Thriving community of Kilkenny celebrates NETA ’19 win

The Bank of Ireland branch in Kilkenny was buzzing this morning (13 December) as the medieval city celebrated its overall National Enterprise Town Awards (NETA) win for 2019.

Kilkenny was last week (5 December) named overall winner of the nationwide competition. The winning town collected a cash prize worth €33,000.

The Rising Star Award went to Castlebar which collected a cash prize of €20,000.

“The response from the community and business groups when we asked them to come out to the castle and showcase the city on the day of the judges’ visit was just overwhelmingly supportive”

Bank of Ireland county manager for Carlow and Kilkenny JJ Keyes said that the win for the medieval city was the result of team work, civic pride, community spirit and all of that work coming together on the day that the judges visited Kilkenny.

“Winning isn’t easy, it is often tough and the committee was hard at work for the last two years. There was huge learnings from the first year when we didn’t win the prize. There was a determination to get back on that podium and actually win the overall prize. This is incredible.”

He also congratulated Callan in Kilkenny which won a runner-up award, Carlow which won a runner-up Rising Star award as well as Borris and Bagenalstown which were named regional winners in the awards.

The power of community

Group of three women and two men holding awards.

From left: Maurice O’Connor, Kilkenny County Council; Mary O’Hanlon, Age Friendly, Deirdre Shine; Mag Whelan, PPN; and Simon O’Dwyer, Three Sixty. Image: John Kennedy

Speaking with ThinkBusiness on the night of the awards Marian Acremon, president of Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce said the win was really the result of the community pulling together.

“The initial work was getting a group of positive proactive people around the table and Deirdre Shine from Bank of Ireland in Kilkenny was instrumental in that. So in conjunction with the Local Enterprise Office and Chamber of Commerce and vital community group the Public Participation Network (PPN) we put a small core working group around the table and divided up the tasks. Between all of us we knew people who could help us to showcase the city.

“The response from the community and business groups when we asked them to come out to the castle and showcase the city on the day of the judges’ visit was just overwhelmingly supportive.

“Kilkenny is very fortunate. We have a range of small, medium and large businesses from across all sectors. From the Chambers of Commerce perspective it is a very strong and vibrant economic community and those people from all sectors and all sizes of business took it upon themselves to take time out of their business schedule and the community’s doers and shakers really supported our work and it paid back,” Acremon said.

The bank manager for Kilkenny city and county Deirdre Shine said it came down to doers and leaders in the city.

“We are absolutely thrilled because the ingredients are there in Kilkenny and I suppose for Marian, myself and the committee it was fantastic to bring it all together and showcase the brilliance of Kilkenny for what it is.

“Every single facet of the community came out, including the Gardai, they brought their horses, the army were there with their dog Fionn, everybody was there – anybody we asked to help was there in abundance,” Shine said.

Now in its fourth year, the Bank of Ireland National Enterprise Town Awards is a nationwide search to find Ireland’s most enterprising community. This year 107 towns and villages from almost every county nationwide submitted entries. Since the inaugural awards in 2016, more than 100 towns, urban areas and villages across the country have shared €500,000 in funding to invest in their community.

In all, some 42 towns on the night at the Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny last week shared in the total prize fund of €193,000.

Pictured (from left): Mayor Martin Brett; Cathaorleach Caithearleach Peter ‘Chap’ Cleere; Deirdre Shine, bank manager, Kilkenny & County, Bank of Ireland; JJ Keyes, head of Carlow and Kilkenny, Bank of Ireland; and Sean McKeown, director of Service, Kilkenny County Council. Image: John Kennedy

Written by John Kennedy (

Published: 13 December, 2019