Swimming Club Members Shine
There were 14 swimmers represented Galway County Community Games finals in Tuam and all put in great performances. For many, this was their first taste of competition, and they won six gold medal winners, four silver and three bronze.
Head Coach Fiona Monaghan was delighted with the performances of everyone who took part. All those who won gold will be entered into the National Finals at the University of Limerick later in the month - Jack Connaughton, Abigail Monaghan, Laura Costello, Philip Costello, Kayla Mc Keon, and Evan Mc Keon.
Members of the swimming club were treated to a great event earlier in the summer when Olympic Swimmer and National record holder Darragh Greene, attended Coral Leisure for a morning. He gave a gym and pool coaching session to over 40 members, young and old.
In July, Leon and Evan Mc Keon, represented the Club in the National Division Two Championships which were held in Limerick over five days. This was a great opportunity to race with top swimmers from all around the country and both put in great performances. Evan came away with a bronze medal in the 50m freestyle, a great achievement.
Cycling Club Update
Some activities that members took part in over the summer were Tour De Connemara, Ring of Kerry, 3 Provinces Charity Cycle, Tour of Beara in Cork, Atlantic Coast Cycle in Clare, South Roscommon Charity Cycle, Lynx Charity Cycle in Offaly.
They raised over €800 for Jigsaw Galway, which provides mental health support to young people in the Ballinasloe area.. Hilly scenic loops of 95kms and 50km were completed by 30 Members - all over Tipperary heartlands finishing with lunch in De Roiste’s bar and Restaurant.
Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Centre Kinnitty, Co Offaly hosted a beginners and advanced members day for mountain cycling with guides provided.
Deirdre Dillon and Clare Dillon took part in the Donegal Atlantic Way 555., a gruelling course over 555km taking in the hills in Donegal and the club is delighted to report that they were the first ladies team home in just under 22 hours!
Members of the group showed their support for fellow cyclist Joe Mullin from Woodford who unfortunately was involved in a serious accident on 31 January 2022 while out training. They participated in the Portumna Cycling Club Bikes and Buns fundraiser.
Members of the MDC were given a lengthy briefing for the planning behind the return of the largest Equestrian and Visitor event of the West in the Autumn season, at their September monthly meeting.
Clearly spurned by pandemic gap and apparent anniversary the Council for the first time ever have seen the Heritage and Arts Officers and their Departments significantly involved in the programming and production.
Ex Saw Doctors member and Events Production Consultant - Pearse Doherty has been contracted as the Event Co – Ordinator to effect a professional presentation of the event.
Speaking to the Councillors he praised the festival as a great unique event that is outside the normal tourist season. He noted how he had been working alongside the Fair and Festival Committee, Gardaí, and Civil Defence. After meeting with the Civil Defence, they both came to the conclusion that extra medics had to be engaged on the busy days ‘Integrity Security’ from Dublin will provide the necessary extra security and have worked at the fair in 2019.
Liam Hanrahan Director of Services for GCC has said “Galway County Council will cover events and activity on the fair green as part of their Equine Insurance, which is costing an additional €7,800, however they won’t cover the festival or carnival element.” He defended the situation by explaining that Council would not have the budget to cover the insurances of every festival within the county.
He also said that GCC have contributed significantly by managing the horse fair such as the security, staff and medics.
The Fair and Festival it is believed will have their annual insurance bill of nearly €16,000 substantially reduced by the Council agreeing to undertake this – freeing up monies in their budget for entertainment and marketing.
Other good cheerful new from the Council was that they secured an new €20,000 in funding from the ‘Live Performance Arts Scheme’ promoted by the Arts Council to produce some of the music events. It is the first time that the Council is directly paying for some of Festival or entertainment costs of the event.
After the festival the bronze sculpture of the City of Culture Urn will be placed in the Slí Na hAbhainn Park permanently. It will also have a lighting feature so it can turn different colours to support different causes.
There was no mention or discussion on trading arrangements for the Fair itself and as to stalls locations on the closed streets and squares. Parking charged for the Lorries; horseboxes was not discussed on this occasion. There was no information provided about the Non-Public Order Gardai Units or indeed the policing plan for the event.
