Kinsale has been crowned ‘Ireland’s Most Enterprising Town’ at the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Awards 2020. This is the first time Kinsale has won the overall award, having taken home the National category award three years in a row!
This year the awards celebrated the many business and community groups who have come together to support their local area as they start to rebuild and recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The winners were announced on Ireland AM on Tuesday morning, with Kinsale claiming the prestigious title of ‘Ireland’s Most Enterprising Town’ thanks to the success of the ‘Kinsale Comeback Campaign’ and the outstanding efforts of the local community to reopen and regenerate the historical Cork town after the outbreak of Covid-19.
One of the amazing initiatives undertaken by the town in the face of the pandemic was to make PPE visors following a nationwide shortage. Students of Kinsale Community School produced tens of thousands of visors, designed by one of the students and made with a 3D printer. These visors were then distributed free of charge throughout the country to hospitals and care homes. And it didn’t just stop at visors! When a consignment of masks received by Cork University Hospital from China did not have a sufficient seal, students and staff at the school devised a special clip which effectively ensured the masks were wearable!
Meanwhile, when the lockdown was first introduced, local resident Niamh O’Connell recognised the need for the community of Kinsale to come together to help the most vulnerable members of their town. She set about creating the COVID Volunteer Group, which comprised of 80 people, who worked tirelessly to coordinate a sustained effort to support those people most in need.
As the lockdown eased and the economy began to open up once more, the Kinsale Chamber of Commerce launched the Kinsale Comeback Campaign and enlisted the expertise of global pandemic expert Dr Ian Norton to guarantee the safe re-opening of the town to visitors. Pedestrianising the town and encouraging on-street dining has meant Kinsale could successfully welcome back visitors to the brilliant array of restaurants, activity centres, and retailers in the town. These enterprising efforts also ensured they were pioneers in Ireland in terms of rejuvenating business while promoting a safety-first approach.
Speaking on behalf of the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business, Chairperson Guny Patel said: “We are so thrilled and honoured to receive this award. After a four-year journey, we put our heart and soul into the competition this year to tell the story of both the business and community response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kinsale is truly an incredible town and witnessing the collaboration and community spirit that took place during this extremely challenging year has been humbling. The Kinsale Comeback Campaign and the support it received from stakeholders such as Cork County Council and Failte Ireland as well as the business community here in Kinsale is proof that when we work together towards a common goal, we can come back stronger and achieve great things. This is the morale boost and vote of confidence that we needed to face the challenges ahead.”