Laois Comunity Sport & Leisure Awards

In this category we recognise community and voluntary groups who promote the benefits of sport and physical activity for the well being of their community, whether it be for health and fitness, working with groups such as younger children or older adults, or improving community spirit.

In this category we recognise community and voluntary groups who promote the benefits of sport and physical activity for the well being of their community, whether it be for health and fitness, working with groups such as younger children or older adults, or improving community spirit.

In this category we recognise community and voluntary groups who promote the benefits of sport and physical activity for the well being of their community, whether it be for health and fitness, working with groups such as younger children or older adults, or improving community spirit.

St. Anne’s AFC (Category Winner)

St Anne’s AFC was founded in 1989 and encourages children and adults to participate in active exercise by playing soccer at all levels. Their objective is to give access to all ages and gender of all abilities and levels to play ball at competitive and non-competitive levels around Ballylinan and surrounding areas. The local community rallied and fundraised to build a clubhouse which was built by local volunteers.

Oughaval Athletic Club (Runner Up)

The development of Athletics in the Stradbally area is the main ethos of this group. Training takes place 3 times weekly and annual events are also organised such as Primary Schools Cross Country events and the well known Annual Fun Run in Vicarstown called ’Beat the Barge’ which has a very high profile. The Club encourages the local community of all ages to participate in active exercise in an outdoor setting.

Clonaslee Community Development Association

The aim of this group is to provide as many services to their local community and wider area as well as sports and leisure activities for all ages. They provide a vast amount of activities for the local community including a wide range of sports activities. An Astro Turf pitch is available and ensures that every activity is on the doorstep of this local community.

Mountrath Playground / Amenity Park Committee

This Committee has worked tirelessly within their local area to ensure a safe play for children in their community in a natural environment. They also ensured that local people of all ages could enjoy the natural outdoors. This well loved amenity is not only used by the local community but also those who may be passing through Mountrath en route, such as school tour groups. Amenities such as this playground rely on the voluntary commitment of local people to maintain and improve them and this is certainly the case in Mountrath.

Abbeyleix Tennis Club

Founded in 1909, Abbeyleix Tennis Club has produced generations of Tennis players. The club caters for all ages with numerous competitions and club days held throughout the year. The club encourages the local and wider community to partake in an active lifestyle and ensures local people of all ages can enjoy this outdoors activity.

Diva’s Womens Club

Seeing a need for something for women to do in their local area, the Rathdowney Diva’s came together and have since brought women of all ages together to enjoy activities such as dance, fitness and fun. The Club even achieved a production of dance that was performed at the Dunamaise Theatre as a group last year. The Club has succeeded in providing activities and services to women in Rathdowney and to provide a social outlet for women there.

T&S United Juvenile Soccer Club

The ethos of this Club is to provide a fitness programme for children. It’s all about keeping active and this Club does that in abundance. The Club also holds Summer Camps for kids locally. The Club encourages children to partake in an active lifestyle and appeals to a local community.

Laois Cricket Club

The aim of Laois Cricket Club is the playing and promotion of cricket for all ages and nationalities. Set up 26 years ago, the club has grown to be extremely successful and vibrant and has won the Leinster 2012 Division 4 league. Laois Cricket Club embraces players from all over the County and has an excellent National reputation.

Luggacurran Development

This committee has worked tirelessly within their local area to within their local area to turn Luggacurran National School into a Community Hall to promote Community activities and to maintain the hall and provide a venue for various functions for the locals to enjoy. The Community Hall is used by the local Community for music, dance, meetings, fundraisers, concerts and much more. It has added greatly to the quality and experience of those living in the Luggacurran area. An Annual 10k run took place in 1992 as a key fundraiser for the Community Hall and has celebrated its 21st year this year and has become a tremendous success.