When the Town Council ran the last Fair in 2014 – Recorded Trading income from the Street Stalls, Parking on the Green, Fun Fair income and Green accommodation charges was north of €110,000 which was utilised with spend on additional outdoor crew, the temporary fencings, toilets, security, non-public order gardai , litter disposal and depending on the rainfall -re seeding and rolling of the Green.
It has been confirmed that the Annual Fairs Reception will take place on the eve of the Fair.
The Ballinasloe Lions club will be organising car parking for the event behind the Bank of Ireland, Salmons and Gullanes. The Show Society will be turning over their grounds for Carparking facilities.
Kilkerrin native swung into Garbally through the support of his USA based Aunts in 1957 – little did he think when he stepped down recently from the Board of Directors of the BCU he would have given over three decades of service to the Irish Credit Union Movement!
John McLoughlin, a long time serving Director and former Chair and Vice Chair of the Ballinasloe Credit Union reflects on over three decades of engagement since he was a Community Psychiatric Nurse in Castlereagh Hospital and founded with his wife Maura the Castlereagh Branch in 1988.
“twas one of the last in the country and what drove us to set it up was the complete unavailability of credit for ordinary working people at the time “ explains the sprightly John.
The Kilkerrin small famer’s son met the UK trained nurse Maura when he was a student nurse in St. Brigid’s in the early sixties. They got married in 1967 and set up home in Castlereagh – Maura had to give up career with the marriage ban, but returned to nursing after the family grew up when they came back to live in town.
A family of four duly emerged - Orla – who is a nurse in Kilkenny, Fiona who is a leading County Councillor in Kildare, Niamh who is the Business Lead with Medtronic in Galway and youngest Shane who works with the AIB in Corofin.
“Liam Kelly was a huge positive influence on me as young student nurse, we never lost touch and when we set up in Castlereagh he was there every step of the way helping us . So when I returned as a Community Nurse to the Ballinasloe area in the mid-90s he was mad keen to co – opt me as a Director to the local Credit Union, ” explains John.
Looking back on the growth and development of the Credit Union he is well impressed “that we have come a long way from just quietly sorting out the wife with the price of washing machine – to doing all the windows of a house, the bathroom, the roof, the car, the business expansion – the kids to college and even now a mortgage! “
He was Chair during the millennium and the local branch had recently employed Noel Madden as their first full time Administrator and moved to their Main St, premises from River St.
“We had an unprecedented spell of growth during that time maybe from 10,000 members accounts to 18,000 all down to the hard work of Noel, the board , our new visibility and the new attitude of the Irish people to money and credit “ states John.
He strongly believes that for all its faults the Celtic Tiger era got Irish people to be more open about their finances. “ No one in the 70s, 80s or 90s wanted anyone else to know that you had borrowed for a car, bailer or even a twin tub and folks were nervous of a having a local committee from your area knowing how much you were repaying each week but that all fell by the wayside from 2003 onwards “, he recalls.
His fondest memory though is not just of helping individuals but the umpteen community organisations that the Credit Union helped with sponsorship, grants and long terms loans to realise their ambition for facilities or social enterprise . “ Since the turn of the century we were able to assist so many organisations put in place their finances to drawn down grant aid and deliver for the community, when the high street banks just did not want to know “, explains John.
For him the overriding ethos of the movement was one of “ come and see us , and talk to us the minute you have an issue or problem with your repayments”.
He knows that people think being on the board is a huge financial and time drain “ Look at it , this system was always about ordinary people in society being trained and supervised to manage competently the affairs of a lending cooperative – you could be a road sweeper or a stockbroker -you were offered the same programmes and support to help manage your members money “ he states.
9 -10 hours a week on average is all that it should take to be a Board member including your few hours on working groups or sub – committees.
Frustratingly for John - the fussiness of the Central Bank Regulations since the financial collapse and the use of the market place language have served somewhat to alienate the next generation of local savers and borrowers.
