Local Beechlawn Girl and Irish international Beibhinn Parsons has been named Guinness Rugby Writers Women’s Player of the Year after an outstanding breakthrough season where she was instrumental to her team contributing three tries to the team during Irelands' 2020 Six Nations run.
Rising through Ballinasloe Rugby Club Beibhinn became Irelands youngest ever international, earning her first cap at the age of 16 and has her whole career ahead of her still only 19 years old.
“Winning this Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year award is a real ‘pinch me’ moment. To follow in the footsteps of incredible players like Ciara Griffin, Claire Molloy and Sene Naoupu is just incredible! To even be nominated for an award of this calibre has exceeded all my expectations. I would have never considered myself to be in the same bracket of players with those women”, stated an excited Beibhinn.
The Board of the BACD has put together a working group to develop an action plan to make sure that the Ballinasloe and wider community residents are involved with direction of the towns’ development. This plan has three main pillars which build on the strengths that have already been articulated in our detailed strategy submission to the new draft County 5 Year Development Plan, namely :
1. HEALTH – Objective to become the centre of excellence for health.
2. TOURISM – Objective to become a Tourism Hib within the Failte Ireland Hidden Heartlands
3. SMART TOWN – Objective – become a sustainable centre for remote working incorporating the latest available technologies.
As this will be a community wide plan, we are seeking input. If you would like to get involved to help us develop this plan, or even just want email through some ideas for consideration please get in touch at email@example.com
Due to Covid-19 St. Michaels Choir were unable to do their annual Christmas Carols on Main Street. St. so they took their singing online with five members representing the choir taking part.
Anne Jordan, Emma O’Reilly, Eleanor Mc Evoy, John Feely, Johnny Johnston , Michael Mc Cullagh, Sean Og Hurley and Sean Treacy, delivered outstanding festive favourites.
The online programme has had 21,000 people seeing the appeal with 3,600 of those watching the event in its entirety all in aid of Ballinasloe Social Services and Ballinasloe Care and Repair.
The programme can still be viewed on the Ballinasloe Life Facebook page where it was uploaded on December 20, 2020. Raising €3,427 to date you can still donate by giving your donations to Sean Og or Ann Jordan but they will be closing the appeal shortly.
Ballinasloe Town Team are an active project group of BACD that focuses on promoting the development of Ballinasloe and its surrounding areas. They have taken another step on their exciting journey of becoming a sustainable energy community confirming that they have submitted an application to Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland for funding for an Energy Master Plan.
This will allow us to understand the energy demand and supply within the community, to find any renewable energy sources that are available within the town and to create a list of potential projects focusing on energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The EMP funding will provide the costs to hire a consultant to be able to collect local energy data that will cover Desk study research of fuel types, energy systems that the community use and how the energy is spent. The data will be used for energy audits of local buildings and to establish a Building Energy rating baselines on homes within the town.
Statistics provided by BTT has shown that in a population of 4,545 are living in the Level Two Sustainable Energy Community. There are 2,074 houses and 1,562 cars. Spending €1,500 per year on transport and €1,900 per year on home energy, this equates to an average energy spend of €5,573,000 per year within the SEC. Town Teams hope to bring this figure down with the research they have conducted through funding they have applied to SEAI.
For those looking to get involved with Ballinasloe Town Teams or looking for more information, Email Anita Killeen at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also get active updates on Town Teams Facebook Page below:
The last time such a positive reaction was witnessed by so many people to the erection of the annual illuminations was at the Millennium. James Burke was Treasurer of the then Chamber of Commerce: “ The amount of people back then who stopped me in the street to say well done was huge then, the amount of people who loved the new Central European Wooden Tree in the square was positive, but this years reaction has been off the Richter scale “ enthuses James who was again the Business Liaison Officer on the project.
