Around 60 people from the Durrow Development Forum were honoured at a civic reception in County Hall last week for their outstanding amount of volunteering and much work achieved in their thriving community over the past 20 years.
The award ceremony was held in Laois County Council in Portlaoise and hosted by Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council John King.
In his speech Cllr King said that the Durrow Development Forum is a community organisation set up in 1997 and that its mission is to enhance the social, economic, physical and environmental aspects of Durrow.
“There are 18 people on the committee who work close with Laois County Council and Laois Partnership. Over the last 20 years they have been instrumental in several major projects including Durrow Heritage Plan 2012-2015, Durrow Architectural Conservation Area Study 2010, Durrow Village Design Statement, Durrow Sustainable Communities Plan, Tae Lane Famine Memorial, Canon Carrigan Amenity Area and the Durrow Brick Amenity Area.
“They have worked closely with the council in the planning of phase one of the restoration and rejuvenation of the Square project. Phase two of the Square plan has been confirmed by the council and will involve the provision of limestone kerbing around the smaller green areas, removal of overhead cables defining of parking and paving of the paths.
“One of Durrow Development Forum’s best achievements to date is the Durrow Scarecrow Festival which has run for nine years and last year brought an estimated 28,000 people to the area. The nine day event has something for people of all ages with the scarecrows themselves being the main attraction. This festival gives local businesses the opportunity to promote their business and is a great economic benefit to the village.” he said.
All funds raised by the forum are re-invested back into the community and it has managed to provide funds to purchase the old Methodist Church and the previous Civil Defence Hall with a view to bringing both buildings back into community use.
Also in attendance were Deputy Brian Stanley and councillors Pauline Madigan, James Kelly, Brendan Phelan and Padraig Fleming each spoke and congratulated the forum on its massive successes over the years.
Cllr Fleming wondered where they get the ideas for the scarecrows from to which Cllr King quipped: “we will all be scarecrows in time to come.”
Chairperson Evelyn Clancy and Treasurer Mary Walsh accepted the award.
Ms Walsh has been an active member of the committee since day one.
Ms Clancy thanked Cllr John King, Laois County Council and Laois Partnership Company for the continued support adding that phase two of the rejuvenation of the Square plan is ready to go and awaiting funding. She also thanked the well over 100 volunteers who give up their time and land free of charge.
John Mulholland, Chief executive of Laois County Council, congratulated the people of Durrow for keeping a very low carbon footprint by organising a coach to attend the event.
“Lots of people have commented to me on a lovely picturesque village in County Laois on the main Dublin to Cork road. Durrow has all the attributes of the typical village green. The Scarecrow Festival now has national recognition; it is in the national calendar. We are really proud that you have achieved this through your own ideas.
"Hospitality is important for Durrow with so many high achievers investing in your area. They do this because they see the wonderful community they are investing in.” he said.
Refreshments were provided in the canteen after the award ceremony.