Village Playground and Park

Village Park

It was clear from the outset that the playground site was far greater than required and with the completion of the children’s facility the Community Council’s attention focused on another
project that would complement the children’s facility.

This time it was the turn of the more senior members of the community and the planning for a village park gathered pace. Professional help was secured to ensure that the highest levels of presentation would prevail and an exemplary level of commitment to the development was displayed by Council Chair, Seamus Nash, and his small band of fellow Council members. Working in close liaison with landscape architect, Niall Lehane, they systematically overcame wide range of recurring snags to ultimately bring the project to fruition.

Valerie Murphy, CEO of Avondhu Blackwater Partnership and Councillor JP O’Shea, Chair of Cork County Council Northern Committee, performed the official opening of The Village Park on 23 October 2011. Those who gathered on the day remarked on the peacefulness and general attractiveness of what was once Tom Beary’s vegetable garden. They welcomed enthusiastically the prospect of congregating here during their leisure moments and relaxing in the midst of natural beauty.

Since then ample seating has been set against the neat perimeter wall and carefully chosen shrubs and trees add to the attractiveness of the lawn through which winds a little cobbled path. A tumbling water feature greets visitors directly at the Park gate as one enters the Park and this is complemented by a further bubbling water feature at the meeting place. And then there is perhaps the most striking feature of all, the dropping stream that will remind older people of the stream that once flowed nearby.

All this led to no little expense and from the very beginning the Council set to the task of clearing the substantial total cost of €150,000.00 with its usual sense of urgency. Again Cork County Council and Avondhu Blackwater Partnership were approached for support, and once more they demonstrated the customary generosity that inspires small voluntary bodies to undertake the enrichment of their environment (in fact, the County Council provided a grant of €30,000.00). In the final analysis, these bodies can take pleasure in the knowledge that they have granted aided some 35% of a worthy project in total and that the balance will be met by an imaginative combination of sponsorship and the usual fundraising activities. An example of this is seen in the invitation issued for the sponsorship of the all-weather seats and by the summer of 2012 each of the sixteen had brought in a sum of €500.00. Sponsorship was also secured for most of the other features such as the water features and the trees that are set attractively along the boundary walls. All this leads to optimism that the debt will be cleared within a few years so that the Council can again turn to other ambitious projects.

Today the visitor to the Park is pleasantly taken by the low-key beauty and serenity of the place. Impressed too, recently, were the judges of the ‘Pride in Our Community 2012 Environmental Project’ who gave us their first prize in the ‘Best Village’ category of this competition – no mean feat when one considers that we were best out of forty-four centres, and second overall in the county. This is a County Council/ Muintir na Tíre County Federation competition that aims to promote community based projects that will be of long term benefit to people who have become conscious of their environment and the overall development of their area. The Community Council was happy to receive all the plaudits of for their initiative and primarily views successes such as these as a valuable encouragement to continue in its efforts to make Kilworth a better place for all.

Village Playground

Kilworth village has witnessed a major growth in housing since 2000 and extensive housing developments have been a feature of the landscape: first there was Cois Coillte and following that Elm Place, Páirc na gCapall and Coill Darachemerged.This has been reflected in a growing population: in the village there were 441 in 1996 and by the 2006 census that figure had gone to 645. In keeping with this growth, the 144 houses recorded in 2000 had grown to 411 in 2010.

With a rapidly growing community, the desirability of having a well-appointed facility where children might play in secure surroundings was being spoken of by young parents. The notion of having a playground in some central area came rapidly into focus and an enthusiastic sub-committee spearheaded by Therese O’Flynn and Ella Coffey was formed. Eventually their attention centred on the former ‘Hawk and Owl’ bird sanctuary. This had been an earlier Community Council initiative inspired by an enthusiastic tenant of the Market House and was now no more. Ideally located in the centre of the village, it had been parish property for many years. Fr Donal Leahy, PP, generously facilitated the sub-committee by providing a twenty-five year lease to the Community Council for a nominal sum and fundraising began straightaway. Determined to explore every avenue to secure the necessary development funds, the sub-committee systematically organised fashion events, school no-uniform days, cake sales, supermarket bag packing and the raffles to enable them achieve their aim.

Overtures were made for official support and Cork County Council donated €40,000.00 and Blackwater/ Leader €36,000.00. In addition, private donations yielded some €22,000.00 in total (one of which amounted to €5, 000.00). When the final sum was calculated it was reported to the 2012 AGM of the Community Council that the total figure had come to no less than €170,000.00.

Planning meetings took place over a period of many months leading up to the official opening in May 2008 and a high level of commitment was evidenced in the actions of the enthusiastic group of mothers. The result of their efforts has now emerged in the form of a highly attractive playground. While outside visitors are high in praise or the colourful array of expertly designed modern equipment and surfacing, parents and grandparents are comfortable in the knowledge that the necessary safety standards have been adhered to. And they rejoice in the cries of happy children filling the air as they run excitedly from see-saw to slide.

Finally, the work of the playground sub-committee was recognised in a fitting way on a beautiful June day in 2011 when at the entrance to the Village Park and Playground Her Excellency Ms Mary McAleese unveiled the commemorative plaque marking fifty years of Muintir na Tíre in Kilworth. With the music of the band of the Southern Command echoing in the air, she paid tribute to the community for its spirit of resourcefulness. In her address to the assembled community she identified Kilworth as a symbol of what a small community can achieve. Her comments were coloured no doubt by what she knew of Kilworth already. Only two years before at the ‘Pride of Place’ prize giving ceremony in Cappoquin she had awarded Kilworth Community Council the national award in recognition of the various initiatives undertaken in instilling a sense of pride in one’s own place. The people felt very proud as they thronged around her and justly so. Kilworth had demonstrated the rich potential for development that resides in small resourceful communities.

 

 

 
 
 
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