voluntary arts ireland

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Ireland Involved

If you wanted to catch the true spirit of Ireland and its communities you might think of attending the next Ireland Involved Awards - the annual awards for volunteers across Ireland hosted by Volunteering Ireland. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the 2010 awards on behalf of Voluntary Arts Ireland and so made my way to the Mansion House in Dublin.

The nominees ranged from young Harry McLaughlin who at aged 6 decided to fundraise for the Concern Haiti Emergency Appeal, to Joan Coughlan aged 92 and still volunteering for the Third Age Foundation. Their stories and those of the other nominees are truly inspirational and remind you of the power that we all hold to do good in this world.

Another bright light in the evenings proceedings from a voluntary arts point of view was the category award made to Tina Robinson of Phizzfest, Phibsborough's Community Arts Festival. This year saw the first
Phizzfest and Tina and her team, all volunteers, organised an eclectic programme of 55 events over 4 days - from theatre to traditional music, cookery to a "Punks or Posers" discussion. Not only an artistic achievement, a life enhancing event for the local Phibsborough community.

During all the talk of the economic mess that Ireland seems to be in it is very easy to forget the capacity of people to be creative anyway and to be happy anyway. All the way throught the award ceremony I heard about people who had put aside their troubles to help others, and who had a positive story to tell.

I'm not sure I ever really understood the Celtic Tiger - turns out that is probably true of most people including the architects of it - but I do understand the value of the achievements of all of the Ireland Involved nominees. I understand it because it is real and it is tangible. If someone decides to encourage people to adopt a portion of a beach which they clean and take care of - which Emily Diebold did as part of Skerries Adopt a Beach project - then not only do you get a cleaner environment you get a more engaged community.

Maybe this spirit was part of the Celtic Tiger or maybe we thought we would come back to it once we had created a notional amount of financial wealth - who knows.
What Ireland Involved shows is that we have the capacity to make a better society even in these tough economic times.

To find out more about Voluntary Arts Ireland: http://www.vaireland.org
Ireland Involved: http://www.irelandinvolved.ie/
Phizzfest: http://www.phizzfest.ie/

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