Sometimes they come in three’s – the saying goes but this week the team behind the ‘Life’Magazine project held a launch of the new look for the town – a new website for the town, the initial results from the Town Benchmarking Survey AND the fifth edition of the Life Magazine.
A great number of local contributors, community representatives and most importantly of all the subscribing Advertisers – those in the business community who underwrite the €50,000 approximate annual costs; were present at the Carlton Shearwater Hotel this week.
Since its inception in 2001, the magazine has grown and developed from a 36 page magazine with a distribution of 27,000 copies to an average print run of 5,000 (peaking to 37,500 copies 2014 ) thanks to the ongoing support of community organisations and groups who have shown such wonderful support over the years.
Chairman of the BACD Seamus Duffy welcomed the large respresentative crowd – especially welcoming the local elected representatives and the Acting CEO of Galway County Council Kevin Kelly as well as the Cathairleach of the Municipal District Area Council – Cllr Michael Coneelly and Brian Egan Area Manager West of Enterprise Ireland.
Advertising and Circulation Manager Lyn Donnelly gave a very detailed breakdown of the income and costs associated with the project – noting that the magazine enjoyed some 72 advertisers of which some 44 were founding subscribers. She paid tribute to the Transition Year students of Garbally College and the pool of volunteer drivers who ensure that within 3 to 4 hours of a Friday morning over 3,000 households in the town and old urban catchment areas receive their free copy. She also warmly thanked Ken Kelly who undertook the delivery of almost a 1000 copies to all the national schools within a 10 km of town and various nursing homes.
Editor Colm Croffy reviewed the growing on-line and offline readership of the publication with some 40,000 regular on-line readers between issue, Facebook and the blog – allied to the paper readership of some 7,000. This is a huge potential advertising reach for the business community and some 16 new businesses or firms were profiled by the Magazine in the last 12 months.
Sinéad Colleran herself the PR and Office Manager with HSE Community Games then unveiled the new look of the Town’s Official website – www.ballinasloe.ie – which went live this week and aims to place Ballinalsoe, its amenities, events, attractions and businesses professionally and properly on the Google map. Sinéad pointed out that the news and feature content for the Website would come from the Ballinasloe Life Magazine desk – including the bi- monthly events guide.
She pointed out however that the technology allows businesses once registered to divert the user to their own Facebook or website with more tailored information.
Seamus Duffy thanked Sinéad who undertook the build of the new website as a volunteer for her community and thanked the Council for allocating the old town council domain name to B.A.C.D.
The final segment of a very positive community evening was the outline presentation by Chris Wade CEO of People for Places on the Town Benchmarkng Report which saw unprecedented numbers of surveys being administered to the town centre users and indeed over 80% of the business community within the precincts of the town centre.
Chris outlined the results and undertook a question and answer session with the audience who at times had a different view of how aspects of the town were perceived or rated by the shoppers, users and business owners.
There was much to be positive about and in a revealing question and answer session afterwards it was made clear that whilst there was work to be done on the challenges – the foundation for a very successful niche provincial town was all at our feet. The full results of the town benchmarking on-line and footfall and business sentiment surveys will be made available to the community on-line by the end of March .
Chairman Seamus Duffy introduced & thanked Jacinta Divilly, the Town Team facilitator and her town team; who have been tasked with interpreting the data into an agreed issue list to feed into an action plan for community led local revival.
He also thanked Lyn, Colm , the LIFE Reporters including the newest U.L. recruit Zara Hill and all the various contributors , advertisers and volunteers who have combined to make the Magazine the award winning success that it is.
The Ballinasloe Country Market successfully continues to do business in the Town Hall every Friday morning from 9:00 until 1.30
There is a wide range of fresh, home-made produce sold at the market.
The successful market boasts a fine array of local home-made produce ranging from brown bread, fruit scones, cheese scones, Oxford lunch and boiled cider cakes to apple tarts, bake wells, queen cakes and home-made jams; all of which are reasonably priced and freshly made.
A huge amount of free range eggs sell out every week and fantastic seasonal vegetables and flowers can also be purchased.
Craft items available for purchase include Martin Colleran’s wonderful wood crafts, which is just one selection of the craft items available.
Among other stand-out items displayed are Mary Egan’s fascinators and jewellery which can be made to order to co-ordinate with special occasion outfits.
Lots of baby wear gift items such as matinee coats, hats and blankets are also available as well as cards for all occasions to write your personal message on.
New additions to the market include Zara’s handmade soaps which are ideal gifts for any occasion.
Orders for novelty cakes can be taken at any time of the year. Orders for cakes and confectionery are currently being accepted for Communions and Confirmations in April-May
Incredible News for Ballinasloe as Veronica Burke wins her 2nd National All Ireland Title in under 4 weeks!