“ What should I care now – with 15 grandchildren while trying to reduce a band Golf handicap and help out with Cancer Care Centre in Main St “ he laughs !
At the September monthly municipal meeting M.D.C. Chair Cllr Parsons had asked for an update on the new bus stops down by the Marina.
Fergal Fahey the Senior Executive Engineer for Galway County Council explained that they were finalising contracts with Waterways Ireland and Transport Ireland . The project is then going to tender and the Councillors were told prices and contracts are expected to be agreed and finalised in quarter one of 2023.
Currently there are 27 buses daily to the town. Eight come from Galway, 12 from Dublin, four from Portumna and three from Loughrea, there are plans to increase this level of services over the coming years and the total cost of the new stops ( one on either side of Sli Na hAbhainn) is in the region of €200,000.
Accessibility Ballinasloe Committee along with Brothers of Charity services Tope and SUAS, have been working with local representatives in highlighting the need for a new, properly lit ,modern bus stop that will be located at the marina to ensure it will be accessible to all.
Cllr Dr. Evelyn Parson was one of the key supporters of the new location but in fairness all of the elected representative were unanimously behind the development when it first came before Council on it’s part 8 process . L4606 and R446 vicinity of Marina. “ I have always felt this area around the Marina and public carpark would have scope to facilitate and promote visible connectivity within the wider East Galway / Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands area in line with tourism aspirations - beside the Marina, Suck Blueway , the Beara Breifne Walkway , the National Cycleway and any future heritage trails or tours arising from my proposal to develop Kellysgrove Poolboy area into a Heartland Park for Ballinasloe the Healing and Hosting Town” stated Cllr. Dr. Evelyn Parsons.
Gavin Kelly’s New Role
Recently Bank of Ireland (BOI) have appointed Kilgarve native Gavin Kelly as interim group chief executive.
He has fond memories of growing up here. He is still in touch with friends he made in Creagh National School and Garbally. “I feel lucky to have grown up in Ballinasloe, and love to get home whenever I can” he states.
Asked to reflect on who influenced him positively in his youth “ I better say my Maths teacher Gerry Kelly who guided me through 6 years at Garbally (and several more years at home!) Also, my Uncle Tony who I worked with in the family business in Kelly’s from age 13. Finally, I was the school bank manager in Transition Year! Clearly, given my subsequent career in financial services, that had more of an impact on me than I realised at the time!” he remarks.
He was keen rugby player in school and doesn’t get the chance to play much anymore but he tries to play a round of golf when he can. He is keen supporter of the four provinces in rugby and cheers on Galway as well in the GAA. He also supports his kids who play hockey for Monkstown Club in Dublin.
Married to wife Barbara with three kids, Eric is 15, Tom 14 and Holly 12 , he joined the bank in 2007 and has worked as the head of direct channels, director of consumer banking, director of distribution channels, chief executive officer in retail Ireland and his current position.
He still gets home regularly to visit his parents Esther and Gerry and believes it has a positive future “I know the town has had its ups and downs like every town across the country. However, the spirit remains strong and Ballinasloe has a lot going for it in terms of its location, amenities and quality of life. I attended an Enterprise town event in the Emerald Ballroom a couple of years ago and was really impressed with what I saw. The variety of industry and, above all, the pride in the town was fantastic to see” he explains.
At his graduation from Garbally in the early 90s the guest speaker was Pat Molloy, a past-pupil and the Group CEO of Bank of Ireland at the time. “I was really struck by his message of respect for everyone you meet throughout your career. I’ve tried to live this as best as I can over the past 30 years. And as for those youngsters embarking on their college courses - enjoy the experience and take your time in making career choices. Sometimes it might feel like you need to make decisions very quickly, but you don’t – try new and different things out, keep an open mind about your future, and that will help you find what you really love to do “
Sheridan To Receive Civic Honor
Cathaoirleach Cllr, Dr Parsons proposed a motion to grant Aidan Sheridan a civic honour due to his accomplishment in swimming the Shannon and fundraising. He raised more than €50,000 for Irish Cancer Society and East Galway and Midlands Cancer.
