Kilmeen and Castleventry Community Development Association is a particularly fine example of the incredible community spirit that’s to be found throughout West Cork. In the last 12 months alone, members of the association have coordinated and worked on a number of important projects in the area.
Jason Collins, who is chairman of Kilmeen and Castleventry Community Development Association, speaking at a special meeting held at Bealad recently to review the year’s progress, stated that an amazing total of 84 volunteers took part in environmental projects in the community this year. These included several enthusiastic members of Kilmeen Macra na Feirme, led by branch chairperson and then reigning ‘Queen of the Land,’ Geraldine Barrett.
There were two major projects undertaken during the summer which the meeting agreed have considerably enhanced the local environment. The first, possibly a unique project in West Cork, was the cleaning of the twelve bridges in the parish. This involved the slow, meticulous clearing by hand of ivy, moss and other assorted vegetation – revealing the beautiful stonework in these bridges for the first time in generations. The second was the creation, in what was an unused plot of ground, of what is now the delightful Gearagh Park on the banks of the River Argideen beside Gearagh Bridge. Picnic tables were kindly donated by Drinagh and Lisavaird Co-ops. A local carpenter led an industrious team in making several large wooden flower-boxes to adorn the park, the nearby bridge and other scenic locations in the parish. Another volunteer supervised the planting of flowers in these, creating extra vibrant colour in the community throughout the summer.
The year’s work had begun with a massive spring-clean of the roadsides in the parish, the clearing of illegal dumps and the removal of several trailers of the collected rubbish. The car park in Rossmore was thoroughly cleaned and the parish pump painted. The Biblical Garden at Bealad Church received a much-needed makeover from Teresa and Alfie Dullea and is once again a thing of beauty. Recently, volunteers planted daffodil bulbs in Gearagh Park and at other locations, so that next spring locals and visitors around Ballygurteen, Bealad and Rossmore may enjoy the sight of hosts of ‘golden daffodils, fluttering and dancing in the breeze.’
With so much activity, it was found necessary to relax and celebrate – hence a community picnic attended by more than 70 people of all age groups, was thoroughly enjoyed by all in the idyllic setting of the new Gearagh Park last September.
Dermot (Dermy) O’Donovan, a master craftsman of Kilbree and formerly of the parish, made a beautiful Celtic Cross which members of the association placed in position over Trinity Holy Well in Castleventry. Further work in the immediate area will be undertaken in 2015. This holy well was a place of annual pilgrimage by the local people on Trinity Sunday until about 1960.
Members of the community association were also pleased to give their enthusiastic support to the ‘Winter Concert’ held in Christ Church, Kilmeen recently. Here youthful voices blended beautifully with voices of experience to create a real community choir, providing a truly memorable experience for all present. Proceeds went to Christ Church and Kilmeen Social Club. The volunteers working with the Kilmeen and Castleventry Community Development Association, all agree that the various projects were undertaken with a magnificent generous spirit of co-operation and camaraderie which brought the whole community together like the ‘meitheals,’ of olden times – and that there remains the lasting satisfaction of doing something worthwhile for the benefit of the whole community.
The chairman has thanked and congratulated everyone on the tremendous programme of work undertaken in 2014 which he hopes will be continued next year.