In 1978, the Government decided to set up a Sports Council to try to encourage people’s participation in sport. They selected the 32 Vocational Education Committees (VECs) which were in place to promote this project and SPORTS ADVISORY BODIES were established.
Due to existing embargoes on recruiting staff at the time, the success of this promotion varied from VEC to VEC, some flourished, but others failed to get off the ground. In Limerick, the Principal of the Municipal Technical Institute was Jerry Burke, a Kerryman, who had a lifelong interest in sport, Athletics, Boxing and was National President of the Community Games shortly before he came to Limerick.
CEO, Muiris O Ceallaigh, tasked him to set up a committee under the City VEC. Representatives of all sporting organisations in the city and county were contacted and a City Sports Advisory Body was established. Over the years, events such as Sports for All Days/Weeks, Fun Runs, specialist promotions such as National Bicycle Days, Walking programmes, Schools’ programmes and even the production of Sports Directories were delivered to encourage participation in sport.
The main emphasis, of course, was SPORT FOR ALL, with its aim to encourage people to participate in sport at all levels. Those who had a history in sport in their youth were also targeted. A campaign was launched to try to get the proposed National Sports Centre to be based in Limerick, . There was fantastic support from the various Chairmen of the Sports Council, Ronnie Delany, Former Commissioner Eamon Doherty, during this time, in addition to the secretariat of the Sports Council.
Sport Service Awards In 1983, Jerry Burke came to the Sports Advisory Body and introduced the concept of a Sports Awards Function, with a difference – the awards would not be for the participants, or sports stars, but those who worked behind the scenes for the benefit of others, i.e. the Unsung Heroes. From 1983 to 2017, over 350 awards were presented and it is testimony to the selection used that many of these people are still involved in a totally voluntary capacity and putting many younger people to shame.
A new concept of the Chairman’s Special Award was then introduced, selected by Jerry himself. These were presented to individuals and/or clubs who had achieved something outstanding. Since Jerry’s untimely death, these awards are now presented and selected by the Chairman of the Limerick Services to Sport Committee.
While these Awards were mainly supported from funding from the Sports Council, additional support was welcomed from John McCloskey of ACC Bank, Jim Upton for the Media Awards, and, at time of his untimely death, the legendary Tim O Brien of Sporting Limerick, was actively seeking a sponsor as he was an avid supporter of the awards.
With the establishment of the Local Sports Partnerships in recent years, they have now taken responsibility for promoting these Awards. In 1986, Limerick City Sports Advisory Body commissioned a Silversmith, based at Ballycasey Craft Centre, Shannon, to create the COSPOIR LOGO in Sterling Silver, and a very limited number were presented.
Subsequently three Gold logos were commissioned. The Limerick Services to Sport Awards are still often called the Cospoir Sports Awards. Over the years since 1983, many of the Awards functions were filmed and 17 of these will now be available.