Val Colleran UTAH Proprietor was typical of most in business “ the amount of families who got into cars from villages and parishes – Mountbellew, Killimor, Shannonbridge even New Inn , drove to town and got out with their kids to walk around and enjoy the lights and get their photos taken was unreal , the footfall into our new streets and town centre was huge this December and anything that does that must be supported and encouraged “ , stated Val.
Manager of BACD and Co-ordinator to the Lights Project Lyn Donnelly has been overwhelmed with the amounts of cards, emails, letters, texts that she received both from the general public, but especially those in business who have had a particular tough year.
Anita Tuohy Town Team Co-ordinator was effusive in praise for what she saw was a determined community effort to mark Christmas “ everyone got behind the community fundraising for this project because we could all see the feel good value of it, our new streets deserved new lighting and our project team working and meeting since last February have really proved to all of us – how a united approach to a common need – properly explained can get results “.
Tina Kelly: The Hair Gallery “These lights are the best. The Tree is just A1, lights absolute magic. So many people are talking about how lovely and magical the town is. Cheers to those who have made this happen.”
Tomas Gullane: Gullanes Hotel “It’s uplifting to get such a positive reaction from our customers when we in the hospitality face another lockdown. Congratulations and well done to all who succeeded in making this Christmas operation so successful.
Sean Connolly: “Very well done by all. The Snowman outside my shop must be the most photographed in Ireland. Thanks to James and Liam and everyone else involved – Sean Connolly Butchers.”
The Business Community helped fundraise between their direct Cash Contributions and doing ticket sales in their premises over 51% ie €14,500 with the Community Team of Ticket Sellers and online sales making up the balance of €28,322 the promoters funds for the project. Cllr Evelyn Parsons donated €1,000 from her County Council Training and Seminar allowance and Christmas week the Committee got a huge shock when Tom Mc Keon of Mc Keons Sand and Gravel called to sponsor €1,000 towards the costs.
In our tables produced in the report we have indicated the number of books of tickets sold by the Businesses into Gold, Silver and Bronze with Bronze being at least 2 books, Silver 3 -6 books and Gold 7 plus.
We also list the names of our Community Raffle Sellers who did trojan work in getting locals and workers to support. Especially Therese Dillon and Caroline Layng who between them sold over €3000 worth of tickets!
Tickets were bought on line by a lot of ex pats overseas – Canada, USA, UK, UAE, Thailand & Australia, by Ballinasloe folk who couldn’t make it home but enjoyed seeing the images posted up by so many families and friends as well as the online Video Campaign which had nearly 80,000 viewers – including the final LIVE lucky dip draw with the Town Band on The Square which was watched by 9,000 people!
The surplus generated will be used by the project team towards next year’s running costs with plans already in motion for next years fundraiser, which will hopefully allow the group to expand the lights project again.
Seamus Duffy Chair of the BACD stated “ All of us involved wish to thank the 10 sponsors of the local firms who gave such significant prizes, all the volunteers, all who contributed and sold tickets and especially to Liam Kenny, Matt Kenny, Enda McGrath & James Kenny who put the new challenging set-up and down”.
The Lights Committee / Town Team Project Group were: Anita Killeen, Ahmed Mukhtar, Aisling Dolan, Carmel Greally, Claire Healy, Colm Croffy, Emma Moynihan, Jacinta Divilly, James Burke, Julie Sheridan, Liam Kenny, Renate Kohlman, Seamus Duffy, Shane McNeill, & Val Colleran
Born in Cappatagle, Ballinasloe, Bernadette Rothwell is second youngest of nine children of Bartly and Ellen Monahan, she attended Cappatagle National School followed by five years in the Loreto Boarding School, Navan.
Bernadette then trained as a nurse in the Mater Hospital, Dublin. In her time training as a nurse, she recalls the excitement of her first wages, earning 13 shillings for the month! Bernadette later completed further training in Cardiff, practising in respiratory care.
