The Forge Project, Churchill, Co Kerry, has won one of the three awards in the “Celebrating the impact of Leader on Rural Communities” search for Ireland’s most popular rural development project.
In a public vote, the Spa Fenit Community Council’s project to acquire a derelict forge and use Leader rural development funding to restore the building as a tourist attraction and to maintain the area’s connection with forging, was the winner in the Economic Development, Enterprise Development and Job Creation category.
About 30 projects were nominated around the country.
In the Social Inclusion category, the Dynamics Violin Project, Dundalk, Co Louth, was the winner.
It offers free music lessons to primary school children who are disadvantaged or who live in isolated rural areas.
In the Rural Environment category, the Environmental Workshop Series, Ballyboughal, Co Dublin, was the winner. The Ballyboughal Hedgerow Society used Leader funding to deliver workshops to raise awareness of local biodiversity and wildlife.
The National Rural Network’s Leader Impact celebrated the impact on rural communities of the Leader programme, operating in Ireland since 1991, co-funded nationally and by the EU.
The winning Forge Project in Churchill was set up originally in 2002 by the Spa Fenit Community Council.
The project was a restoration and construction of a heritage centre, completed in 2016.
The forge dated from the 19th century, but fell into disrepair after the death of blacksmith Patrick O’Sullivan.
It was purchased by a benefactor who offered it in trust to the