Abbeyleix top in pride of place

THE town of Abbeyleix has taken the top prize at this year’s Pride of Place awards.

THE town of Abbeyleix has taken the top prize at this year’s Pride of Place awards.

The town was announced as the winner at a ceremony which took place in Wexford at the weekend, and comes after many months of work from the community of Abbeyleix. The town took the award in the category for places with populations over 2,000.

More than 30 organisations in the town took part in the judging day which took place last June, showcasing the huge variety of community and voluntary work which is ongoing in the area. Speaking about the win, committee member Mary White was thrilled with the result.

“On the judging day the townspeople were unbelievable, they all came out to meet the judges,” she said.

All the town’s community groups were involved and showed their strength and vibrancy. Another element which was evident on the day was the involvement of old and young people with organisations in the town.

“We were so thrilled with the win, it was a great buzz for the county. There was great support from the County Council throughout and the judges were blown away on the day. The awards night was a great opportunity to see what ideas other places had, and we also celebrated the honour brought to the town and the county,” she said.

Mary was adamant that the award would never have happened without the people.

“It would never have happened without the community giving their time. We harnassed the community spirit and it was a great bonding exercise for everyone,” she said.

Cllr John Joe Fennelly was also delighted with the win.

“It was a fantastic achievement, but there was a huge amount of work put in over the few months before judging day. There was such a good feeling around that day, people are overjoyed by the win,” he said.

He thanked all the organisations and the committee involved for “the huge effort” they put in, as well as Laois County Council staff Georgina Ireland and Catherine Casey.

Portlaoise Leisure Centre were also nominated at this year’s awards ceremony in the health initiative category. Manager Mark Roberts said of the nomination: “We’re very proud to be part of it, but unfortunately we weren’t awarded anything. It was great to be nominated and our legacy in entering should stand us in great stead.” Durrow, Camross and Stradbally are previous winners in the Pride of Place competiton.