Pride of Places 2021 Competition

Blackrock and “The House” in Cox’s Demesne to represent Louth in the “Pride of Place” All-Ireland Competition

11th June 2021: Louth has nominated two entries to represent the county in this year’s Pride of Place competition. Blackrock has been entered into the “Island and Coastal Communities” category, while “The House” which hosts the Cox’s Demesne Youth and Community Group are in the “Community Wellbeing” category.

Louth has been a consistent presence in the competition and has had a significant level of success in recent years. The Gary Kelly Cancer Support Centre won the Community Wellbeing Initiative category in 2018 and the Maria Goretti Foundation was the winner of the Community Reaching Out category in 2017. Carlingford were runners up in the Tourism Initiative category in 2019, while Omeath were runners up in the “Islands and Coastal Communities” category of the 2020 competition.

Blackrock is a growing, vibrant coastal village which is nestled on the shoreline of Dundalk Bay and provides beautiful views from the promenade for the many tourists and day trippers alike. It has a long association with the sea and was the location of Ireland’s first 50 metre outdoor swimming pool which was established in 1962 and remained open until the 1980’s.

Community spirit is very much alive in Blackrock which is the current holder of the title of “Ireland’s Tidiest Small Town” in the National Tidy Towns competition. It is also a Gold Medal winner and is the Tidiest Town in the Midlands and East Region. The Tidy Towns groups are the most visible example of the huge level of volunteerism which exits in Blackrock. Inclusion is also at the heart of the many local organisations which range from sporting, heritage, arts and environment, many of which are based at the Community Centre which has been in existence for over thirty years.

The Cox’s Demesne Youth and Community Group, has been in existence since 1991 when two derelict council houses were renovated by the community, spearheaded by a local man, helped by a team of 18-20 year olds on a “Fás” scheme. People within the community offered their skills free of charge e.g. carpenter, bricklayer. The project became known locally as “The House” and the community took “pride” in its establishment and development.

The original aim was to provide a safe, welcoming place where young people could grow, develop and always feel at home, helping them find strengths, overcome difficulties and build better futures.  This has been maintained to the present day.

It has a long legacy of community giving and it brings a cohesiveness and collaborative approach through interagency work, facilitation, investment and strategy, to the community it serves. “Well-being” is a focus that permeates through all of its activities and programmes.

Pride of Place is an All Ireland competition and features communities from every city/town and county and is now the country’s most prestigious community event. “The competition is about showing respect and inclusion for every sector in our communities, young, old, rich or poor and creating communities to which the people are proud to say they belong”, according to Tom Dowling, former Meath County Manager and Chairman of the Pride of Place initiative. 

The competition which endeavours to showcase community spirit across the island of Ireland, is organised by Co-operation Ireland, in conjunction with IPB Insurance. Speaking about the competition, Joan Martin, Chief Executive of Louth County Council said “We are delighted that Blackrock and ‘The House’ in Cox’s Demesne are representing Louth in this year’s Pride of Place Competition.  It is a wonderful competition which showcases all that is best and innovative in communities throughout the island of Ireland.  Louth County Council has worked closely with many of the organisations in Blackrock for many years and we appreciate their level of volunteerism which has helped to make Blackrock a great place in which to live, visit and work.”

Speaking about ‘The Cox’s Demesne Youth & Community Project’, Ms. Martin believes that “over the last 30 Years, ‘The House’, has blossomed as a result of being part of a close community within an urban local authority neighbourhood and become a shining example of how community development works best, where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems. We wish both entries the very best of luck”.

The groups in Blackrock and at ‘The House’ are extremely proud to be chosen to take part in the Pride of Place competition. Judging of the competition will take place virtually and concludes on 30th September. The Pride of Place virtual awards ceremony will take place on the 20th November.

For more information on Pride of Place please visit www.prideofplace.ie

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