Introduction
Background
St Joseph's Hall
Church
Primary School
Community
Way Forward


Community Development

Response to Parish Survey Findings (2007)

The final sections of the Parish Survey 2002 dealt with wider community issues. Approximately 40% of all survey respondents took the opportunity to comment on a wide range of issues from community relations to local infrastructure and facilities and a myriad of issues in between.

Among the main items about which positive comments were received were:

  • relations within the community and the strong sense of community of spirit in the town and surrounding areas;
  • inter-Church relations and the interaction between clergy and parishioners;
  • Church facilities, services, meetings and activities;
  • the strong leadership shown by the local clergy and the contribution and efforts of parish workers, voluntary helpers and parish committees;
  • school network and associated activities;
  • the contribution and effort of a wide variety of voluntary groups.



A problematic area that the survey identified was the issue of the accessibility of parish activities. There were two recurring themes here – awareness/communication and encouraging participation.

In the area of communication, while respondents acknowledged the success of the local schools in disseminating information, the need to ensure that information gets through to people outside of the school network was highlighted. Since the survey was conducted, the Parish Newsletter, which we endeavour to circulate to all local homes, has been extensively redeveloped and expanded. In addition, the Parish web-site, www.blessington.info, has been comprehensively populated with relevant local information and is regularly updated. In particular, the Blessington Community Directory, prepared by the Communications Committee of the Church of Our Lady, is a comprehensive register of all local groups and activities. Free internet access at the new Library opens up the possibility of access to the Parish web-site to a much wider audience than was previously possible. A notice-board containing details of relevant parish-related activities has also been made available outside the Church of Our Lady.

The need to ensure that activities were available to and accessible by a number of specific groups (commuters, parents with young children, youth, older people, working mothers and parents without children) was highlighted. Since the Parish Survey a detailed assessment of the needs of older parishioners has been conducted and the findings have been used to strengthen the case for the development of a permanent social service for older people in the town. The Parish Workers also carried out a short survey of the interests of women in the Parish. The dCaf initiative for the youth of the Parish has been documented under the section on St. Joseph’s Hall.

The final part of the 2002 Survey identified the needs and challenges facing Blessington. The main issues identified were the lack of facilities, particularly facilities for young people and infrastructural issues such as traffic and the physical appearance of the town. There have been many developments in recent years that merit recognition and there are also a number of developments at different stages of completion. Among these are:

  • new Library,
  • children’s playground,
  • new Fire Station,
  • the inner relief road,
  • the Day Care Centre at St Joseph’s Hall (but which needs a permanent home),
  • Christmas lights,
  • Blessington Youth Musical and Drama Group,
  • soccer and GAA Academies,
  • Community Games,
  • the newly established Scouts Group,
  • new St Mary’s Senior National School,
  • new No 1 School,
  • new GAA grounds,
  • new Forum Theatre.

Another positive development out of the Survey findings is that the Tidy Towns Committee has re-formed under the Chairmanship of Liam Fay and the group has been very active in the community over the past twelve months. Blessington Tidy Towns Committee won the prize for the best new entry in the 2006 Tidy Towns Competition.

A number of new residents in the Parish at the time of the Survey, and a number of long-standing residents, felt that newcomers may not always feel welcomed and may be reluctant to get involved in community/Parish initiatives. On hearing this, Fr Micheál McGréil SJ acknowledged that
“ The original residents are facing the challenge of retaining their community values and services while, at the same time, integrating a growing number of new families.”
As our town continues to expand, this challenge remains.

Speaking at the public presentation of the Survey results in May 2002, Fr. Micheál McGréil SJ also said that
“ The problems facing Blessington are quite similar to other communities within commuter distance of Dublin ... perhaps local development should be community led rather than developer led ... Blessington should seek to establish an Urban District Council to lead developments.”

As a result of the Survey, a United Community Body, Blessington & District Forum was established. The Forum is a 48 member body representing Blessington, the Lakes area, Ballyknockan, Lacken, Valleymount & Manor Kilbride and facilitates all matters in relation to Community Development, Planning, Town Development and Environmental Issues under the chairmanship of Mr. Michael Sargent.

All enquiries for Blessington & District Forum can be addressed to:

Ms. Ann Horan,
Secretary,
Blessington & District Forum
c/o Corner House,
Main Street,
Blessington,
Co. Wicklow.
Or by telephone to Michael Sargent 086 244 3640

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