Bernadette spoke fondly of her husband who she married in 1955: “When I met Alec, he lived with his parents in a beautiful home above the shops with a large garden at the back. Alec’s father had greenhouses with vines, tomatoes and fruit, flowers and veg in Dunlo Street. Mrs Rothwell sold the grapes to Haslam and Mahon in Main Street. Rothwell auctioneers were established in 1896 by Edward Rothwell, Alec’s grandfather."
In her younger days, the town depended very much on the farming community to support its economy. "The land leases in earlier times were for 11 months, a lot less practical than today. The October Fair was a wonderful time to show their stock for sale or exhibit them in competition and their wives their produce likewise. It was a social event that enabled surrounding villages to get together and have fun enjoying all the strangers from everywhere that visited” she recalls.
“The psychiatric hospital provided great employment. Dubarry was ahead of their time with a lot of the workers doing the work in their own homes, just like now. Denis McCarthy from the IDA brought a lot of factories to the town which was an enormous boost for the area”, recounts Bernadette.
She worked with Alec in the auctioneering business, gaining a vast knowledge of the farming land in the area. She represented a lot of farmers in the courts, when the land commission was compulsory taking up their land to ensure they got a fair price for their estates.
Bernadette stated: “I got to know lots of families as they bought, sold, and leased their property. We managed the E.B.S. Building Society for twenty years in Ballinasloe.”
She also was very much involved with Alec in breeding rare breeds of cattle and enjoyed her time showing and attending pure Hererford events around Ireland, UK including a trip to a World event in South Africa.
Bernadette has seen many of the wonderful facilities Ballinasloe has had on offer over the years recalling watching her children ( Mary and Jane ) grow up with the Irish ballet/dancing school in the Parochial Hall next to where they live in Dunlo Hill. Bernadette was able to watch many of the ballet performances at the Hayden’s Hotel.
“It was a wonderful place for all the social outings which took place in the past. The town band are the new occupants of the Parochial Hall and I am so looking forward to hearing music coming from that lovely building again, “ she enthuses.
In their leisure time, Bernadette and her late husband loved cruising on the Shannon. She saw the merit of having access to Ballinasloe from the Shannon for all the tourists. This led to the couple joining the campaign to have the River Suck made navigable . They facilitated the RTÉ camera crews to broadcast the navigable part of the Suck to highlight the blockages preventing its access for the cruisers.
Bernadette had sisters who were involved in Soroptimist groups in Dublin and Hong-Kong. Cepta Connolly was a key figure for the founding the Soroptimist in Ballinasloe and District and came to Bernadette to get involved “ I really enjoyed my engagement with the whole movement - , the mission being to improve the lives of women and girls in general, the idea that women and girls are best placed to know what is required to achieve change and empowerment”.
“The Soroptimists have representation in the United Nations and various other organisations which means if there is something that requires attention regarding the fate of women, we have a say. It is a most enjoyable, educational, and social club to be part of. We organise a public speaking competition each year for secondary school girls with topics related to women’s affairs. One of our local winners, Geraldine Lynagh, is now a newsreader on Virgin TV. It is great to see the future ladies speak so eloquently and with such conviction, the future of Soroptimist in the area is safe hopefully” notes the sprightly Bernadette.
Bernadette played poker with her friends as a young mother which was very sociable and enjoyable. As their lives progressed and became occupied with our families, we retired from it. After retirement, Bernadette reconnected with her friends and the group began their games anew. However, sadly one of their players, Mrs Pat Kelly, was one of the early deaths during this pandemic whose funeral she was not permitted to attend due to restrictions.
Now in retirement, Bernadette has been given time to enjoy her nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, even with Covid-19 but has learned to face time! Bernadette holds a great interest in the world and local politics. “The news channels now are so up to date with the latest happenings it is interesting to watch them, but I do so enjoy getting my copy of Ballinasloe LIFE and going straight for Barry Lally’s pieces which are always wonderful, (Barry was Alec’s Godson! ) “ states Bernadette.
