Swinford win Pride of Place 2015
Congratulations to all, Swinford win Pride of Place 2015 in the “Urban Neighbourhood” category. Congratulations also to Cabinteely from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown in Co Dublin and Mayfield/Glengormaley Newtownabbey in Co Antrim who were both runners up in our category.
This is the second year now that Swinford has been entered into the Pride of Place competition. Although we were unsuccessful with our entry last year, (which was in a different category) it did serve as a foundation for this years entry. It showed the Pride of Place judges the huge level of community spirit and involvement that there is here in the Swinford community and surrounding areas.
Here’s the judges report from this years Pride of Place booklet;
Swinford is situated on a tributary of the famous river Moy. The Swinford community is at the fore-front in Mayo of developing a number of Community projects that are both innovative and original. This year will see the completion of a number of those projects in town that has with the assistance guidance and support of the local authority just developed the Swinford Cultural Centre.
One of the many projects ongoing by the Tidy Towns group is the restoration of Swinford Famine and Paupers Graves. The Famine and Paupers Graveyards are part of the popular annual historical walk during Siamsa Sráide, a summer street festival with open air Ceili dancing Heritage Day and International busking competitions.
The visit to the winning entry in this category concerned a spectacular outpouring of community pride as a community project involving a joint initiative with the council, community and a world renowned international institution. It built on a recent entry in Pride of Place 2014 as it reached out as a community to regenerate part of the town which held sad and unspoken memories of a distant past. There has been created the opportunity of a whole new future putting it on an international map with an iconic project capturing the Spirit of its Place.
Swinford Tidy Towns first began the restoration of the Famine and Paupers graves back in early 2012. They were originally restored in the early ’90’s, but sadly were let fall into disrepair. There were many meetings and with the guidance of the heritage office of Mayo Co Co the Tidy Towns volunteers undertook the backbreaking restoration of the Famine Graveyard by hand.
In January 2015 Travis Price and his Architectural students from the Catholic University of Washington arrived in Swinford to make plans for the Spirit of Place project and to learn about the history of the Famine workhouse and graveyard. The group were given a tour of all the historical sites in Swinford by local historians Michael Comer and Michéal Murphy. Some members from Swinford Tidy Towns committee also accompanied the group on the tour, along with Cllr Michael Smyth, some students from Scoil Muire & Padraig and Danny O’Toole (Mayo Co Co project manager). As well as a tour of the town, the group were also brought to the old Protestant Graveyard, the handball alley, the Church, the old fever hospital, the Famine Plot and the Paupers Graveyard. The Spirit of Place Swinford installation will be the initiation of a larger project by Mayo County Council linking all the heritage sites around Swinford.
They then came back at the beginning of July to begin work on the installation of the “Procession of the Souls” memorial. They began construction of “The Procession of the Souls” memorial the following day. The Spirit of Place Swinford installation was completed ten days later. A public unveiling and opening ceremony was held on Friday the 10th July. The memorial anf Famine Graveyard were blessed at a special Mass held at the site by Bishop Brendan Kelly.