Portlaoise Boxing Club

The main objective of Portlaoise Boxing Club is to promote and foster amateur boxing and to encourage a healthy lifestyle and physical culture in County Laois and the wider community. Portlaoise Boxing Club has provided and facilitated a tremendous service to their members and other clubs. The Club has done immeasurable work among the Community, particularly among the disadvantaged. The Club has a strong culture of social integration, especially with groups from ethnic minorities and other nationalities. Encouraging greater interaction with these groups has been very successful in the Club. The long term goal of Portlaoise Boxing Club is to be a centre of excellence boxing Academy for Portlaoise

Woodenbridge Paddlers Association

Developing and promoting canoeing in South Laois is the key objective of this Association. The importance of introduction of adults and young people to the water and to provide them with knowledge and safety of the rivers cannot be overemphasised. The Woodenbridge Paddlers appeals to young and old who wish to use the River Erkina as an amenity and enjoy leisure and relaxation.

Rathdowney Playground Group

Increased participation in active exercise and leisure by all age groups in the local community and surrounding areas, particularly in outdoor setting has always been an aim of this group. The Playground caters for all children including children with special needs. The Group has worked tirelessly within their local area to ensure a safe play for children in a natural environment and voluntary commitment of local people in Rathdowney has been fantastic.

Arts & Culture

This category, recognises the contribution of community and voluntary groups to the continuing development of the Arts, Culture, Music and Irish Language in the county through collective creative activities.

Abbeyfest (Category (Winner)

The creation of an event which not only celebrates arts in the community, but puts that community on the map as a tourist attraction, takes year round hard work and commitment by those involved, and is celebrated over 3 days in June, when Abbeyleix comes alive, showcasing to the world the work of local and national musicians, artists, food producers and craftspeople. From children’s theatre to street entertainment, visual arts and photo exhibitions and workshops, to music performances and food events, this festival is organised entirely by volunteers, together with the ever growing support of the local and business community.

Spink Comhaltas Runner Up)

Together since 1979, this group gives to the community through their many performances at local and national events, while also working to preserve Irish music in our lives, including traditional Irish singing and the playing of the Harp and Uileann Pipes. Future plans include the expansion of their youth membership in their efforts to ensure a legacy of Comhaltas and traditional Irish music in Laois and beyond.

Maureen Culleton Dance Group

Nominated for their creative awareness of dance and the enjoyment of dance for young and old alike, this group contributes to the preservation and promotion of our music and dance culture, while also promoting good health and well being through physical activity. The involvement of the group in many events and fundraising efforts both locally and internationally, goes toward providing joy, positivity and camaraderie as well as caring for our heritage.

Open Door Theatre Group

As the name “Open Door” suggests, this Group means to welcome all people of any age and gender to their craft and every year, they attract new members to further blend their mix. Open Door Theatre Group has kept the idea of community drama alive in Laois in recent years, touring within and outside the county with their high class productions of both world famous and home-grown drama, such as “Philadelphia Here I come” and O’Casey’s “ Juno & the Paycock” catering for all tastes from comedy and farce to tragedy and drama.

Clodiagh Players

Hailing from Clonaslee, this group has been together since 2009, forming originally to stage a mime production of a South American poem called “Severino”. Since then the local community has been entertained with pantomime and variety shows. Nurturing talent from within, they aspire to bring productions outside the local area, even enter All Ireland competitions and events, and we wish them the best of luck with their future endeavours!

Ballylinan Panto Group

When panto time rolls around in Ballylinan, everyone in the local community gets involved in some way to stage the show, by going onstage, backstage, making the tea or being part of the audience. All proceeds made by this group from their performances are donated to a different charity each year. Their contribution to the local area lifts the community’s spirits with music, comedy and teamwork!

Ballyroan Half Set Dancers

In their promotion of Irish Dance as part of our culture and heritage, this group have performed all of the world and have brought honour to our county, competing and winning in All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil events over the past 34 years. Their performances at fundraising events both support many causes and promote the importance of keeping Irish culture and heritage utmost in our minds.

