Ballinasloe Town Hall Theatre AGM
The AGM took place for Ballinasloe Town Hall Theatre, highlighting the many achievements over the past year. The new committee were elected to serve were Máire Hughes, Frances Leahy, Aoife Vaughan, Alan Harney, Elaine O’Hanlon, Mary Barber, Ben Parker, Noel Lohan & Alison Greene.
Gerry Sweeney, who has been a member of the Committee and Director of the Company to the Building since its formation, stepped down. He was the last serving original member of the original group that acquired the lease from the Church Authorities which has 23 years left to run.
Chair noted his experience and expertise will be greatly missed. His wealth of knowledge on the history of the Hall is second to none, and all congratulated him on his service.
Máire Hughes detailed all of the incredible work undertaken by the Committee over the course of the year: 17 official meetings were held, fundraising events took place, grant aid was secured, much was achieved within the Hall. The Theatre was host to many productions, dance classes, cinema screenings, recordings and various rehearsals throughout the year, culminating with the very successful PANTO “Cinderella” production last December.
Much work went into the clearing and refurbishment of office spaces to the front of the building with particular gratitude being paid to Gerry Maloney and members of the CE Scheme for their involvement. This reorganisation allowed the group to rent office space from July to December. There are still several rooms available for short- and medium-term rental and anyone interested can contact Michael McCullagh at (090) 964 9939.
Accountant James Coyle gave a detailed overview of the Theatre’s finances, detailing all income and expenditure. He highlighted that the figures shared covered the accounting year March 2021 to March 2022, resulting in a net surplus of over €9k which was up from a deficit of €4k for the previous 12 months. He emphasised the finances were in a good position showing income at €50,249 and Expenses at €38,909 considering that the Theatre was restricted with the pandemic.
The Community Centres Investment Fund application was successful just before Christmas, and the Theatre is to be awarded a total of €251,900 in funding. Earmarked to replace all existing windows with double glazed sash windows, replace the doors and repair a portion of the stonework. In addition a portion of this grant will be used to update the Theatre’s lighting system to modern LEDs. The Committee confirmed that a Project Manager would be engaged to oversee this huge investment in the future fabric of the building – as it is the largest successful grant ever awarded to the ongoing development.
As part of a matched funding element to this grant, they will be launching their “Buy a Pane of Glass” campaign in the coming weeks to raise the necessary finances. - keep an eye out for this and consider donating.
Sympathies were expressed at the meeting to the families of the late Clare Curley and Eugene Ward – who were stalwart supporters of the Theatre.
“We’d like to thanks the townspeople who continue to support us, Linda Cummins and Tus, Patricia Kelly and Karyn Gavin in GRD, Mary Mc Gann and indeed Sharon Duffy Arts Officer at Galway County Council, as well all of our wonderful hard working volunteers “, concluded Máire.
If you would like to become involved with the Theatre, they can be contacted via the Ballinasloe Town Hall Theatre Facebook and Instagram accounts, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ballinasloe Social Services received a grant of €80,000 as part of a new Community Centre’s Fund founded by Minister Heather Humphreys T.D. ; a key focus in government strategy to invest in community centres and halls across Galway.
The Social Services hope to use this funding to install new solar panels, windows and doors, an electrical system, a stove, and an upgrade to their meeting rooms. These improvements will be installed on the premises within the old building and the new extension constructed in 1986.
This exchequer funding will aid the 50 year old organisation to reduce heavy utility costs, allowing them to invest in services which aid the elderly and vulnerable.
As the organisation only receives partial grant funding by the government, this new allocation will also benefit the ongoing costs for running the services. Additionally, the team hope to upgrade the pre-school garden on the premises, having received a grant of €30,324 from the Late Late Toy Appeal in 2021 to improve the quality and safety of the play area.
Ballinasloe Social Services are a group dedicated to improve the lives of the elderly, physically disabled and people in need within our town and hinterland. The organization recently celebrated their 50th anniversary and hopes to continue supplying resources to aid their clients.
Volunteers assisting with the charity provide many of the services including regular day care, food deliveries through Meals on Wheels, and assistance for kids via the childcare facility. There has been an increased demand for aid within the town, with many people requiring social needs due to the isolation caused by the pandemic.
The group continues their ongoing fundraising with monthly raffles where participants can enter a draw to win amounts of €100. Critically, the organization received support from the Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre with a Christmas Jumper Appeal which raised €400 for Ballinasloe Social Services . Furthermore, the social service can be supported by their donation page at www.ballinasloesocialservices.ie.
Director of Services Teresa Coughlan is very appreciative of the aid provided to the group by our town: “Without the people of Ballinasloe, we wouldn’t be here today. They have given so much to us over the years in the form of financial assistance with fundraising and donations, as well as with volunteers”.