The Soroptomists had an afternoon tea party for their oldest founder in early September last to mark Bernadette’s 90th Birthday and to thank her for her huge contribution to the local movement
Four local people met in Staunton’s Lounge to discuss the revitalisation of the Creagh Community Council, which had become defunct after many years of great work in the advancement of community interest In late October 1997.
Sadly, founding members Louis Finn, Paddy Manton and Kieren Shields have passed away while the fourth person John Molloy, remains active in the committee as chairperson of Creagh Community Development Committee.
70 people attended the inaugural meeting on the 17th of Nov 1997 in the John O Shea Hall which elected a committee and drafted a new Constitution – approved in 1998.
A constitution was drawn up by board members and elected members of the council and the constitution pushes to initiate, support, encourage and monitor the development of the area and represent the community in dealing with statutory bodies and all other agencies in the promotion of common good, promoting the cultural and economic welfare of the whole community and to hold in trust community assets that the council may acquire and to visit agencies in the development of Creagh.
Mindful of it’s objectives – it was one of the founding partners in the establishing the Ballinasloe Area Community Development in 1999 and contributed a sizeable capital grant to secure the purchase of the old St. Endas Hospital complex and providing a nominated Director every year since.
In past years the restoration of five graveyards in Creagh Cemetery in 2013/14 was a huge undertaking by committee member John Molloy and P.J Lenehan, and loyal fellow workers. The CCDC had seen the poor conditions that the cemetery had been placed in and was determined to restore it.
The work involved in the erection of 53 fallen headstones, the restoration of 104 subsided graves and the removal of ivy from 18 headstones. The north and south graveyards were very overgrown while St. Bridgid's hospital graveyard which had closed in 1963 had fallen into disrepair and required a lot of work. The committee had decided to place a crucifix at the east wall of the main graveyard. A very informative Heritage Display Unit, containing a short history of each graveyard, was located at the entrance gate so that visitors could more easily find graves of their loved ones.
The cemetery had been maintained since 2013 by John Molloy, PJ Lenehan and Owen Flynn, a project that demands many hours of dedicated service. The monetary contribution by the people of the parish to the annual cemetery collection in later years is vital to ensuring the proper maintenance of Creagh Cemetery since 2013.
Creagh Paths Project that had been pushed for five years is finalising to fruition when Creagh Council were successful in their application for €100,000 available through the Town & Village Renewal Scheme in 2019. To qualify for the grant, the Community Council were more than obliged to contribute to the scheme in which they paid €12,500 which was matched by Roscommon County Council.
The Council’s representations to Roscommon and Galway County Councils have resulted in the recent installation of desperately needed footpaths and lighting and have gotten in Anthony Cunnane Builders Ltd for the job. Creagh Community Development Council and Roscommon County Council are paying for the sections that stretch from Dubarry – Dolans Centra – Ardcarn Roundabout by the Shannonbridge Road and Galway County Council have financed the rest. These footpaths and lighting have contributed immensely to a safe walkway for walkers, joggers, pushchair and wheelchair users.
The Community Council have pledged that they will continue to ensure that footpaths will be cleared of litter and debris, especially of fallen leaves .in the autumn.
Chairman John Molloy acknowledges their close co – operation with all public representatives “ Our Community Council gives their special thanks to Ex-Senator Maura Hopkins and the teams at Roscommon County and County Galway tand her local Secretary Alan Harney who were instrumental in delivering this project “, states John.
Despite strong representations to HSE and local politicians over the past 10 years regarding the rapid deterioration of St. Bridgid’s hospital, no substantial progress has been made to date.
Creagh Council has advocated the removal of all the additional buildings to the original building; then the impressive front building and the New Building at the northern end of the Compound and the accompanying ground should be put up for sale as one entity. Likewise, the site of the delipidated Nurses Home and attached lands could form a separate sales unit.
CCDC has envisaged it becoming a gated compound comprising of a village concept that would include many different facilities. They believed it would be an attractive prospect to retired people as is the case in England, America, and Australia. Sadly, there appears to be little interest in HSE West becoming actively involved in progressing matters.
