THE town of Abbeyleix, winner of the Pride of Place awards this year, won a silver award at the International Liveable Communities (Livcom) awards last week.
Abbeyleix, along with entries from Meath, and Wicklow were selected by the Co-Operation Ireland’s Pride of Place committee to represent Ireland at international level.
Abbeyleix was entered into the Whole City Awards, in Category A (population up to 20,000). There were 11 other towns from across the world in this category, with Abbeyleix coming in second place, winning a silver award.
The competition and awards ceremony took place in Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates with a delegation travelling out for the events. The Laois entry was judged on Friday November 23 with a questions and answers session taking place after the Laois presentation. Representing Laois County Council at the awards was Leas Caithaoirleach Cllr John Moran.
For the awards, a 35 minute presentation was made by Councillor John Joe Fennelly, Gary O’Keefe (Abbeyleix ABC) and Dominic Reddin, tourism officer with Laois County Council.
Speaking to the Leinster Express afterwards, Gary O’ Keefe said that the award meant an awful lot for the town and give a “great insight into what more can be done”. He said that although the criteria was stiff for the competition, the delegation had previously completed a number of plans for Abbeyleix and were prepared.
“We are very excited about what this means for the town. There are over 40 groups in Abbeyleix and every one of them is part of the fabric of the town. The trip was a lot of hard work, you have to prepare for the presentations and there was also a Q&A afterwards with the judges, whose questioning was severe at times”.
Abbeyleix was examined for the competition by esteemed judges from Iraq, the UK, and Estonia. The presentation given to the judges included talks on the community; looking at enhancement of the natural and built heritage; arts, culture and heritage; environmental best practices; community participation and empowerment; healthy lifestyle and strategic planning.
The Livcom Awards were launched in 1997 and are endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme, (UNEP). It is the world’s only awards competition focussing on international best practice regarding the management and sustainability of the local environment under a number of headings. The objective of LivCom is to develop and share international best practice, with the further objective of improving the quality of life of individual citizens through the creation of ‘liveable communities.
Collectively those representing Abbeyleix said: “We are delighted and proud that Abbeyleix has been given the honour of representing Ireland at international level”.