If you are interest in the services the organization provides or if you would like to join their membership scheme, the group can be contacted at (090) 964 3217.
First Woman Sabina Higgins officially launched the Galway Public Libraries Decade of Centenaries Programme at Ballinasloe Library
First Woman Sabina Higgins officially launched the Galway Public Libraries Decade of Centenaries Programme.
As part of the Decade of Centenaries Programme Galway Public Libraries developed two projects which have been running during 2021 – 2022.
'A Dialogue through Poetry and Music' is a collaboration between five poets and musicians who were commissioned to create new poetry and musical works on the theme of 1921. Participating poets
included Emily Cullen, Louis de Paor, Luke Morgan, Noelle Lynskey and Nuala O’Connor. They were joined by musicians Ciaran Cannon, Dana Lyn, Ger Fahy, Emily Greaney with Tomás and Róisín Mannion.
'Artists & Activists: 1922 Women in a Changing Cultural Landscape' highlighted the role of women as artists and creatives in the early twentieth century by showcasing the contributions of specific women who revolutionized Irish art including ‘domestic’ art pieces such as weaving, embroidery and clothing.
The project included 4 commissions covering the fields of music, song, dance, and craft.
Find out more by visiting Ballinasloe Library on Facebook!
Ahascragh Distillery’s three Massive copper pot stills made their way from Forsyths in Scotland to Ahascragh, now sit behind the distillery’s large window in the heart of the village.
Installation of the bespoke modern equipment is currently underway, with commissioning beginning in the coming weeks with plans for first distillation in early 2023.
These copper stills will enable founders Gareth and Michelle McAllister to distil some of the first zero-emission spirits in Ireland and change the traditional energy source for Irish whiskey production.
Ahascragh distillery will be an all-electric distillery using 100% renewable energy, with 70% coming from wind farms and 30% generated on-site through solar panels and hydro wheels in the mill race.
Distillation is a highly energy intensive process, traditionally using fossil fuels or gas to generate the needed thermal loading. No fossil fuels or gas on will be burned on site, but instead will use high temperature heat pumps and an efficient energy storage system to produce their spirits. The technology and design has been validated and supported by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s EXEED programme, aimed at organisations who are planning an energy efficient investment project.
Cáit Baxter has been introduced as Distillery Manager, coming from the team at Dingle Distillery, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role. She is looking forward to overseeing the commissioning process and leading the first distillation in the coming months.
A new series of short films “Distillery Diaries” explores Ahascragh distillery’s journey to making whiskey history in the West of Ireland. The films have highlighted work by local contractors and tradesmen, key milestones, and behind the scenes features. The most recent film is a look back at the past 12 months of construction and progress with founders Gareth and Michelle McAllister.
In the fourth edition of the Distillery Diaries series, Michelle McAllister highlights her interest in restoring the Ahascragh warehouse: “When I first saw the building, I knew it had a story to tell. I knew that there was a lot more it had to give. I think we all rush to build new and forget about our past and forget about the beautiful structures that we have built in years gone by.”
Last year, their whiskey and gin won many international awards including the International Wine and Spirits Competition, World Gin Awards, The Spirit Masters, The Design and Packaging Masters and The Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards. Most notably, their product Clan Colla 20 Pedro Ximénez won a gold medal at the Irish Whiskey Awards, and Xin Gin was named the best in Ireland at The Gin Guide Awards.
The Family Bond releases are available to buy in Carry out and Grenham’s off license in Ballinasloe, and to taste in bars and restaurants across town, Galway and beyond.
Farewell to Jim Burke
A Key Town businessman and one of Clifden’s proudest sons passed away at his residence in Kilgarave on the 3rd of January. One of eight children, Jim was born to master tailors in 1932. Like many of the time, at 17 he left home to find work, joining his father in London, to support the family back home.
He found more than work though, meeting the love of his life, Margaret, at a dancehall in 1954, before quickly tying the knot on 16th April 1955. They settled into married life in Manchester, having 6 kids in 7 years before answering the call to return home to Ireland.
Talented entrepreneurs, they opened Re-New-It Dry Cleaners on Dunlo St in 1969 and spent the next few decades establishing it as one of the most reliable and professional services in town and themselves as respected pillars of the community.
Never without his signature full suit and tie, Jim loved betting horses and winding down with a pint or 4 of Guinness in his corner of Declan Eagan’s Pub (previously Oliver’s and later Brewery Lane),regaling friends and visitors with his tall, often unbelievable tales, and if you were really lucky, a song or two – The Forty Shades of Green and Galway Shawl being his go-to favorites.
He and his beloved Margaret retired in the early 1990s and dedicated the rest of their years to travel, especially to California where 4 of their 6 children and their families now live. Trips around Europe, to Mexico, Las Vegas, New York, Alaska, Washington D.C., and of course to San Francisco filled their years with so much laughter, incredible friends, and immense amounts of love.
