The Murphy family, Kevin and Robert Foley at the defibrillator box
A rural West Kildare community alert group has taken a tough stance on crime and illegal dumping, while also ensuring the most vulnerable in society feel safe and happy in their homes.
It also set up a life saving defibrillator service ten years ago — long before many of the county's major towns.
Founded in 2005, the pioneering Lullymore Barnaran Drumsru Cappanagrid (LBDC) Community Alert is made up of four townlands — three in Rathangan Parish and one in Allen.
“We have a brilliant text alert system in our area where a designated person has the text alert phone that was purchased by the group. Any suspicious activity in the area can be reported to this person and they circulate this throughout the community,” explained LBDC secretary, Val Cross.
“They also receive messages from garda headquarters in Kildare and Naas, because our area is split between the two districts, and the person with the phone decides if they are relevant to our area, and keeps the community informed.”
Mr Cross said there has been a definite downturn in burglaries and crime in the area in recent years. He believes that people are more alert and keep an eye on what is happening in the locality.
When a medical emergency occurs in the area, which covers about 120 homes, the trained defibrillator first responders swing into action. There has been an average call out of one a year since it was installed.
Mr Cross thanked Kildare County Council and Drehid for the various grants the group received over the years.
“I would also like to thank the Judge family and the staff at Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park for allowing us to host meetings and events, for donating minerals and crisps for the children on the annual walk and art competition. I can't thank them enough,” he said.
The group also looks after the distribution of 18 personal alarms for senior citizens and covers half the cost of the monitoring fees. Mr Cross points out, as of this year, the government will cover the actual initial cost of the unit.
The group also carry out a clean up of the area every April and an art competition is organised at Halloween, which is administered by Maureen McCormack.
A sponsored walk takes place every September to raise funds for the group, and last year it took the route of the old Allen Mass walk lead by Michael Jacob.
Mr Cross is keen to point out the importance of the group in the community and he is eager to hear from all age groups in the area about their views on what the community needs. LBDC also produces an annual newsletter, has a facebook and webpage.
“It's important we look after the most vulnerable in our society and make sure people don't feel isolated or alone,” added Mr Cross.
The winners of last year's art competition were:Robert Foley, Anna Biechele, Darragh Murphy, Logan McCormack, Hugo Furlong, Clare Kavanagh, Emma O'Loughlin, Faye O'Loughlin, Emer Cross and Emily Doyle.