They hope to kick off a new project in Spring in which they will push to repair a section of the Bog Walk between Dubarry Factory and Attycorry. This is a beautiful facility all the year round but one small section needs attention , the Council also will make other necessary repairs to the Walk.
The Development Council will clean the Suck Bridge walls which have been reported as an eyesore by the public. The C.C.D.C. is confident that the completion of the footpath and adding lighting to Beagh roundabout will happen in 2021 and Creagh Council is in a good position to be able to contribute to the refurbishment of Beagh roundabout.
As with most voluntary organisations, the committee needs an infusion of younger people who are willing to give of their time to improving their community environment. Creagh’s Council’s policy of keeping Creagh clean and green requires constant attention, something that only can be achieved by the support of every household in the community. Together, the community can succeed.
Chair can be contacted via email email@example.com
Ballinasloe Credit Union located on Mainstreet, has been at the heart of the community for many years, paving the way for financial inclusion, stability and enabling progression in many households.
Credit unions also support local community initiatives and charities because they understand that it is the little things that make the difference. Facing uncertainty in 2021, the community of Ballinasloe can rest assured your Local Credit Union is here to support you.
Many within the community have had their world turned upside down and some continue to experience financial difficulties due to changed circumstances. Launching a new mobile app, Ballinasloe Credit Union now allows you to do everything all from your phone and remains committed to supporting and engaging with members.
Credit Union Chairperson Marian Brady stated “We are proud to be part of a movement that is regarded so highly across the country. Our dedicated staff and volunteers genuinely care about what our members want, and this is why we have consistently tailored our services and products to our members’ specific needs, so we are looking forward to rolling out some new products and services in 2021.”
The Credit Union is launching a new current account this year, “It means Credit Union members will now be able to get a competitive Current Account from their trusted Credit Union. They will no longer need to go to a bank to get this service. Members using the current account facility will have access to a globally accepted Mastercard Debit Card offering contactless payments, standing orders, direct debits, and an overdraft facility” explains CEO Grainne Murphy
Shane Mc Neill , Business Development Manager at BCU acknowledged: “Even before the pandemic, there were already major shifts in credit union members’ demands. While members still want the personal and reliable service that credit unions provide, their needs have changed with their circumstances; they now also want mortgages, small business loans, and other specialised financial products.”
The Credit Union successfully launched a specialised farming loan in 2018 and following on from the success of this product they have launched two business loan products in 2020.
In the coming months they look forward to be able to offer mortgage facilities to their members looking to buy their first home. The Credit Union is constantly evolving and developing services for their members and community.
Today, investing in new technology and processes is essential. Shortly, the credit union will be launching a new digital platform to facilitate online loan applications and new members onboarding, meaning from the comfort of your home you can join and apply for a loan.
BCU has forged a strong bond with members and indeed the wider community. This is not just because of their commitment to the provision of member-driven, not-for-profit savings and loan services, but also due to a programme of sponsorship and donations to local sporting clubs, youth initiatives and charities.
The Credit Union is currently finalising its Virtual AGM which is scheduled to take place online in March 2021. Members will shortly receive their copy of the financial reports and login procedures for the forthcoming AGM in the post.
For more information on all the services and products visit their website;
www.ballinasloecreditunion.com email firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel 0909643179
Ballinasloe Library launch the Home Energy Saving kits for Galway libraries and Europe Direct.
The new kit aims to help householders make sense of the energy they use every day. These kits contain six practical energy-saving tools so that you can carry out a mini energy audit of your home and find the easiest and most important areas to save energy.
According to Codema, Dublin’s Energy Agency, you can reduce your energy bill by up to 20% while improving the comfort of your home and helping contribute to a better environment at the same time. The tools in the kit are easy-to-use and they provide an interactive and tangible way to introduce the concept of energy usage into your home. The Home Energy Kit is a winner of an EU Sustainable Energy Award.