The ‘GloHealth’ Senior Indoor Championships were held in AIT over the weekend and Veronica Burke from Ballinasloe & District Athletic Club put in another electrifying performance in the Senior Women’s 3K Race Walk.
The young athlete claimed her 2nd National All Ireland Title in under 4 weeks, after once again winning Gold at National level. Veronica also won a National Gold medal in the Junior National Indoor Championships 3k race walk which was held in AIT on January 25th. She knocked over 11 1/2 seconds off her time in under 4 weeks – remarkable!
We would like to offer a huge congratulations to Veronica on behalf of Ballinasloe District & Athletic Club and of course, on bahalf of this great town. It is great to see this truly remarkable athlete retain TWO National Gold medals in just one month – a truly significant achievement!
Veronica is a credit to Ballinasloe and District Athletic Club, who could not be ‘more proud of her representing them both at National and International level’, remarked club PRO Monica McKeon.
It is safe to say that Veronica is an incredible inspiration to all of the town’s young athletes and we wish her well in her future endeavours! Although, it’s unlikely that we won’t be writing about her again in the very near future!
And if this year’s series of ‘The Voice’ is anything to go by, it’s exciting times ahead for the town as not only one, but TWO native contestants have made it through to the battle stages of the singing competition, which will commence on Sunday 22nd evening at 6.30 pm on RTÉ One.
18 year old, Ciara Monaghan and 22 year old, Rónan O’ Healy both impressed this year’s panel of judges when they took to the stage recently to showcase their extraordinary talents.
Hillcrest native and GAA star, Rónan made it through his first blind audition with an unconventional yet catchy rendition of the Bruno Mars classic, ‘The Lazy Song’ that impressed former S Club 7 singer and new member of this year’s judging panel, Rachel Stevens.
In a recent interview by ‘Ballinasloe LIFE’, Rónan remarked,‘Music has always been a big part of my life. However it has only really been in the last 18 months that I have begun to take it seriously. Sport was always my main passion and music was always my hobby on the side’.
However, even though Rónan attended Athlone Community College primarily because they offered Competitive Soccer, music has recently taken centre stage and become a great passion of his.
The talented young man, began playing music at the age of 13, ‘hitting anything in the house that made a sound’ until he was rewarded with his first Sonor drum kit at the age of 15.
‘I always wanted to be a drummer and I had pots and pans made into bits by the time I was 15. I always liked guitar but the fact that I’m left handed made it difficult for me to learn’, added O’ Healy.
Former S Club 7 member, Rachel Stevens was impessed by Rónan’s quirky and innovative performance.
A keen learner, Rónan taught himself how to play the guitar and drums.
‘People never usually know what chords I’m playing and if I am honest, half the time I don’t know what I’m playing either! They sound good though, I think’, joked the local talent.
Rónan always kept playing to himself and admittedly he added, ‘Very few of the lads knew I had such a keen interest in it’.
When asked about his main music influences growing up, the Sound Engineering Student claims his main influence was Noel Gallagher.
‘His guitar playing wouldn’t be by the book either! His brother Liam is also another huge influence. I loved everything about Oasis; the lyrics, the sound and the image. They were the ones who really made me want to pick up a guitar and sing’, expressed the passionate music enthusiast.
Rónan has many talents and singing is only one of them. A sports fanatic, O’ Healy was part of a very successful soccer team in ACC where he won numerous competitions including an impressive Leinster A Title. Rónan also remarked that he is greatly looking forward to ‘getting back playing ball and helping St. Grellans get back up to Senior!’.
Rónan describes his experience on The Voice so far as a ‘nerve wrecking process’.
‘The thing people don’t realise is that the auditions start long before the ones you see on TV! The Blind Auditions are the 4th stage of the auditions! My first audition was way back in August where I had to submit a piece on-line. Thousands and thousands audition but only about 100 get through to the Blind auditions’, revealed Rónan.
O’ Healy added, ‘it is a process that involves a lot of waiting and a lot of trips to Dublin but so far it has been class!’.
Rónan acknowledges the ‘amazing talent in the show this year’ and says that a huge plus for being on the show is the attention it brings.
‘The good outweighs the bad by about 100:1′, joked the 22 year-old.
The talented son of Seán and Margaret O’ Healy is looking forward to writing new music and performing locally in 2015 as part of his new two-piece band, ‘On Rail’, with Neil Harney.
Speaking of this new innovation Rónan said, ‘we only started in early December but we were flat out all Christmas. We played mainly in Athlone in places such as Seán’s Bar, Naughton’s Bar, The Prince, Coosan Tavern, Dan’s Tavern and out in Luker’s Bar in Shannonbridge’.
