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Clare Groups Figure in FÁS Awards

Clare Champion, Friday, 6th July 2001

The Church Conservation Project at Sixmilebridge has won a FÁS Community Initiative Award for the Mid-West. The Clare Project was one of three regional winners announced on Monday by Síle de Valera, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands. At the same function, the Minister also announced a special merit award for Kilrush Amenity Trust.

The Community Initiative Awards Programme was established by FÁS to recognise and encourage community effort and local initiative throughout the country. The awards also highlight the role played by FÁS as a catalyst in the area of community development. Awards are made in three categories to projects deemed to have had an economic, social or environmental benefit in their communities.

The Sixmilebridge programme captured the award in the community services category while the Tipperary Lakeside Development Company Limited at Borrisokane took the prize in the arts, cultural and heritage section. The prize for community enterprise went to Dromcollogher Community Enterprise Limited, Limerick. In addition to Kilrush Amenity Trust, special merit awards were presented to the Irish Wheelchair Association in Roscrea and the Umbrella Project in Limerick's Southill.

Sixmilebridge won their award for the Church Conservation Project whereby £500,000 was invested in refurbishing the derelict Church of Ireland building into a state of the art public library. The Church of Ireland, an imposing stone building, was built in 1733 and was in a derelict state until the Church Conservation Committee, under the direction of Chairman David Deighan, was established in June 1995. With the innovative partnership arrangement involving community participation, the Clare Library Service and the FÁS Community Youth Training Project, the building has now been restored to a modern library for community use. The project also won an AIB Better Ireland Award last year.

Kilrush Amenity Trust received a special merit award for their project which involved the re-development of the Old Vandelleur Estate and Walled Garden in the town. The project involved the total renovation of the Walled Garden for use as a tourist attraction as well as the development of the old stables for use as a visitor centre, restaurant and conference facilities.

Representatives from the winning groups were presented with specially commissioned trophies. They will each go forward to represent the Mid-West Region in their respective categories in the National Community Awards. The Minister congratulated the winners for their initiative and extended her praise to all community groups in the region who entered the competition. Tribute was due, she said, to the many people who gave freely of their time, expertise and resources.

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