Christmas has come to Ballinasloe! The Christmas tree is alight and the store-windows are decorated beautifully!
It'll be a festive month ahead, thanks to the wonderful Festive Gathering we had at the weekend. MC Pat Vaughan, of B'sloe Panto, presented the evening, where Christmas carols were provided by local national schools, and Santa Claus turned on the lights.
Catch up on the events from the evening below!
A few weeks ago, Ballinasloe Life Magazine caught up with the 2017 Queen of the Fair, Kim Connaughton who spoke about her experience of the fair, her thoughts on winning and what she is looking forward to most over the next year as the Queen.
Best of luck now, moving forward!
You can read the online copy now HERE.
The magazine is now available at all usual retail outlets.
Written by Paddy Keane, of Keane Auctioneers.
Recently, when requested to give a short talk at any evening seminar, I decided to introduce some enthusiasm. I got the seminar host to distribute a number of photocopies of a plant. A small prize of €20 was offered for the plant identification. To our astonishment, it transpired that only one person of the group recognised it. Consequently, it is by way of this article that I decided the public should become aware of the presence of this plant and its future consequences.
Japanese Knotweed, classified as a most invasive species, was first discovered in Wales in the 1880s. It was then introduced by the Victorians for horticultural purposes. Its ornamental leaves and clusters of white flowers together with its three metre bamboo-like stems made it an attractive option for many gardens of the era.
Ironically, it only started to manifest itself in Ireland since the 1980s, likewise as an ornamental plant particularly on roadside areas of the Irish landscape.
Describing Japanese Knotweed will depend very much on the time of year in question. In Spring, small red buds appear. In Summer and Autumn, clusters of white flowers grow. In winter, the plant dies, leaving dead brown cave like stems standing or lying down. Whilst underground, it bears a most extensive rhizome, which is essentially an underground stem system common with an orange centre that snaps easily like a carrot when bent. Best referred to as most destructive, which not only causes damage to plant biodiversity and agriculture, it is also causing major problems for buildings and flood defences.
When cut or pulled, or even interfered with, Japanese Knotweed multiplies aggressively and srpeads rapidly, splitting concrete and damaging infrastructure such as homes and farm buildings. It can penetrate rapidly through both walls and tarmacadam. Consequently, it may well decrease the price of land and if identified near a planned building site, both Planning Permission and Mortgage Approval could be denied. In 2014, in the UK, the government spent in excessive of 1.25 BILLION sterling to eradicate the weed. Early identification is paramount, which was borne out by a Longford beef farmer who put a successful plan in place to eradicate it. In August 2017, Kerry County Council put aside €100,000 to destroy the invasive weed, which stymied construction of a Community Hospital in Kenmare. It’s important therefore to recognise it.
Under article 49 and 50 of the Birds and Habitats Directive, it is an offence to plant or dispose of the weed within the state. If, for example, a farmer knowingly cuts the Knotweed, they are in serious breach of this directive and may be prosecuted. In addition, the following procedures should be adhered to if you recognise it on a farm:
- fence it off, photograph it and forward it to your local authority.
Never under any circumstances attempt to cut the weed, or you will cause it to spread. If walking in an area of the Knotweed, wash both your footwear and clothes as you can cause it to spread. A lose 2cm fragment can cause it to spread. Refrain from digging it at all costs.
Although prevalent in every county, I have observed serious infestations in roadside areas of Aughrim, Kilrickle, Bullaun and Cappataggle. Most recently, Galway County Council have placed warning notices in many of those areas so as to alert people of its existence.
From a farming point of view, farmers need to take evasive action to prevent spread of the weed or may well risk breaching cross compliance rules which ultimate would affect all farm payments.
A similar invasive plant known as Giant Hogweed, prevalent in certain parts out the country, causes a variety of most serious skin irritations if contact is made.
On a final note, leaving aside invasive plants, people need to be aware of an invasion to Ireland of a species known as “False Widow Spiders”. Whilst unlikely that their bite is fatal, they should be considered as a serious potential health risk.
If you have a story worth sharing or news about Ballinasloe, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Town Team recently held a gala evening for their second ever Ballinasloe People of the Year Awards in the Shearwater Hotel with almost 500 guests and community organisations in attendance.
54 nominations for people and organisations were honoured, with each nominee receiving a certificate recognising their achievements. RTE Sports Journalist & Broadcaster Darren Frehill hosted the event, which was sponsored by the Credit Union, the Shearwater Hotel and KPW.
The Town Band under the baton of Noel Madden welcomed attendees with a fantastic symphony performance before everybody could move to the Plaza Suite for the event.