According to Rónan, On Rail has ‘a great sound’.
‘I play the guitar as well as a foot drum and vocals while Neil Harney plays the box accordion’, describes O’ Healy.
Rónan has received huge attention locally since his début Television appearance on RTÉ one a few weeks back and fondly remarks,
‘I’m lucky to be from a town where there are such incredible musicians. I don’t think people realise the talent we have in this town’.
Rónan advises young musicians who would like to enter a talent show like ‘The Voice’ to go for it and ‘make the jump that many are scared to take. It is tough and it might not always work out but it is better to try something and fail than live with the regret of not trying. Take a chance!’.
MEANWHILE, Glentaun representative Ciara Monaghan has also made it through her blind audtition, earning herself a place on Westlife member Kian Egan’s team of singers.
Stay tuned to RTÉ One on Sunday evenings at 6.30 pm to follow Rónan and Ciara on their journey.
The Next Issue of ‘Ballinasloe LIFE Magazine’ which will feature an exclusive interview with Ciara Monaghan as she describes her experience on the hit TV show and her claim to fame!
Click on the videos below to watch their auditions.
Four members of the Ballinasloe Swimming Club represented Creagh NS at the National Minor School Swimming Championship which was held in the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin on Sunday Feb 8th.
James Mooney got into the final of the U11 boys Breaststroke where he put in a magnificent performance to win a National Silver medal in an extremely close race. He narrowly missed out on the Gold when he was pipped just before the finish line. He also swam well in the U11 boys Freestyle. Well done James.
Tara McKeon & Ruth Dolan both had great swims and made the final in the U11 girls Freestyle final where they came in 9th & 10th place respectively. Ruth also made the final in the U11 girls Backstroke where she finished in 4th place which is a fantastic result. Tara also swam well and made the final in the U11 girls Butterfly where she came 10th.
Ava made the final of the U10 girls Freestyle where she finished in 6th place after an impressive swim.
These are all excellent results for the club and for the town. The standard at the Nationals is exceptionally strong according to club secretary and PRO, Monica McKeon.
‘It is often the case that just making it into the final of the Nationals is a great achievement in itself as it places you in the top 10 in the country in that event’, stated a proud Monica.
The club secretary added, ”A huge congratulations to Tara, Ruth & Ava who should all be proud of their performances in the National Minor School Championship. Also, congratulations to James Mooney in his success in winning a Silver National medal”.
Ballinasloe Swimming Club expect to have more swimmers in the Nationals next year as the club currently has many young swimmers who are capable of achieving this.
It’s very exciting times for the club!
The Connacht Minor School Swimming Championship was held on Saturday January 3rd. 14 very talented young swimmers from Ballinasloe Swimming Club represented 7 National Schools including; Creagh NS, Scoil UI Cheithearnaigh, Kiltormer NS, Menlough NS, Attyrory NS, Duniry NS & Portumna NS.
This years competitors and results:
Kayla McKeon (Creagh NS) competed in the U9 Girls 50m Freestyle & Backstroke and did very well in her first major gala. She received PB’s in both & she knocked nearly 6 1/2 seconds off her Backstroke. She was just 1.34 seconds off the National Minor Schools’ qualifying time in the Backstroke but she will be U9 again next year and I’m sure all going well she will qualify in both.
Gearóid Markham (Kiltormer NS) competed in the U9 Boys Freestyle & Breaststroke. This was his very first gala and he did very well on the day. Well done Gearóid.
Ava McKeon (Creagh NS) put in a fantastic performance in the U10 Girls 50m Freestyle & Butterfly. She won the Gold in the Freestyle with an impressive time of 36.01 in a very close and exciting heat. She also had the fastest time in the Butterfly with the spectacular time of 40.29. However, despite being over 7 seconds ahead of the next swimmer, she was disqualified over something minor, (she moved her arms but not her feet while on the starting blocks before the starting buzzer). This disqualification will prevent her from competing in the Butterfly in the Nationals but we are appealing this decision as we feel it is unnecessarily harsh.
Tani McCormack (Menlough NS) performed well in the U10 Girls Freestyle & Breaststroke despite recovering from a chest infection. She received a PB in the Breaststroke knocking nearly 2 seconds off her previous time. Good job Tani.
Tara McKeon and Ruth Dolan (Creagh NS) both swam exceptionally well in the U11 Girls 50m Freestyle; Tara came 2nd & won a Silver medal with a great time of 34.43 while Ruth came 3rd & got the Bronze with a great time of 34.59. Ruth also received a Bronze medal in the U11 Girls Backstroke after another splendid performance with a fast time of 41.42. Tara put in another impressive performance in the U11 Girls 50m Butterfly coming in 4th position with a brilliant time of 40.82 (despite dealing with a chest infection in the days preceding the gala).
