Saturday, November 07, 2015

Awards Night honoured contributors to Kilcullen life

There was a full house at last night's presentation of the annual Community Awards in the Heritage Centre, writes Brian Byrne.

Recipients of the awards, which are organised by Kilcullen Community Action around nominations from the community, were Adrienne Byrne of Scoil Bhride, Kilcullen GAA, Pat Lynch, Dr AJF O'Reilly, Mischa Fekete of Bridge Camphill Community, Kilcullen Soccer Club, and Pat Foley.

The nomination for Adrienne Byrne, secretary of Scoil Bhride, commended her as the 'welcome face' for pupils, parents, teachers and visitors alike to the school. A first point of contact for many new residents to Kilcullen, she provides advice and direction to all kinds of services and facilities. She is also involved in the Rainbow organisation which offers help to students with difficulties, and is heavily involved with the Parish Council.

Accepting the Award, Adrienne said Kilcullen is a 'fantastic place to live' and is 'truly blessed' with facilities for children and families. Thanking those who had helped and encouraged her in her life and work here, she paid particular tribute to the children with whom she interacts, who 'really make my life absolutely wonderful'.

The nomination for the Kilcullen GAA Development Committee commended their 'brilliant work' over the last year, with the work on the training pitch and the provision of new lights. Accepting the Award, Committee chairman Martin Murphy thanked Kilcullen people for their support of the Club, and said the ongoing development is 'for the future of the children in Kilcullen'.

On the nomination of Pat Lynch, Noel Clare noted that it isn't often that the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award can be given to somebody who has recently celebrated his 90th birthday 'and is still going strong'. The commendation recorded Pat's 'amazingly active' role in the community, especially in a wide variety of  areas and facilities, many of which are there today due to the work of Pat and people like him.

Pat himself recalled how his parents had cycled to Kilcullen from their married quarters on the Curragh Military Camp, which they were required to leave during the 'Emergency', and found a house here after checking out other towns like Kildare and Newbridge and finding them not quite as attractive. He concluded with a verse which he learned as a young man, and which aptly sums up his life. 'Somebody said that it couldn't be done/And he with a grin replied/Maybe that's so, but here is one/Who will not say No till he's tried'.

A nomination for Dr Tony O'Reilly, formerly of Castlemartin, was a 'special thank you' for what he had done in support of the community of Kilcullen over some 43 years, 'much of it done quietly'. His restoration of Castlemartin and St Mary's Church would be part of a 'wonderful heritage asset', and many organisations and facilities which are today an essential part of the fabric of the town were helped financially by him.

Accepting the Award on Dr O'Reilly's behalf, his estate manager for all of those years, Jim Kelly, noted that his specific brief when they arrived in Castlemartin was that they would contribute to the community by buying locally, supporting local businesses and organisations, and by so doing would be supporting the families of those who worked in them. He said Dr O'Reilly 'absolutely adored Kilcullen', and that he will treasure this Award.

The nomination of Mischa Fekete of the Bridge Camphill Community was a recognition of someone who has made 'a huge contribution' to Kilcullen over the last two decades and more. Apart from his work with the Camphill Community, which has helped break down barriers between those with special needs and the other residents of Kilcullen, Mischa has been involved with many other aspects of the town, especially in the areas of music and drama, 'a man of many talents and always willing to share those talents'.

For his own part, Mischa thanked the community of Kilcullen for making him and his friends in the Camphill project so welcome. "I think the town very willingly reached out to encompass all of us, and naturally included people, and this wouldn’t have happened in every town. It was something magical." He accepted the Award, he said, on behalf of all those in Bridge Camphill.

Kilcullen Soccer Club's nomination outlined the success story of a club 'thanks to a core group of people who have made it happen'. In particular, the work of new people to the town who have built on the early foundations, like current chairman Peter O'Sullivan, was commended, and their efforts have resulted in a club that both players and managers can be proud of. Accepting the Award, Peter noted that, like any organisation, a 'huge amount' of unseen work goes on in every organisation, and he particularly thanked the 40 or more people who turn up every week to coach the young and adult players.

The most surprised Award recipient of the evening was Pat Foley, photographer for The Bridge Magazine over most of the publication's 45 years. The citation noted that he has recorded community life in so many ways over those years, its social history and many of the other changes, a collection which it is hoped can be safeguarded for the future in some book or internet form. Pat was left rather at a loss for words ...

The local Tidy Towns Awards were also presented. The Jerry Kelly Memorial Perpetual Trophy for the Best Large Estate was presented to Esker Lea. The Brendan Dowling Perpetual Trophy for the Best Green Area was won by Laurel Wood. The Byrne Perpetual Cup for the Best New Business went to Eye Candy. Sunbury Close was awarded the Jim Roche Memorial Cup for the Best Small Estate. The Most Improved Small Estate was won by Brigid's Avenue, and the Most Improved Large Estate by Hillcrest. The Best Business Premises was awarded to O'Connell's White Horse Inn.

Certificates of Commendation for Window Displays and Presentation were presented to Bardons, Nichola Kennedy, Nolans Butchers, Armelle’s Cake Shop, Vincent’s, The Cottonwood Tree, Shabby Chic, Secret Kloset, Ger’s Fruit & Veg, and Easy Living.

KCA chairman Niall McDonnell thanked all those who helped to organise and judge the Awards, and particularly mentioned Joe O'Connor, who once again had donated the Award trophies for the evening.

All the pictures are here.