Westport. Photo: Christian McLeod/Failte Ireland

Westport scoops €5,000 digital town business award

Westport has been selected as runner-up in the Digital Business category at the second annual .IE Digital Town Awards 2022.

The result was announced at a virtual awards ceremony attended by Minister Damien English, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The .IE Digital Town Awards were established in 2021 by .IE, the managers of Ireland’s trusted online .ie address.

The awards recognise local town and community projects and the people that are using digital innovation, technologies, and digital-first thinking for the betterment of towns, citizens, and services in the community.

As runner up in the Digital Business category, Westport’s ‘Where no Westport business gets left behind’ won a total prize of €5,000 in recognition for working closely with a new e-commerce platform designed to support local business and connect communities.

Piltown in Co. Kilkenny was announced as the overall winner with the judging panel commending the community for its “extraordinary resolve and determination in putting their town on the digital map.” It involved landowners granting access to land and volunteers working to lay more than 6km of cables, training as fibre optic technicians and providing crucial expertise pro bono.

Piltown is believed to be Ireland’s first community owned and managed FTTP ‘fibre to the premises’ network and has resulted in the creation of a local digital hub and community centre that serves 37 groups in the area. The team behind the project believe that its success could be replicated in other towns and communities through shared experience and learnings.

This year’s awards had a focus on communities and digital leaders that have adopted new ways of thinking to enhance localities through innovative use of digital tools to provide digital equity in the community, close the digital divide, facilitate emergency response, improve digital infrastructure, and enable digitisation of culture and oral traditions.

Projects were shortlisted in the categories of digital education, digital tourism, community digital as well as digital business, while three special prizes honouring individuals and communities making significant difference to the digital betterment in local towns were also awarded under the categories of digital rising star, digital changemaker and digital local hero.

Congratulating the high calibre of entries, Minister English said: “The awards are an important annual event that recognise the remarkable efforts made by our local digital champions who are determined to futureproof the places where they work, rest and play.

"The bar this year has been set exceptionally high, with many inspiring examples of digital leaders in our communities that are transforming local life and society in innovative and creative ways.”

There was a total prize fund of €100,000 across seven award categories. 13 counties had one or more project nominated including Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Kilkenny, Kerry, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon, and Sligo.

The full list of category winners and runners up includes:

Community Digital, sponsored by Western Development Commission

Winner – Crumlin: Connecting Crumlin’s Community. (Prize: €9,000)

Runner up – Limerick: Tiny Little Histories. (Prize: €5,000)

Commended – East Galway: Galway Wild Geese. (Prize: €2,000)

Commended – Castleisland: Castleisland Market Town: A New Digital Age (Prize: €2,000)

Digital Education

Winner – Sligo: Online Learning Project Manager. (Prize: €9,000)

Runner up – Murroe: Scoutus Interruptus: How Digital Technology Helped Keep Us Scouting Through the Time of Covid. (Prize: €5,000)

Digital Tourism, sponsored by AIB Merchant Services

Winner – Gleann Cholm Cille: Building a digital cultural infrastructure for our community. (Prize: €9,000)

Runner up – Ballyvaughan: Linking the physical and digital worlds via interactive signage. (Prize: €5,000)

Commended – Ballincollig: Ballincollig Gunpowder Mills: Mobile Phone App. (Prize: €2,000)

Digital Business, sponsored by Vodafone

Winner – Piltown: Taking Charge of our Digital Future. (Prize: €9,000)

Runner up – Westport: Where no Westport business gets left behind. (Prize: €5,000)

Digital Rising Star

Winner – Cootehill: The cusp of something truly useful, unifying, and expansive for the locality. (Prize: €8,500)

Digital Changemaker, sponsored by Connected Hubs

Winner – Roscommon Town: Roscommon Rapid Response Team. (Prize: €8,500)

Digital Local Hero

Eoin Costello, Dún Laoghaire Town. (Prize: €3,000)

Overall winner

Piltown, Taking Charge of our Digital Future (Prize: €10,000)