ABBEYFEALE, County Limerick has been announced as the overall winner of the Cadbury and Today FM Sound Town Award for 2021.
Judges chose from seven entries across the country, each embodying Ireland’s worldwide reputation for kindness, generosity, and community spirit.
Following a rigorous judging process, the judging panel agreed that all of this year’s other finalists – Crosshaven in Cork, Murrintown in Wexford, New Inn in Tipperary, Birr in Offaly, Kinvara in Galway, and Redcastle in Donegal – were excellent, but Abbeyfeale was ultimately awarded the €10,000 top prize.
Abbeyfeale’s sense of community spirit shone through with the development of a community shop, An Siopa Milseán. Following the closure of a local sweet shop in December 2020, Abbeyfeale natives led by Noreen Cotter, set out to help the local community. Noreen Cotter and friends, began developing An Siopa Milseán, using antique display items from an old grocery shop on New Street. They managed to preserve a host of items from the 1920s shop, from Lifebuoy soap and paraffin lamps to old Christmas selection boxes and weighing scales for sweets.
After countless weekends and evenings of hard work, An Siopa Milseán opened its doors on Easter Sunday, 2021. The opening day brought great joy in the town and lifted lockdown spirits within the community. Abbeyfeale locals have said that An Siopa Milseán was a lifeline for them during lockdown, with many looking forward to catching up with shopkeeper Mary Flynn, an Abbeyfeale local who worked at the local shop for 37 years. As well as being a lifeline for some, An Siopa Milseán has given local bakers and producers an opportunity to sell their produce, allowing locals to support their community and shop local.
Upon receiving the news that Abbeyfeale had won the top prize, Noreen said; “We were just thrilled to have been selected as Cadbury’s Sound Town winner. There were so many other deserving entries we honestly couldn’t believe it when the zoom link came through. People keep popping in to the Siopa Milseán congratulating us. It has given all in Abbeyfeale a welcome boost. From the bottom of our hearts, Míle Buíochas.”
Today FM’s Weekend Breakfast presenter Alison Curtis said: “Each year our Sound Town campaign with Cadbury Ireland continues to surprise me – every county this year had multiple towns nominated each with their own wonderfully unique story of their strong sense of community spirit.
“It is a wonderful campaign and even more important and special during these last challenging few years – communities have come together in remarkable ways to the betterment of everyone who lives there.”
‘Sound Town’ is a Today FM and Cadbury Ireland initiative, which aims to shine a light on what makes Irish communities so unique, by awarding a ‘Sound Town’ status to communities that embody generosity, kindness and general soundness. Throughout the year, monthly winning towns are selected by Today FM’s Alison Curtis and presented with an official ‘Sound Town’ plaque. Each monthly winning town will be shortlisted for a chance to win €10,000, when the overall 2021 Sound Town winner is announced at the end of the year.
Speaking about the Sound Town initiative, Tricia Burke, Cadbury Ireland, said; “This year has been another challenging year for towns across the country, and it has been incredibly inspiring to see the unique sense of community spirit come to life in such difficult circumstances. All seven finalist towns demonstrated the generosity, kindness and caring atmosphere that makes Ireland’s communities so special – and the people of Abbeyfeale are extremely worthy winners of this year’s overall award.
“We were absolutely delighted to partner with Today FM again this year to bring the Sound Town initiative to life and on behalf of everyone at Cadbury Ireland, we want to congratulate everyone in Abbeyfeale who contributed to this generous and inspiring campaign.”