There was unanimous approval for the towns native from all the elected members present and the Executive will put in place an appropriate Civic Event over the coming weeks to honour and salute his noble efforts for those in the community who are touched by this disease.
That stewardship has been vigilant, giving and always focused on what is best for the services and the people in the community that are served.
In 1971, a group of like-minded people got together to provide Meals on Wheels and consequently in 1972, Ballinasloe Social Services Council was established.
The Meals on Wheels service continued under the guidance of Sr. John and based itself, with the kind co-operation of St Michael’s Parish, - still ongoing- in the Social Centre.
Dr Joe Tarpey was the first Chairperson and Margaret Mansfield first Secretary. Public Health Nurse, Anne Fitzmaurice Kenny was an early member of that original committee. She is still a member of the Management Committee. The late Stevie Connell from St Grellan’s was a great advocate for his own community and was around too from the beginning.
Pre-school education was an early concern and a number of places for vulnerable children were funded in Esther Kelly’s Preschool at Brackernagh. The Church of Ireland made its own contribution to this service.
In 1980, the current Social Services Centre in Brackernagh (formerly Jones’ House) was purchased by the Social Services Council with support from the Western Health Board and renovated. Éamon Lally led the organisation through and beyond this major development. Down the years he has been on and off committee a sustaining presence. In 1981, the Day Centre opened its doors to the community.
Then, in 1982, the Mercy Order seconded Sr. Alacoque Gleeson from her nursing position in St Brendan’s Loughrea to manage the Day Centre at no cost to the Council. Truly, Loughrea’s loss was Ballinasloe’s gain.
A minibus was donated to the Centre in 1983 by the Lions Club to enable more people from a wider area to attend the service.
Due to the demands, a significant extension was built and opened by Eamon Hannan CEO of the Western Health Board in 1985. This building was designed by Larry Duffy, Moher and built as part of an AnCO-precursor of a FÁS- Community Training Project. The Foreman was Seán Kenny from Eyrecourt.
In 1985, at the request of the Community Care Team, the Social Services provided a pilot programme for children with additional needs called “The Therapeutic Playgroup”. It was a multidisciplinary approach, and its teacher was Maura Hughes. Maura is still contributing and her poetry sessions with the clients in the Day Centre are very special.
A pre-school was established for the children in the local area in 1986 in a separate building.
In 1988, Teresa Coughlan was appointed as the first Administrator of Ballinasloe Social Services. This was a landmark decision, an inspired appointment which was transformative in its impact.
1989 saw the appointment of the gifted Elaine Murphy as Pre-School Leader.
In 1997 the Therapeutic Project for children with additional needs was re-located from the Health Centre to the Social Services Centre and subsequently re-named the Therapeutic Learning Centre. Parents of children with additional needs will be aware of the exquisite teaching involved in the interventions made by Elaine and her team.
The Sisters of Mercy involvement in Meals on Wheels ceased in 1999 after 26 years, having been provided by Sr. John, Sr. Dympna and Sr. Helena. Kay Cunningham was appointed as Meals on Wheels Co-Ordinator.
In 2006, in a fitting endorsement - President Mary McAleese and her husband, Martin, visited the Centre to mark the 25th anniversary of the Day Care Centre.
Sr. Alacoque retired from her post in 2009 and the position was filled by HSE’s St. Brendan’s Nursing Unit, Loughrea .2010 saw a new Care and Repair Service was started and now is housed at the Enterprise Centre.
2012 also saw celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the Social Services, with the late RTE reporter, Jim Fahy, speaking at the AGM. Annual Budget for all services was approximately €370,000 with some €61,000 from fundraising , donations and small grants.
In 2018, the former Therapy Room was transformed into a Dining Room and officially opened by Senator Maura Hopkins.
In 2020, the day centre closed in March due to COVID and did not re-open until October 2021. The refurbishment of the kitchen through a Maureen O’Connell Fund grant courtesy of the Ballinasloe Conference of the Vincent de Paul, was carried out. The Annual Budget in 2021 was close to €480,000 with some €49,000 being raised locally to support the work.