They loved their months in the sunshine and spending countless hours getting to know their Yankee grandkids. Jim could often be found soaking up the sun in the back yard before heading down to his “abroad local” Fiddlers Green in Millbrae, CA, where he had his very own corner and a pint or 4 of Coors Light, his holiday drink of choice.
Genial Jim Burke was larger than life –he never met a stranger, walked like he owned every street in whatever country he was in – his marble-topped cane adding even more gravitas to his already impressive silhouette – and met many world leaders, including US Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to name a few, he loved their parties where often he knew more the guests than they did!
Jim lived life to the fullest and so perfectly embodied his personal catchphrase, “When you’re out, you’re out.” Though he will be greatly missed, the knowledge of Jim reuniting with his beloved Margaret brings much comfort to his family and friends.
To his sister Teda in Manchester, his children and their partners in Ballinasloe & California, Reita, Frances, Catherine, James, Caroline, and John, his 11 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren, and countless beloved nieces, nephews, and friends we offer our sympathies .
The Ballinasloe and District Athletics Club are back to training for the upcoming season, with children eagerly coming to sessions every week. The runners are making great use of the facilities at the Dunlo Running Track and continue to practise for upcoming tournaments. The club will be participating in the Galway Indoor Competition hoping to give some encouraging displays.
The group practises every Tuesday and Thursdays from 6pm until 7pm. Although members are free to attend one day a week if they are only available for that session, Club Secretary Yvonne Fehily encourages people to attend both periods to become a better athlete. The annual fee to join the organisation is €70 for one child, €130 for two, and €180 for three. Children from 8 years old are allowed to join, and can be contacted at (087) 138 7117 if you want your child to become a member.
At a recent AGM, the club elected a new committee for the year ahead. The recently appointed officers for the group include John Donnelly as Chairman and Coach, Dawn Slevin as PRO, Yvonne Fehily acting as Secretary and Coach, Sarah Loughnane as Child Welfare Officer and Rhona Jennings as Treasurer and Coach.
The club are also looking for new coaches to assist the crew in training the young competitors. The only trait the group are looking for in trainers is an interest in the sport, with athletic experience not being fully required. Coaches will be expected to instruct both juveniles and adults, providing a valuable experience which will carry onto other jobs. The club pays for these training sessions, providing an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in teaching these sports.
PRO Dawn Slevin spoke highly of the current group members and encouraged more to join saying: “without our fantastic coaches and helpers our organisation wouldn't be the amazing club it is, and we are always looking for people to come and join in on the coaching experience with us, so if you are looking for something new and fun to do this year why not become a coach with our club. Get in touch today to email@example.com.”
In sport it often happens that the offspring of gifted athletes go on and do sometimes even better than the previous generation as it appears with Gort’s Cliona Darcy – Irelands First World Youth Heavy Weight Title Holder.
Her Dad, Poolboy’s Ritchie Darcy, was a gifted all round athlete in his youth - Community Games, hurling, football, rugby but especially in boxing – he made his mark.
Growing up with parents Betty and Paddy ; he remembers the new boxing club arriving to town after the Polish Pontiff’s visit and the long evenings in the top floor of the Emerald. "I was only 9 when I started and we had some wonderfully committed coaches – the late Tom Watters, Buddy Donnellan and of course Frankie Walsh”, he recalls.
They might have been influential but they had material to work with – the 57kg youngster won 3 consecutive Connacht and National Titles in the mid 80s .
Ritchie left Garbally after his formal education, went to the UK for a few years and came back some 30 years later to purchase and operate a bar – Dicey Reillys in the neighbouring town of Gort in 1993.
He brought his wife Dawn with him and they reared a family of three – Cian 29, Darragh 25 and of course Cliona 17.
He himself threw himself into the business and rearing his kids but in 2004 James Fahey of Peterswell and few others in the South Galway hinterland came together and founded the Tobair Pheadair Boxing Club.
He became a volunteer, mentor and then coach and got his two eldest lads interested in the sport . Within a few short seasons – he was ferrying them along with other members to different tournaments and sparing events with a newfound toddler baby sister in tow.
“I grew up in the back of the car or around a boxing ring or gyms – following Dad, Cian and Darragh all around the West and Mid-West”, laughs the current World Youth Heavy Weight Champion Cliona.
The two lads were nearing the end of national school or starting secondary and before they knew it Darragh had won County and Connacht Titles and an Irish Championship.
While Ritchie might have taken a break from the sport for over 20 years – some of the tricks he was taught in the Emerald in the 80's came in handy as Cliona had no formal training, sparring or coaching for most of the two years of Covid-19. During the lockdowns it was just her and her Dad – coach, mentor and sparing partner.