Heritage & Environment

This category recognises those community and voluntary groups that take pride in their local environment, enhancing their local areas, including the conservation, protection and promotion of the natural and built heritage of the county.

Abbeyleix Tidy Towns (Winner)

The overall objective for Abbeyleix Tidy Town Committee is to make Abbeyleix a great place to live, work and enjoy. Abbeyleix Tidy Towns is committed to the principles of sustainable development and places particular emphasis on protecting and enhancing the heritage and environment in the community. The Committee encourage local people of all ages to come out and support their goals and have recently developed a strategic plan for the next 3-5 years, including plans for sustainable solutions to planting and the environment of the town, which bodes well for their future

South Laois Tourism (Runner up)

While the initial objective this group when established was to set up the first Cycle Trail in Laois, this quickly evolved into the promotion and development of tourism in this area of the county. Their idea was that by bringing more tourists into the locality, everyone’s a winner, local business, local services and the boosting of local employment. The recent launch of the South Laois Tourism website can hope to attract many cyclists, walkers, and holidaymakers this area and Laois in general, in the coming months and years. With community events, walks and fun cycle events, the efforts of this group have made local people more aware of the treasures of the beautiful countryside available to them right on their doorstep.

Slieve Bloom Association

For four decades, the Slieve Bloom Association have worked to improve and maintain the Slieve Blooms as a heritage and tourist amenity area which attracts thousands of visitors. The Association encourages the local community to maintain the Slieve Blooms and the high standard of the Amenity areas is a testament to this.

Ballacolla Tidy Towns

Operating for the longest time in Ballacolla, this group encourages the entire community to come out and enhance their local area and therefore the quality of life of its inhabitants and visitors to the village. Their aim is to provide colour in the village all year round, with its imaginative and constant planting and maintenance of the local area, fostering a great community spirit through its work and the pride of local people of their beautiful village. They take part in county and national competitions every year, working hard to maintain that pride and spirit, which is evident in the lack of litter and the colourful planting.

Timahoe Tidy Towns

The Timahoe Tidy Towns Committee work tirelessly to maintain and promote the built and natural environment and to provide colour in the village all year. The group encourages the entire Community to come out and enhance their local area and therefore the quality of life of the people who live in Timahoe. The redevelopment of the Village Green and introduction of flowerbeds has been a major achievement for the group. This group is proof of what can be achieved from local people working together with a common purpose. Well Done!

Children & Young People

In this category, we recognise community and voluntary groups for their work and support to Children & Young People, looking at their capacity to contribute to the development of children and young people and to improve the services that are available to them.

Graiguecullen/Killeshin Parish Youth Ministry Group (Winner)

In addition to promoting the core values of Youth Ministry, this group is nominated for their contribution to the local community and their positive influence on young people. This group has had an impact on all levels through their charity work, and fundraising for local and international causes, while also being involved in the practical, as well as the spiritual work of the parish and local community, encouraging young people to get out, volunteer and take an active part, thus developing themselves and benefiting the causes and areas they work in. From bag packing to cake sales, South African Township Trust to working with disabled children in Calcutta, it is clear that the future generation of Graiguecullen and our county is positive and in good hands.

Abbeyleix Junior Hockey Club (Runner Up)

This club gives the girls the power on the sports field and through them, girls aged 6 to 16 years are given a platform to participate in sports and the club currently has 80 members. A shining example of volunteer work, the teams are coached by the trained parents of the children, teenagers are encouraged to assist with training sessions of the younger teams and the families are instrumental in providing high quality baking on blitz days. While the Junior Hockey Club members are under 17 years, those now older and having passed through the club are still encouraged to take part in training, to continue their involvement with the club from a coaching perspective. Their successes include under-14 & under-16 high placing in the West Leinster Place and League. And we are guaranteed that Abbeyleix will see a trophy or two in the near future!