2022, the 50th anniversary, saw Mandy Lloyd being appointed as Day Centre Manager and a new bus being delivered. The pre-school garden is getting another make-over this year, thanks to a grant from the Late Late Show Toy Appeal.
Tusla, the Child Protection Agency recently provided significant funding to undertake research on an appropriate prevention and early intervention place-based model for families and youth services in town.
“There are a number of factors which have contributed to the growth and success of this organisation. Among these are the integrity of its stewardship down through the years -, that is its committee and board. That stewardship has been vigilant, giving and always focused on what is best for the services and the people in the community that are served. Money is managed tightly and accounted for meticulously. I am 45 years attending those stewardship monthly meetings and the most remarkable thing about them is the lack of ego in the room. Secondly, the organisation has been blessed by the quality of the individual service managers, their commitment, expertise, and professionalism. Then there are the foot soldiers, those who come to work day in day out to classroom, day room, kitchens; those in charge of the sacred work of transporting clients to the centre and who keep the meals on the wheels bringing much more than physical nourishment to those who receive them. And then there are the volunteers who give with such grace and to such effect that most precious of gifts, their time and who bring to that giving such kindness and compassion. All of these parties are custodians of great values”, noted Michael Lally a key activist and Board member of some 45 years.
Any account of its history through the last fifty years must record its indebtedness to the Mercy Sisters, firstly through seconded personnel- the aforementioned Sisters John and Dympna were succeeded by Sr Helena in the Meals On Wheels. The Day Care Centre at Brackneragh in its current form and ethos of warmth, professionalism and best practice is based on the model established by Sr Alacoque Gleeson who laid a foundation of care which has been sustained and developed by the current personnel. Down the years too and up to the present day the Mercy Sisters have been constant financial supporters of the services. They have given generously and quietly without any requirement of credit or public acknowledgement. Like their Foundress Mother Catherine McCauley they never get weary of doing what is good.
One of the solid foundations of BSS is the respect and support it receives from the people of Ballinasloe and its environs. From businesses, to organisations, to schools to individuals, it has the taken the cause to its heart and the financial support it provides is astonishing through thick and thin. It is an organisation that people trust and are prepared to back.
While the HSE is now the main funder, it is a fact that the services could not survive at their present level without this substantial support, which is of course saving the State services money in the medium to long term – in allowing folks to reside independently in their own home with strong support.
Annually 12 staff, allied with 45 volunteers deliver weekly and sometimes daily support to over 200 families with a variety of services.
New challenges are imminent with the crisis in energy costs and the cost of living generally. Many older people and families will struggle to cope with all of this. Hopefully with the help of experience and the continued support of the people of Ballinasloe and it’s enviorns the Social Services will continue to be able to be of assistance.
You can keep up to date with Ballinasloe Social Services on facebook!
Ballinasloe Golf Club updates
What a busy summer it has been at Ballinasloe Golf Club where they have seen some fantastic team and individuals’ accolades for their members. Their u18 Fred Daly team ended their 25 years wait and had a historic victory over County Sligo GC in the Connacht Final and then represented the club proudly in the All Irelands in Ballina. A tremendous quarter final victory over Roganstown saw the team progress to the semi-final but following a closely fought games, Massereene GC progressed
Notable individual performances over the summer saw Tom Cafferky selected to represent Ireland at the Home Internationals matches in Scotland. Charlie Mooney won the u17 Connacht boys close in Castlebar. In doing so Charlie posted a remarkable score and set a new course record. Niall Conneely headed south to Cork and recorded a win in the Fota Island Resort "Irish Kids Munster Open Boys 12s”. This was then followed by Niall winning the u13 Connacht Close.
Peggy Wong enjoyed her Lady Captain’s events at the beginning of August. Pauline Mullen took the spoils and claimed first place, followed by Maureen Dolphin and Mary O’Neill. Claire Staunton won the gross prize. Katie Connolly and Niall Connelly proved a formidable partnership in the Mixed Captain’s Prize in recording a narrow win
Mattie Curley’s Presidents Prize also took place recently and Vinny Costello secured victory this time having narrowly missed out on the Captain’s Prize earlier in the summer. Mike Coughlan, Frank Hannon and Margaret Creaven were hot on the hells of Vinny in the standings. The Mixed Prize was won by Mary Goode and Jack Coughlan.