Early days were Pure Mule she recalls – “ there was just me and Sophie Burke – two girls out of 50 lads , 3 club night training sessions a week – all the running, sprints and sparing – with the boys and of course our coach Ronan Kelly.”
To put her achievements in context there are just four boxing clubs in Galway county – and there are very few female boxers, Cliona regularly has to go to Castlebar for sparring sessions. She also was invited to the Irish International Boxing Camp in Edenderry under the tutorship of Liam Brierton.
She has like her Dad, dabbled in other sports in the Gort Community School where she is a popular leaving cert student, including team sports Camogie – where she excelled as a full back and especially Basketball – which she really enjoys as a forward.
“I’d encourage every young girl to try every sport once, - the individual and the team – if you're interested in a particular one just go with your gut “, she urges.
For Cliona – she is fairly cool about her pre-tournament build up “lots of running, gym and a very strict diet regime are what give me the focus on the way into a bout.” she notes.
She is coy about what puts her in the zone prior to getting into the ring but she does admit that she listens to a lot of Dubliner Luke Kelly’s upbeat music before the fights.
Even with 7 National Youth titles under her belt and the historic first Irish World at her grade she is committed to defence of her title as she is still under age next year and she is not neglecting he books , with her eye firmly on an educational career post leaving cert.
Cliona definitely has a long career and bright future ahead of her, but she says she’s taking it step-by-step. “For now, I want to stay amateur. I’m taking one step at a time. The Olympics would be a big goal but baby steps first.” she cautions.
While the Irish Athletics Boxing Association have been very good to Cliona – in sponsoring all her travel and attendance to Training and High-Performance Camps as well as the International Tournaments she still have to have a few loyal sponsors in her corner.
Luckily for her Whyte Security, Casey’s Sports Bar Birmingham and Murray and Co. Birmingham have been very supportive of her journey so far.
Final word to Ritchie however “Will ya let readers know we are looking for a new premises here in Gort for the Club!“
Jorena's Health & Gift Shop in Society have recently expanded to include new therapy rooms accessed upstairs on the premises. Services like Yoga, Reflexology, Counselling, Crystal healing and much more are all now included.
The shop was originally established in 1994 by Rena and John Kilcommins. Since then, the building has expanded twice and a second store opened in Roscommon town. The shop aimed to provide a safe haven for customers to seek refuge, whether to aid people with wedding presents or to treat client’s ailments.
While daughter Mary was cleaning the store rooms upstairs with her husband Paul, she formed the idea for the new therapy service suite. The store conveniently had a room upstairs which had no purpose, and furthermore she had just received full training from kinesiologist Ronnie Turner. Along with acquiring a kinesiology machine to aid customers in picking their supplements, Rena had all the components to develop this facility. Fast forward six months, and people across the country are booking months in advance to avail of this service and indeed other treatments.
As of today, the shop has ten employees working. In addition, the store also has a partnership with many therapists across the country. These associates work independent of the business and many have their own establishments, but regardless travel to Ballinasloe across the country to offer customers their knowledge and help.
Jorena’s key strengths lie in care and nutrition resulting from the continuous training in fholistic supplements which the staff undergo. The training is carried out by representatives of an array of nutrition companies to ensure the company understands the properties of the supplements fully, and how it may benefit their clients. The store continues to reinvent itself and explore new products, hoping to be stocked with the highest quality supplements that aid customers in living life with ease.
The therapies and treatments provided are still being finalized by their department upstairs. Rena appreciates any response from their clients sharing: “customer feedback has been outstanding and we are excited to advertise and introduce these marvellous therapies to our community.”
The treatment rooms are accessed separately to the shop by a door on the far left side of the establishment, with a cosy waiting room upstairs while being attended to by the therapists. As of yet, this service does not have an official timetable, with some assistants being only available during shop hours and some after closing, but Jorenas will soon list an official list of times and contacts on their Instagram and Facebook pages.
People can either ring the store at (090) 964 6585 or contact the therapists directly. On a final note Rena, wishes to remind the reader with a quote she finds to be of significance: “you have to nourish, to flourish”, says the busy Store co – founder.
You can Visit Jorena's website here: www.jorenashealthandgiftshop.ie
Or their Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/Jorenashealthstore
Ballinasloe achieved a Second-Place finish in a recent study across 35 towns measuring sustainability and accessibility of Transport
Ballinasloe achieved a Second-Place finish in a recent study across 35 towns measuring sustainability and accessibility of Transport by the Western Transport Commission, just being beaten by Shannon in the overall mobility ranking.
For the rull report click here
Leo Varadkar dropped by Balliasloe recently and some locals met him. Have a scroll through some of the photos!
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