Volunteer Ireland
Connecting Communities Through Volunteering

Arts, Culture and Festivals Awardees 2020

We are so proud to announce this years winners in the Arts, Culture & Festivals Category. This year we are celebrating three outstanding volunteers in each category.

Read each of their inspiring stories below.

Helena Clarke, Glenamaddy Boyounagh Heritage, Galway

Helena has been volunteering with the Glenamaddy Boyounagh Heritage Project for seven years now, making a major contribution during her time there. Helena has been instrumental in the collation and organisation of details of families from 62 townlands since the census of 1901. The information is accessible and easy to find within the town organisation thanks to Helena.

Her tireless efforts in collating information helped the group publish their first book “Glenamaddy Boyounagh: Our People – Our Heritage”. With very limited funds, the group are endeavouring to provide a historical and cultural resource/service for the local community. Following the publication of the book, Helena continues to give of her time inputting information into the heritage database which it is hoped will provide a historical background for past and present generations.

Kara Richards, Athlone Community Radio 88.4FM, Westmeath

Kara is the Presenter of Music on 88.4FM LiveWires Show, the only dedicated arts programme for local and new music in the area. She does all her own research so that she can encourage and promote musically talented people who may not have got the opportunity to be heard on radio, by interviewing them, recording them live, producing the show and then presenting them to the world of radio waves and the media.

Kara has taken on pivotal roles in organising audio concerts that have gone viral throughout her time with ACR 88.4FM. Kara set up a fundraiser in May called ‘Headrow Jam’ bringing over 40 local musicians together with a common goal to record their music and voices and present new community talent to the airwaves. This had an enormous response locally and was a great fundraiser for the radio station.

Kara’s innovation of working with new and unknown musicians is remarkable. Her thirst for others to succeed is palpable. Her show on Athlone Community Radio – ‘LiveWires’ also has its own Social Media group, run by Kara as a platform for more than 100 local musicians and artists to communicate and learn.

Olive Murphy, Scaleforce, Louth

Olive set up Scaleforce because she could see the need for adults to connect or reconnect to playing musical instruments but did not want finances to be a barrier. She also could see that connecting people through music could be a great social outlet for people and that formal music lessons or settings may take the joy out of the music for people so she has created a unique group encouraging adults to take up playing traditional music that is very inclusive with people of all ages and abilities participating.They now have over 20 members who have become lifelong friends even though their paths may have never crossed in normal life.

Up to March 2020 Scaleforce met every Wednesday evening in a local bar. It was very relaxed and if you showed up great and if you did not fine. Olive recognised when COVID-19 restrictions started some of the members were really going to feel at a loss. At the end of March, she livestreamed a session on their private Facebook group at their usual meeting time and was amazed when everyone attended (virtually). Since then she hosts a weekly session over zoom and even uses her phone to call members who have internet issues or difficulties logging in so that they can hear everything and play a tune with the other members.

She has only missed 2 nights since March and for many members, particularly older members, this social outlet has been a lifeline for them. In fact, it has been a lifeline home for some – one member who lives in Canada and normally comes home to Dundalk during the summer months felt that she kept that connection through the group and attending the weekly sessions.