Sean Kelly’s Senior Captain’s prize was won by Johnny Farrell. Mick O’Neill and William Duthie finished close behind and Michael Corbett played well to win the gross prize.
Rebecca Bleahen, who has been a fantastic junior ambassador for our club, celebrated her Junior Girls Captains Prize over two different formats - nine-hole singles and six-hole scramble. Holly Cafferky who won the nine-hole competition with one point to spare over Caoimhe Flanagan. Aoife Burns, Cailin Naughton and Molly Casey won the scramble format.
Our Golf4All programme with the Ballinasloe Brothers of Charity members ran over six sessions during the summer. The conclusion of this wonderful programme saw participants receive their well-earned Golf Ireland Certificates of Completion. All participants showed great commitment and determination to learn and most importantly to enjoy themselves while doing so during the sessions. A special thanks to Carol Pender, the participants and the people who support them in the Brothers of Charity, Accessibility Ballinasloe, our own BGC volunteers, Aideen Bergin, Meadow & Green for providing the refreshments and Golf Ireland. As ever, we express sincere gratitude to Mark Staunton for his coaching skills and the way he delivers the lessons.
The Summer Junior Camp ran over the summer where there were nearly 40 young golfers starting out. Thanks to Rita Moore, the girl’s junior convener, for organising the camp.
On the course, they were delighted to take delivery of a new mower and are seeing its benefits.
Such purchases are funded by the Club Lotto. The lotto is used to help fund course equipment expenditure and to maintain the course to a high standard. Draws take place monthly and are open to all club members for €8 per month.
Thanks to all members already contributing to the lotto and we encourage others to join so we can continue to invest in and improve the course.
Congratulations to Keelan O'Neill on recording a hole-in-one on the par three, third hole over the summer.
If you are interested in joining the golf club, please phone the office - 0909642126 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to talk through options for beginners, improvers and returning members
Ballinasloe Fair - Schedule
300 Years and going strong! To find out what's on - visit our what's on page and filter "Event Type" by Horse Fair
"As Chairperson of Ballinasloe Fair and Festival it is my honour and privilege to extend a Cead Mile Failte to each and everyone of our friends, National and International visitors who have travelled to join with us in celebrating a truly historic event, the 300th year of Europe’s Oldest International Horse Fair and Festival.
Our hardworking Voluntary Committee in conjunction with Galway Co Council, Ballinasloe Municipal Authority, ISPCA, Civil Defence and An Garda Siochana, have worked tirelessly to ensure visitors have an enjoyable & memorable visit to Ballinasloe.
We are custodians of this unique event, described by President, Michael D Higgins as “The Community of the Horse” in his opening address in 2018. It is our duty to maintain this economic driver for Ballinasloe, its hinterland and horse breeders throughout Ireland. In the same address he hoped that UNESCO would recognize its significance, something which we are currently working on as committee. Without doubt it is the Jewel in the Crown of the Heritage of Ballinasloe.
We are truly grateful to Mr. Liam Hanrahan, Director of Services and his team at Galway Co Co, to Cllr Evelyn Parsons and members of the Ballinasloe Municipal Authority for their support.
We could not have put together such an extensive programme of events, without the continued financial support from our sponsors, to them we extend our deepest appreciation and ask that you support them. Also this year we welcome the additional funding from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gealtacht, Sport and Media and Galway County Council.
The Great October Fair, which officially began in 1722, is so synonymous with Ballinasloe and such a significant event for the horse industry, Let’s all work together to support, improve, strengthen and guarantee it into the future.
On behalf of Ballinasloe Fair & Festival Committee we encourage people to come out and support the great programme of events to mark the 300th year celebrations."
Chairperson Ballinasloe Fair & Festival Committee
Sincere thanks to all our sponsors!
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