The Community finally wowed the judges with wonderful refreshments in the chapel. The judges were accompanied during the day by Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Willie Aird and local elected members and public representatives, all of whom spoke of the enormous benefits to the county of the work and co-operation that Pride of Place brings.
Mr. Donal Brennan, Director of Services, Laois County Council praised Bloom HQ for their excellent work and pride that they have taken in transforming the Old Convent into a vibrant community and work space.
He acknowledged the assistance of all the local and national agencies in the process of the social, cultural and economic development of our county.
He particularly referred to the strides that have been made by Mountrath Community Forum in the past number of years to successfully make improvements and develop the old convent site. He emphasised the importance of communities and community spirit.
Pride of Place, now in its 17th year, is sponsored by Irish Public Bodies Insurances Ltd and hosted by Co-operation Ireland under its Local Authority Programme, comprising officials from authorities in both parts of Ireland.
The aim of the competition is to recognise initiatives taken by local communities to create pride in their area and to celebrate the vital contribution that community groups make to society.
The competition focuses on people coming together to shape, enhance and enjoy all that is good about their area.
Pride of Place judges Tom Coughlan and Blaise Treacy congratulated the entry representing Laois in this year’s competition, stating how heartening it is to see local communities making such efforts to sustain themselves and look after each other.
They stated that to be chosen by the local authority to represent Laois on the national stage meant they are winners in their own right.
Cllr. Willie Aird stated how proud he was to be associated with such positive measures being taken by this group.
He thanked all involved in the efforts to prepare and in the ongoing development locally and wished them the very best of luck in the competition.
The results of the All-Island competition, which attracts entries from north and south of the border, will be announced by Co-operation Ireland at a special gala event in Kilkenny in November.
Michael Scully photographed the day.