4th Laois Scouts Portarlington

This group has been developing all facets of young people lives since 1991 and provides an outlet for children from the local community to develop and learn through a range of fun and educational activities run practically all year round. The time and commitment put into the group by the Leaders is shown in the clear benefits of the activities the young people take part in, such as camps and courses like first aid and fire safety, and in the ways in which they participate in their local community. Much time and effort goes into showing children the positive side to volunteering and the merits of taking responsibility for the benefit of the community. Taking part in such a group also teaches young people the skills of working together, which is invaluable for their own personal development and their future lives.

Youth Work Ireland Laois

Youth Work Ireland Laois, in partnership with young people in Laois, promotes, develops and delivers quality responsive youth services in Co. Laois. They provide and support a range of initiatives to meet the development needs of young people throughout youth clubs, schools and community settings. They support youth participation in influencing decisions which affects their lives and have worked hard to create safe spaces for young people to meet socially, including the new Youth Café in Portlaoise. Among their many achievements - supports and training to numerous youth clubs throughout the county, art, music and photography workshops and training for youth leaders across Laois. YWI was also instrumental in opening the first Youth Café in Portlaoise.

Laois Martial Arts Academy

Since its foundation in 2007, Laois Martial Arts Academy has been encouraging children and adults to take part in Kickboxing, developing fitness levels as well as confidence, while providing a sense of self discipline. The club has 50 members ranging from 4 years old to 45 years, four of whom are currently the youngest black belt holders in Ireland. The club has supported many young Laois athletes competitively, and currently boasts an All Ireland Champion, two World Champions and a World bronze medal holder. Such achievements are an example to all children and young people that dedication and focus can bring positive changes to one’s life.

Knockmay Youth Group

Since 2008, the Knockmay Youth Group has worked very hard to improve their community by getting young people involved in many clean ups and various horticulture projects in the local area, such as the construction of wooden flower pots, the creation of shrubberies, etc. They also were instrumental in the wall painting in the estate and in regular litter picking. In 2012, the group were assisted in taking part in the St Patrick’s Day Parade as well as fundraising activities which enabled them to fund their own projects. Such an approach is a wonderful way to ensure continued volunteerism and community involvement for the youths involved as they reach adulthood.

Mountmellick Youth Development Centre

Established in 1997, MYDC provides homework assistance and recreational activities on a daily basis to nearly 40 children identified as needing supports with homework completion. Many of these children are at risk of early school leaving and with the assistant of 20 volunteers, each child is not only provided with homework supports but also meets role models who make positive impacts on their lives. The benefits of their work are numerous, the children’s school attainment increases, their confidence and sense of aspiration is renewed and their social skills developed. In 2011, the volunteers took part in training to assist children with dyslexia and dyspraxia in order to cater for all children regardless of their needs. They also assist with fundraising activities in order to ensure the children have access to the latest materials.

Timahoe Foroige Club

Since 2006, this club has provided a safe environment for young people in the surrounding community to meet locally and enjoy various recreational and sporting activities. The Club trains youths from 12 to 18 years to become leaders and get involved in community life. The club has been heavily involved in fundraising for local causes such as the playground, national school and the local Festival. Through its efforts, the club established a youth café in the local community hall which is actively and regularly used. The young people take an active part in the yearly children’s Christmas Party, the St Patrick’s Day Parade and are currently working on setting up visits to the elderly in the locality as well as events forming parts of the National Gathering Event.

Port Project

The project was established in 2008 as a Garda Youth Diversion Project in Portarlington and aims to provide activities to facilitate the personal development and encourage the civic responsibility of young people aged 12 to 18 years. The project works on a strength based approach, emphasising the accomplishments of the young people taking part. The work of the project focuses on young people which have been referred by the Gardaí, schools, parents or other services and aims to build the bridge between the young people and the local community. The range of activities provided is both educational and recreational, and include amongst many, the production of a DVD, healthy eating, sexual health and healthy mind projects.