The Dublin City Good Citizen Awards ceremony took place in the Mansion House on the 18th May 2016. The awards acknowledge and celebrate the contribution made to Dublin city by countless hidden heroes of everyday life. Over the coming weeks, we’re presenting a profile of the winners who stood out in making a big difference to the lives of others.

Liz O’Connor – Children & Youth Category

I’m Liz O’Connor, and I’m a youth and community activist. Why have I been nominated for this award? I haven’t a clue. I was hoping you’d tell me!

I run a breakfast club and an after school club here in The Liberties. We also have older people coming in the afternoon for a cup of tea and a chat. And we run a summer camp. We get food donated from people around the country, and we distribute it to all the groups in the area. We assist people in whatever way we can.

There’s a great sense of community here in The Liberties. The Legion Of Mary have allowed us to use their hall on Francis Street since 2013, because our old building closed down and we had nowhere to go. We’re better off here, bang in the middle of everything. We give people a hand.

I just love working with children, I’ve been working with them for 20-odd years now, so I suppose you could say it’s my calling. The kids are great. You see all the different personalities, see them grow up and settle down, and now their kids are coming here. You just keep going.

The most important part of the job is just being here, and people knowing that you’re here if they need you. If they’re worried about something, they can come in and have a chat, and we can try to advise them, put them in the right places with the right people. You get all walks of life coming along. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. Everyone’s welcome.

0062-GoodCitizen-01-2016-880x600

Winner Liz O’Connor with former Lord Mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh and Councillor Mary Freehill

I’m from just down the road, the Oliver Bond, born and reared. The Liberties hasn’t changed. The people keep it strong. We survived all the cutbacks, we don’t get any funding, we’re self-sufficient – we depend on local businesses, the neighbours and the Gardaí. The local guards are very kind to us. I’ve always said that you don’t need money to keep kids going, and we’ve proved it. We’re very lucky, we don’t have overheads, we have a lot of volunteers, we’re well covered.

I was shocked when I heard I’d been nominated for the Good Citizen awards. I don’t like being put out the front for anything. I think that’s why they nominated me – to torment me (laughs). We work as a team here. I couldn’t do this on my own. It’s for everyone.

What would I do if I won? I’d probably go through the floor (laughs).

Liz won the Dublin City Good Citizen Award in the Children & Youth Category. This category recognises those whose work has a positive impact on the lives of children and young people.

Dublin Voices: My Life In Dublin Parks

The other night, driving through the Phoenix Park, I remembered. Remembered what it is I love most about Dublin. Sometimes, it’s tough to retrieve all the good things about your native city – particularly when you’re surrounded by the aftermath of a general election, the consciousness of all those things that the city gets wrong, the awareness that so much about Dublin can be challenging. But on a lovely spring evening – the first, after a dismal, murky winter – the Phoenix Park unrolled itself in all its green, luscious glory.

Read More

Meet a Dubliner – Hassan Lemtouni, Café Owner

I was born and raised in Morocco, and lived for 30 years in America before coming to Dublin. My wife is a Dubliner, and we have 2 beautiful little girls, and we decided that we wanted them to grow up here. I was lucky enough to step into this beautiful building, The Chocolate Factory on Kings Inn Street, and that opened up a whole new avenue for me, professionally. One of my business partners was looking for a place to put on a gig, and met Val, who runs the building; we started talking about food, and what we’d like to do, and decided to go for it. It took us about a year and a half, but

Read More

Good Citizen #2: Esther McGrath

I’m Esther McGrath, I live in Donnybrook, and I’m a member of the Beech Hill Community Group. I do some volunteering with the elderly in the area. I visit the elderly, and do their shopping for them. With a lot of people, their family live away from them, so I drop in and see if they’re all right, especially if they’re housebound. For ten years, we’ve been doing an elderly shopping trip on a Friday afternoon, a bunch of volunteers drive them there and back. I think people appreciate it. I do voluntary bingo for the senior citizens, too. I think quite a few of them nominated me. Why do I do what I do? Because I enjoy it. In my time, I’ve seen a lot of cutbacks in home help, so you try to fill that gap as much as you can - be it doing a bit of washing, bringing the dog for a walk, or making sure their milk doesn’t go sour. People have learned to trust me over the years.

Read More