Mallow beams with pride for judges

The Pride of Place judges were in Mallow last Friday, August 23rd to see evidence of the sense of pride the Racing Home for Easter Festival generates within the local community. Suggested for the nomination by Avondhu/Blackwater Development, Cork County Council put the festival forward for the national award, which recognises the collaborative efforts of the local community in the lead- up to and the running of the festival events. Refreshed after a night of hospitality at the Hibernian Hotel, judges, former County Managers Terry O’Niadh and Blaise Treacy, accompanied by local co-ordinator Fiona Hayes, arrived at Cork Racecourse Mallow to begin their tour of the town and the festival locations. They were greeted there by the County Mayor Noel O’Connor; Mayor of Mallow Johnny Griffin and Festival Chairperson Mary Kelly as well as local representatives John Paul O’Shea, Dan Joe Fitzgerald, Jerry Mullaly and committee members.

After seeing the racecourse grounds and corporate boxes, it was off by vintage car to Mallow Railway Station for the presentation proper to begin. At the station Pat O’Sullivan, Station Master and the Easter Festival mascot Bunny (manned by Davis College students) met the judges upon their arrival which was also broadcast by the station announcer.

Outlining the large operation which swings into action in the lead-up to the event, Mary Kelly and PR for the festival Sara McMahon gave the judges the inside track into how the yearly event comes about.

“The presentation gave us an invaluable opportunity to evaluate the event to date”, says Mary. “We were bowled over when we listed out all the groups who are incorporated into the festival each Easter, from Mallow Town Council and Cork County Council to Mallow Tidy Towns, Mallow Development Partnership, the GAA Complex, and cultural groups such as Cór Magh Ealla, St. Anne’s Historical Society and many, many more”.

The judges seemed particularly impressed with the turnout of dignitaries at the presentation, such as Maura Morrell and Louis Duffy from Cork County Council, Marie Healy from Fáilte Ireland and Niall Healy of Avondhu/Blackwater Development as well as local TD Tom Barry. Deputy Barry told the judges that he felt the committee and local groups were creating a brand that would come to national recognition in the years to come, while Town and County Councillor Dan Joe Fitzgerald told the judging party that he felt Mallow would no longer be known as the former sugar factory town, as the festival was fostering a new positive connotation for Mallow.

“It goes to show just how much support there is for this event, everyone was more than pleased to accept our invitation to come and meet the judges and give them their feedback about the event”, says Mary.

The judges were then treated to a personal tour of Mallow, led by Dan Doolan of St Anne’s Historical Society, dropping into local businesses such as Mallow Print on the way to see first-hand how local suppliers were benefiting from the event, before travelling to Mallow Castle grounds to have a personal introduction to the famous white deer. The tour ended with yet more generous hospitality courtesy of Festival Treasurer Denis Murphy of Albert Lynch’s Bar and before leaving, the judges were presented with homegrown vegetables by the members of Cope Foundation, Mallow.

The judging continues around the country, and the awards ceremony will be held in Derry on November 16th. “We really hope that the judges could see for themselves just what a warm and welcoming place Mallow is; we are so proud of our event and all the groups and volunteers we work with each and every year, who give their time and efforts so generously and it would be great to get further in the competition so that dedication can be recognised nationally”, says Mary.