There are over 30 LEADER companies in Ireland and the Rural Development Funds they use in community-led projects are confined to strict territories. However, when neighbouring LEADER companies follow their communities lead and engage in joined-up thinking we get synergy. We have been training and working with community groups in South and East Cork and the SECAD Leader company throughout April and May, adding 20 historic graveyards to the dataset on www.historicgraves.com. On the southwestern fringes of this project our friends in Ballinhassig worked on Ballyheada, Ballinaboy, Goggins Hill and Templemichael - all with links westwards to communities in the Innishannon/Crossbarry area.
Now, with the West Cork Development Partnership, we are working with the Innishannon and Crossbarry communities and gaps are being bridged, links made, networks strengthened. Behind it all the County Council facilitate and monitor through their Heritage Unit and by time the Summer is over we should have over 6 GBs of community-sourced heritage data to share with the local authority. Add this data to the work of the fantastic groups in the Duhallow region of North Cork (http://historicgraves.com/project/historic-graveyards-duhallow-co-cork) not to mind the over 60 sites done in the Ballyhoura Region (many in County Cork).
Community Engagement AND LEADER Organisation AND Private Sector Innovation AND Local Authority Stewardship = Partnership & Synergy.
By time these training projects have been completed we will have engaged with over 60 community groups, adding almost 60 historic graveyards to a heritage tourism and genealogy resource for Cork. And the communities are only starting! This mirrors so much of what was discussed at the Leader Conference in Cork last Thursday (http://goo.gl/DzCgH). This conference outlined a huge opportunity for community-led local development in Ireland in the coming years. We agree with this view because we see everyday that PARTNERSHIP is the key and that when communities engage partnership flows.