Caoimhe Kennedy (representing Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh) put in two marvellous swims in the U11 Girls Freestyle & Breaststroke. She knocked over 5 seconds off her previous PB in the Freestyle and was just 1.78 seconds off the National Minor Schools qualifying record. She also got a PB in her Breaststroke where she improved her time by nearly 4 1/2 seconds. Well done Caoimhe.
Adam McGreal and James Mooney (Creagh NS) both had a marvelous performance in the U11 Boys Freestyle. Adam came 3rd with a splendid time of 34.52 winning the Bronze while James came in 4th position with a great time of 34.80. James had a brilliant swim the U11 Boys 50m Breaststroke; he came in 2nd position & got a Silver medal with a fantastic time of 45.32. Adam once again swam well in the U11 Boys Backstroke where he made the qualifying time for the Nationals.
Conor Harley (Attyory NS) keeps leaping from strength to strength. He had 2 strong swims in the U11 Boys Individual Medley (4 strokes) & the Breaststroke. He was just over 3 1/2 seconds off the National Minor Schools qualifying time in the IM & he also got a PB in his Breaststroke.Alisha Larkin (Duniry NS) put in a fine performance in both the U12 Girls Freestyle & Breaststroke despite just returning to swimming recently after being out for months after surgery on her toe. She narrowly missed the qualifying time for the National Schools in both strokes by just 2 seconds.
Caoimhe Conroy (Portumna NS) had two fantastic swims at her very first gala. She swam in the U12 Girls Freestyle & Breaststroke & got PB’s in both, she knocked 5 seconds off her Freestyle & nearly 9 seconds off her Breaststroke time. Well done Caoimhe.
Erin Kilkenny (Kiltormer NS) also swam exceptionally well in her first gala. She competed in the U12 Girls Freestyle & Backstroke. She also got PB’s in both knocking an incredible 12 1/2 seconds off her Freestyle & 6 1/2 seconds off her Backstroke. Good job Erin.
Alison Markham (Kiltormer NS) also swam in her first gala. She got PB’s in both the U12 Girls Freestyle & Backstroke. She knocked an astonishing 14 seconds off her Freestyle time & 3 1/2 seconds off her Backstroke. Fantastic Job Alison.
U12 Girls Medley & Freestyle Relays
Tara McKeon, Ruth Dolan, Ava McKeon & Ailbhe Hanrahanall put in an outstanding collective performance in the U12 Girls Medley (four strokes) & Freestyle Relays. They came in 4th position in both. The Freestyle relay was particularly exciting with the girls missing out on a Bronze medal by just 2 seconds. These four girls won Gold in the U10 relay at this event last year, they are all U12 again next year and will be in a strong position to fight for the Gold once again.
U12 Boys Medlay & Freestyle Relays
Adam McGreal, James Mooney, Conor Hogan & Luke Galvin all put in a fine performance in the U12 Boys Medley & Freestyle Relays. The boys came 5th in the Medley Relay & 6th in the Freestyle Relay. They will also be under 12 again next year and will be in a stronger position to fight for a Connacht medal like they received in the U10 Relay event last year.
Best of luck to the following who now go on to represent Creagh school at the National Minor School Championshio which will be held in the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin on February 8th.
Ava McKeon U10 Freestyle (and hopefully Butterfly)
Ruth Dolan U11 Freestyle & Backstroke
Tara McKeon U11 Freestyle & Butterfly
Adam McGreal U11 Freestyle & Backstroke
James Mooney U11 Freestyle & Breaststroke
Well done to everyone from Ballinasloe Swimming Club who competed especially those who are relatively new to swimming, you should all be very proud of yourselves.
The Connacht Secondary Schools Swimming Championship took place in Longford on Sunday January 4th.Rowan Harley who is relatively new to the club represented Garbally College in the U13 100m Freestyle. He put in a very good performance and knocked a fantastic12 seconds off his previous best time to get a new PB. Good job Rowan.
Our other entry was Ethan Moran who represented St Raphael’s, Loughrea. Ethan has really committed himself to swimming this year and never misses a training session. Ethan had 2 fantastic swims in the U15 100m Freestyle & Backstroke. His hard work is definitely paying off as he knocked an incredible 9 seconds of his Freestyle with a time of 1.05.10 which qualifies him for the Irish Division 2 championships later in the season. He knocked a whopping 10 seconds off his Backstroke with a very respectable time of 1.19.94. Well done Ethan!
This second photograph shows two swimmers from Ballinasloe Swimming Club who swam in the Connacht Secondary Schools Swimming Championship which took place in Longford on Sunday January 4th.
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