Aran’s Inis Óirr up for top global award

LivCom living community awards to be conferred in China today

A sculpture  in memory of those who drowned off the Aran island of Inis Oírr.  Photograph: Paddy Crowe

A sculpture in memory of those who drowned off the Aran island of Inis Oírr. Photograph: Paddy Crowe


The Aran island of Inis Oírr may be one tiny island lying off a small island on the western edge of Europe, but it

hopes to make a “big impression” at an international environmental contest in China today.

The island is one of four Irish and two Northern Irish communities contesting the 2013 finals of the LivCom Awards, the international “liveable communities” competition in Xiamen.

LivCom, also known as the “Green Oscars”, was initiated in 1998 to nurture international best practice in improving the quality of life of citizens.

Run by a British-registered charity, its remit is to “recognise innovative projects that demonstrate sustainability and environmental awareness, and have a positive impact on the local community and environment”.

Arts activities

The awards attract communities from more than 50 countries. Previous Irish category winners have included Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and Greystones, Co Wicklow.

Inis Oírr, Co Galway, Julianstown, Co Meath, and Birdhill, Co Tipperary, are among 13 finalists in this year’s category A awards for communities of up to 20,000 people, while Learmount Community Development Group in Co Derry is also represented.

Cloughjordan’s eco-village in Co Tipperary is a finalist in the “socio-economic project” category, while Julianstown Community Garden in Co Meath and Sieve Gullion Forest Park in Co Armagh have been nominated in the “natural project” category.

Paddy Crowe, manager of Cómhar Caomhán Teo, the Inis Oírr co-operative, who is one of three island representatives in Xiamen, said the island’s arts centre, its craft activities, its stone-wall building and stone-sculpting workshops are central to its submission, along with its commitment to the Irish language.

Inis Oírr’s Áras Éanna runs a year-round programme of arts activities, and the island’s stone-wall building workshops, along with stone-sculpting and lettering, have also added an environmental dimension to its tourism-based economy.

Earlier this year, a stone monument to people who had drowned off the island was created by Alexandra Morosco and Karin Sprague, two visiting North American artists who participated in the Féile na gCloch stone-building festival.

“The two artists carried out the sculpting and lettering on the local stone as they felt they wanted to leave something to the island,” Mr Crowe explained.

Pride of Place

It was as a result of participation in Price of Place contests at home that the Irish groups were nominated for LivCom, Mr Crowe said.

Up to 500 delegates are attending the awards ceremony, with results by the judging panel of environmental and landscape management professionals due to be announced later today.