Begin Together Awards

Winners and Runners Up Town Summaries


  1. Population Category 0 – 2,000


    Clonbur claims to be one of Ireland’s best kept secrets and the town presented wonderful community and business endeavours to the judges. The judges heard the big story of a small, caring community, where everybody is important and everyone matters. The judges were particularly impressed with Clonbur’s vision and plans for a visitor centre for a new geopark. The demonstration of the active volunteer work by the community and especially its young people for a developing nation was very powerful. Overall, the judges were impressed with this wonderful, ambitious, caring and enterprising community, and at the depth of voluntary community service for its own local population and for overseas communities.


    This well-known town formed an alliance focussed on bringing everybody together behind the common purpose of re-imagining and revitalising the town. The town made an excellent presentation including a video walk-through of the town which highlighted the development of a socio-economic plan, in 2019, after substantial consultation. Since then, significant steps have been taken, including improving infrastructure, diversifying the town product and cleaning up derelict buildings. A smartlab and an impressive list of new businesses have also opened. The judges were impressed by a town that has clearly revived itself and, while recognising that it is in the early stages of an important journey, they are convinced they have met a future category winner.

  2. Population Category 2,001 – 4,000


    Carndonagh, with its excellent leadership and its collaborative approach to growing the town, has second, third and fourth generation families trading in it. The town’s ambition is to “transform it from a town that visitors drive through to an attractive tourist destination in its own right”. The judges were impressed with the fundraising for a critical service provided by local charity, Lifeline. Overall, the judges were convinced that this peripheral market town, steeped in history and heritage, is well on the way to achieving its ambition.


    Kilrush is a picturesque, maritime town on a visible journey of progress. The judges received an excellent presentation in the setting of the magnificent Vandeleur Gardens – one of the town’s many highlights – which demonstrated imagination and clear business and community involvement in the town. The presentation was delivered with great energy, passion and pride in the town’s history and heritage. There was an excellent focus on the town’s future and its regeneration. The judges were impressed with the town’s leadership and its collaboration with the local authority. They were also impressed with the focus on how the town will develop for the benefit of its community over the shorter and longer term.

  3. Population Category 4,001 – 7,000


    Kinsale town addressed every aspect of the town’s community and business life. This included health and wellbeing, social inclusion, the arts, the community school and its support for young entrepreneurs. The judges were impressed with how the vulnerable were looked after and the town’s vision for the “business comeback” campaign. The town demonstrated very high standards and ambitions to be world class in everything it does. This picturesque harbour town is a beacon of hope and inspiration for others and proves what can be achieved by business and community working together to support each other.


    This attractive, former market town is located in an area of immense natural beauty. The town made an excellent presentation addressing the main strengths of the town with a huge focus on the great work undertaken by the community of volunteers in response to the challenges posed by Covid-19. The “Hello Neighbour” initiative and the “Town Health Check” impressed the judges as did the excellent work of the town team in co-ordinating the work of the various organisations and stakeholders. The tourist sector is important to the local economy with the Greenway project and the development of the 40 km walking and cycling route around the lakes seen as a huge, future addition to the local economy. While the town is on a journey, the judges are confident that its excellent leadership will drive the vision and ambition for the town.

  4. Population Category 7,001 – 14,000


    Ballina town turned the negative of Covid-19 into a positive as people from the town worked together to tackle dereliction, improve biodiversity, and support businesses and community organisations to respond to the challenges. The town has proven what it can achieve by collaboration and partnership. It has ambitious and innovative proposals to deliver on its vision to be an enterprising and inclusive town. The judges believed that this town has every right to be confident as it prepares to celebrate its 300th anniversary, in 2023, with many exciting major projects in progress including “The Mary Robinson Centre”.


    Enniskillen made an excellent presentation highlighting the town’s strengths and plans. This county town, with a strong retail sector complimenting a well-known tourist destination, has a uniquely continental ambience unparalleled on Ireland’s inland waterways. The judges were impressed with the community spirit demonstrated through its Covid-19 response, its neighbourhood partnership and its evidence-based response to Brexit. The town that calls itself “the island town” has many investments planned or underway, driven by a strong local team, and all designed to make it even more attractive for visitors and residents alike.

  5. Population Category 14,000 +


    Ennis town made a superb presentation to the judges delivered by a wide range of stakeholders who clearly demonstrated the fantastic response of the town to the many unprecedented challenges of Covid-19. The town demonstrated a powerful partnership between businesses, the local authority and the community. The passion and ambition for the town impressed the judges, who were equally impressed with the town’s vision and its plans for the future. Those plans include a “Recovery Plan (Niche Destination Plan)”, which, as it is implemented, is being led by a successful local business man.


    This wonderful, large town made a superb presentation to the judges demonstrating its response to the many challenges of Covid-19. The judges were impressed with the excellent partnership between businesses, the local authority, statutory agencies and the community. This partnership, developed over the previous few years, continues to prosper and has grown stronger during the past difficult months. The town’s cohesive presentation, demonstrating the commitment, passion and ambition that has brought it new recognition and status in recent years, was impressive. This town has a clear vision and the “Town Economic Forum” is putting together an overarching framework to guide the development of Sligo into a “smart city” post-Covid-19. Overall, a top-class entry.

