History and heritage have huge potential to attract visitors.

Fore third in virtual first for Pride of Place contest

They’ve done it again! Fore Heritage and Amenity Group have won another National title for Westmeath and the tiny village of Fore.

On Saturday night, three community groups went forward to the National Pride of Place Awards representing Westmeath; Fore Heritage and Amenity Group, the Irish Road Victims Association and Clonmellon Community Garden.

In a virtual final, broadcast on Facebook and YouTube, host Marty Morrisey praised all the groups that made it to the final, but unfortunately only one of the three groups secured a coveted place.

"Covid-19 had a huge impact on all of us," said Cllr Frank McDermott, chairperson of the group, "but it also brought our communities even closer together and we saw such strong, resilient community spirit.

"So it was brilliant that the Pride of Place competition and its founder Tom Dowling, decided to hold the event and celebrate communities.

"I’m sorry that our other two Westmeath entries didn’t get placed, but their extraordinary work placed them at the national final and I would encourage them to have another go next year."

In 2017, the Fore group won the top award in Pride of Place, for the creation of the looped walk in Fore and the community development that underpinned it. This year they were not judged in the small population category, but instead were going up against significant tourism developments including the winner of the category The Castlecomer Discovery Park in Kilkenny.

"Margaret Egan, in Westmeath County Council was so supportive throughout the process," said Frank.

"It was a virtual judging, which was nerve wracking. Our group had created a number of small videos with local people talking about the trail and the associated tourism. This was sent in with a really big piece of work in terms of an application form.

"We also talked about the many incredible groups and individuals in our area that are involved in tourism; artists like Teresa Doyle and Ursula Meehan, Jane O’Reilly in the coffee shop in Fore and Ita and Beatrice, who run the two bars in Fore; Tullynally and Loughcrew, the work of action groups in Castlepollard and Collinstown, Delvin and Clonmellon and over in Multyfarnham – how tourism is a real community asset in north Westmeath.

"Thanks also to Rose, Evelyn and Finbar Darroch and Bartle D’Arcy, four children from the area who created a video for the judges of everything in Fore."

For a place so rooted in the past, Fore Heritage and Amenity Group is always thinking about the future.

"The reason that we won a place in this national competition is down to the fact that we have such a brilliant community here and we are always thinking what can we do now in terms of development, in terms of growing tourism and in terms of making sure that any benefit we get from increased visitors is a beneficial to the community. We are always working on the next thing for Fore.

"Thanks to Westmeath County Council for their support and to Pride of Place for selecting us. When we can, we will all be getting together for a wee celebration."

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