“The cert is in the post” is how Mountrath’s Kiln Lane committee were rewarded for taking Best Estate in Category A of Laois County Council’s annual housing awards.
This year the council cancelled their Environment and local Tidy Towns awards ceremony, which had included a segment awarding the best kept local authority estates.
At Kiln Lane, the award was their first ever, after thirty years of effort. Secretary Margaret Moore was delighted at the win, but disappointed at the lack of ceremony.
“I am a bit disappointed, we are at it here for years, the estate opened in 1978 and it is our first time to get anything,” she said.
She first found out they had taken top prize when she got a phone call from the council’s tenant liaison officer, Natasha Moriarty.
“I was so surprised, I didn’t believe her at first. Then she told me the certificate was in the post,” she said.
The large 91 house estate is a mix of council and privately owned houses. In recent years, Respond and Clúid houses, a busy community centre and a children’s play area were added to the estate’s facilities.
“The kids love it, we have a lot of activites going on in the community centre, such as the scouts and the youth club,” she said.
The residents get no money from the council for cutting the expansive grassed areas, which Margaret’s husband Stephen does for no charge.
“We do a collection once a year to cover petrol expenses. We got grants over the years and we bought a ride-on mower, he maintains that so well, painting it and keeping it spotless, it should be in the scrapheap by now,” she said.
She was also disappointed not to have the opportunity to publically recognise elderly resident Michael O’Connell.
“A lot of it is down to him and his hard work, we wouldn’t have the children’s park if not for him. I would like to thank everyone who participated in the upkeep,” Margaret said.
A spokesperson for Laois County Council said the cancellation of the awards ceremony was down to budget cutbacks.
“We still organised the local Tidy Towns competition but because of limited budgets we decided to try and support the groups as much as we could. Any finance we had was put back in to projects, rather than an awards ceremony. We will have to review it next year,” she said.
Ms Moriarty congratulated Kiln Lane and also Collier’s Court in Portlaoise who took first place in Category B, and Mountain View Portlaoise who received the Most Improved award, each receiving €150.
“In fairness, Kiln Lane are a fantastic residents association, and the others are doing fantastic work, it is a pity, but our awards ceremony was in conjunction with the Tidy Towns awards,” she said.