  6. City Award


    Newry city brought the judges on a wonderful, well-coordinated journey of passion, energy, belief and drive. They demonstrated excellent collaboration, exceptional endeavour and a consistency of approach. Their holistic approach – reflecting the work of the community, the public sector organisations and the business sector – convinced the judges that they were all speaking as one voice. The judges were particularly enthused by the innovative “VIP retail Fob” initiative. This small city has become a significant retail, business and residential location with a very big vision for the future.

    Grafton Quarter

    This entry brought the judges on a journey of excitement informed by an awareness of an extraordinary decade of challenges and development. Despite major challenges, this area maintains its iconic identity and the judges were impressed with the caring approach of its response to vulnerable persons. The judges were reminded that Grafton Quarter, which features in Noel Purcell’s famous song the “Dublin Saunter”, still retains its status despite many alternative, competing shopping destinations and restaurants being established. The judges cannot wait to revisit this wonderful area as shoppers.

  7. Local Town Promotion Initiative (Special Covid Response Award Category)

    New Ross

    The vibrant and historic town of New Ross plays an important role in Ireland’s “Ancient East”. In an excellent presentation, it demonstrated a phenomenally successful promotion and marketing initiative. The judges were convinced that the spirit of the business and residential community in the town is being lifted as it makes enormous strides to become a key tourism destination town. The judges particularly acknowledged the strength of community spirit from all the presenters who ranged from long-standing businesses to newcomers.


    This stunning, multi-award-winning town has been acknowledged as an exemplar town in various competitions over the past 20 years. The town’s submission states that the hand of history and geography have both been kind to it – its beach has been voted Ireland’s best beach for 3 years in a row, since 2016. The judges were impressed by the town’s wonderfully well thought-out presentation with its exciting blend of video and live presentation. The judges were particularly excited about the town voucher scheme which, they felt, was unique in its approach and very successful. Overall, the town leadership is keenly focussed on the great place they inherited and they are steering it in the right direction.

  8. Local Community Enterprise Initiative (Special Covid Response Award)


    Via Wings, based in Dromore, is a wonderful social enterprise which made a passionate, emotive and informative presentation. The judges were impressed with the holistic approach of the organisation and how material services were used as the gateway to providing deeper, emotional and psychological supports. The social enterprise was set up in response to poverty in the area and has continually extended its range of services. The demonstration of how Via Wings changed to respond to the needs of cocooners and vulnerable families affected by Covid-19, made a big impact on the judges.


    The judges were treated to an excellent, wide-ranging and inclusive presentation using video and other media. This social enterprise initiative from a small, rural town impressed the judges with its responsive, wrap-around services for all ages which include providing a listening ear, building skills and capacity, and work experience. The judges complimented the initiative’s entrepreneurial spirit and the work in providing meals, care packages, educational packs and more to those in need. The judges had high praise for this wonderful social enterprise and were delighted with the opportunity to hear of its many endeavours.

  9. Overall Local Business and Community Response Initiative. (Special Covid Response Award)


    Tramore’s entry demonstrated how the whole town responded to the many unprecedented challenges of Covid-19 through a powerful visual presentation given by an excellent panel. The passion and ambition for the town was palpable as was the sense of partnership. The judges were very impressed with how the most vulnerable in the community are being looked after. Overall, the town demonstrated exceptional initiative and leadership by businesses and the community in their response to Covid-19. They are also very proud that one of its own local businesses developed the Covid-19 tracing app. The judges noted that many town improvement initiatives are being developed at this time.


    Inchicore/Kilmainham’s wonderful “Food Project” gave the judges the opportunity to hear excellent, seamless and passionate presentations. They also heard the voices of the beneficiaries of the project. The judges saw this initiative as an excellent example of a social engagement project. The project demonstrated ‘Ni neart go cur le cheile’ with wonderful commitment, planning, and resourcing, as well as generous food donations and a great spirit of entrepreneurship. The judges were impressed by the project’s legacy which includes food poverty research, a befriending service and an intercultural football project. The judges made a point of acknowledging the volunteer commitment of St. Patrick’s Athletic FC for their role in responding to Covid-19.

  10. Rising Star


    Tallaght delivered a very inspirational presentation from a team which represented all sectors in the community. They were very much aware of where they started from and the struggles that the town has faced to get this far on its journey. They were also very clear on the work that remains to be done to bring the town to the next level. The judges were left with the impression that they had engaged with a very supportive and determined team which had high levels of mutual respect and a clear understanding of the role that each played in their common endeavours. The judges were impressed by a town which has been on an upward trajectory for a considerable period and for which the Covid-19 crisis has demanded a detour rather than a change of direction.

    Carlow town

    This town continues to impress our judges with another quality entry in this year’s awards. This was an excellent performance with a great presentation by an efficient and cohesive team from many sectors within the town. The energy and creativity which was shown in responding to the Covid-19 crisis was impressive as were the many initiatives which were developed throughout the town. The judges specifically commented on the collaboration and respect between the various organisations and their sharing of a clear vision for the future of the town. The strategic and integrated approach which is being taken to the development of the town is also clear as is the wish of the community and its organisations to capitalise on the town’s impressive history and the many new facilities which have been put in place in recent years.

  11. Overall winner

    The overall winner has been chosen from the Population and City Category winners. The winner of Ireland’s Most Enterprising Town in the Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together Awards 2020 is no stranger to these awards having been an overall category winner in 2018 and in 2019.

    The judges were inspired by this town’s high standards and its ambition to be world class in everything it does.

    The winner of Ireland’s Most Enterprising Town in the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Awards 2020 is Kinsale, County Cork.