The Home Energy Saving Kit contains a fridge and freezer thermometer, a temperature and humidity, thermal leak detector, a plug-in energy monitor, radiator key, and a stopwatch.
Worksheet forms are also included alongside a Home Energy Saving Kit Manual so you can keep a record of your results and compare them to your past results. Upon completing the surveys, the forms will be entered into a weekly draw for a chance to win €100. The Home Energy Saving Kits will be available for loan from five libraries across Galway with another five coming on stream later this year.
The Library also provided an online class titled ‘An Introduction to Contemplative Dance’ which took place on January 21, as part of the First Fortnight Festival.
It took place right before midday and was conducted by Bernadette Divilly, a professional member of Dance Ireland, and hosted Ballinasloe Women’s Group. The tutorials were distributed through the library online in conjunction with online classes. Bernadette engages with a cohort of peers who have practised with working the body across disciplines. These dance tutorials focused on mindful movement and the enjoyment for all those who had participated.
The Library due to covid-19 regulations must remain closed until further notice, however, via the libraries online service you can easily access a range of E-books and Audiobooks, magazines, newspapers, and much more through the mobile app borrow box where you can borrow up to four e-books or audiobooks on your mobile phone, tablet or computer online at any time using your library card’s ID number and pin.
Lastly, should you have any library books at home you do not need to worry as there are no fines for late returns at this current moment so you can return the book when the libraries reopen.
Martina Doherty, mother of well-known International Composer Amie Doherty, recently won the Bands of Ireland Award 2020 for her work with Ballinasloe Town Band.
Nominated for the award by Band Chairperson Damien O’Neachtain, Brackernagh based Martina has undertaken a huge role in the organisation, being the child welfare officer but also spearheading most fundraiser projects.
She has also put countless hours into the refurbishing the old patriarchal hall. Organising all the works on the hall and without Martina, the Town Band would not be what it is today.
Chair Damien O'Neachtain was one of many to nominate Martina stating: "we wish to recognise the huge contribution that she makes to the Ballinasloe Town Band. The band was revived after a long break 4-5 years ago and Martina was one of the driving forces to get the band back together again."
As one of only 3 Brass and Reed bands in the County they were invited to play at the Tuam Mothers & Babies site, during a memorial Christmas tree & prayer service to commemorate the little ones that were buried there. It was a poignant occasion that proved very emotional for both family members and musicians alike.
The musicians also had the pleasure of participating in a recital under the shadow of the new Town Christmas tree, to spread some seasonal cheer to passing shoppers. Undeterred by the wet and windy weather conditions, weekend visits to the exterior grounds of the nursing homes in the town saw the Band safely delivering an early Christmas musical treat to the residents and staff.
As a special tribute to the heroic and selfless dedication and service frontline workers during the Covid-19 Pandemic, the band conducted a special night-time recital in the front car park of Portiuncula Hospital. The Band, each one sporting colourful fairy lights to lighten the mood and brighten the occasion and were thrilled by the reception they received.
The Band concluded its Christmas programme of public engagements playing a selection of festive Carols in St Michaels Square before the draw for prizes for the Christmas Lights fundraiser. The performance was broadcast through the Life Magazine Fbook page and was viewed by almost 9000 people – at home and abroad.
The planned New Year’s Eve recital was ditched thanks to COVID and the band has recommenced zoom rehearsals for both the junior and senior bands until further notice.
The scaffolding at the Town Band Hall (Parochial Hall) on Dunlo Hill, has been removed indicating that the roof has been repaired.
Chair Damien O Neachtain has extended their thanks to the hundreds of supporters who purchased slate costing €50 each thus enabling the band to complete this phase of its restoration. The “Raise the Roof” campaign will now conclude with only a small number of slates remaining to be sold Anyone that wishes to purchase a slate for €50 please contact Martina on 087 9710496.
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