Seamus Duffy, the Chair of Ballinasloe Area Community Development (B.A.C.D.) opened proceedings welcoming everybody and updating the gathering on the Town Team’s projects, of the past 2 years - specifically mentioning the Zombie Walk that brought a sellout crowd of over 2,100. He also reminded the audience that while the Enterprise Centre was almost sold out again – the town has no capacity for new industry and he was pleased to announce that funding had been recently secured from the Credit Union to apply for full planning permission for a new advance modern light industrial factory on the IDA Business park to be shovel ready for new industrialists. He also mentioned that the group were in the process of hosting a seminar on the possible future uses of the old St. Bridgids Hospital complex. “Our next priority is the Festive gathering and Town illuminations and I thank all those associated with the staging of the evening and the awards especially the sponsors, whilst saluting all the nominees for their work in sustaining our community”.
Adrian Ahearne the Chair of the Credit Union spoke about how their Board and organisation were very much agreed to be supportive and acknowledging all the efforts of the many group and clubs that make up the fabric of our town and community. “ The Credit Union used to sponsor the old Mayoral awards some years back as we have been anchored in the needs of our local and we know and appreciate the efforts of volunteers , in a way that no other financial co – operative does . I want to thank the organisers and congratulate the nominees and winners this evening “ stated Adrian.
M.C. Darren Frehill of Lawrencetown then took to the stage, congratulating all nominees. “I was blown away, reading some of the nominations. It feels almost unfair to single out winners,” Darren mentioned his younger years growing up in the locality and how the sports clubs were a key aspect of his formation and how pleased he was to see so many people in their sporting attire at the event.
Nominees for all categories were introduced and awarded certificates of achievements by Adrian Ahearne. An interlude for food followed, during which the local music group Pleáracá performed. The break concluded with soprano Ciara Lawless, a sixth year student in Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone, performing some well known classics.
The category winners, were then announced as follows:
Arts, Cultural and Heritage Award – Lawrencetown Community Development-Heritage & Tidy Towns Focus Group
Business Community Spirit Award – Gullane’s Hotel
Social, Community & Civic Pride Award – Ballinasloe Social Services
Sports and Recreation Volunteer Award – John Donnelly (Cycling)
Sports and Recreation Individual Award – Heather Payne (Soccer)
Sports and Recreation Team Award – Ballinasloe Itosu-Kai Karatedo Ireland
Young Person’s Award – Julianna Green & Laura Frehill
Hall of Fame – Lifetime Achievement Award – Liam Kelly
Liam Kelly received the Hall of Fame award from Tom Quinn, the winner of the award in the inaugural event two years ago.
Jacinta Divilly, Co – Ordinator of the Town Team closed the evening, thanking the crowd for their support and congratulating the nominees, especially Liam for his lifetime achievement award. “I of course want to thank our sponsors for the evening. Thank you again to the Ballinasloe Credit Union, for sponsoring the Awards once again. Thank you to the Shearwater, who ensured a fantastic evening here tonight, feeding over 480 people supper in less than 30 minutes. And thank you as well to KPW, our new sponsors for the award,” Jacinta commented.
Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment, got a few moments on stage to congratulate the nominees and winners. He specifically praised the young nominees and their talents. He also mentioned the Town Team’s projects, praising their continued efforts to make Ballinasloe a better place to live and work. “ between the Surmodics Investment, the e fibre project and the advance planning for new industry – the work of the Town Team is being responded to and supported by a listening and encouraging Government who will help those communities that are trying to help themselves “, noted the Minister.
A raffle ran during the evening, with all proceeds going towards the continued enhancement of the Christmas Lights & Illumination Festivities. The Tops prizes was a €500 travel voucher from Kellers Travel, which was won by Nora Flaherty.
Facing stiff competition from organisations all over Ireland, Accessibility Ballinasloe were shortlisted for the Charity Impact Awards (administered by The Wheel and supported by Medtronic).
This is a great opportunity to highlight the work Accessibility Ballinasloe are doing. All you need to do is a simple click and VOTE and EVERY vote counts! Go to http://www.charityimpactawards.ie/community and click "small" category, then choose the "shortlist" button and complete the vote for Accessibility Ballinasloe.
So what is Accessibility Ballinasloe all about? Have a read here.....
Tell us about the issue or issues this organisation is tackling and why it matters: Accessibility Ballinasloe (AB) was set up in April 2016 to develop Ballinasloe and its hinterland as an accessible, inclusive environment which welcomes and supports everyone to live an independent and healthy life regardless of age or disability. This group endeavours to create awareness around the challenges faced by people with disabilities. This is essential to enable everybody to participate in the community equally.
How does it go about tackling these issues?: AB works with all members of the community (individuals, clubs, community groups, organisations and statutory bodies) to identify collectively the needs, find solutions and create awareness around the issues and challenges faced by older people and people with disabilities in the community.
Everyone loves a good story. Tell us about a case where the organisation has made a positive difference: AB conducted a Walkability Audit of Ballinasloe town centre in 2016, the recommendations of which now form part of Galway County Council's Town Enhancement Plan. AB has also lobbied for the installation of a wheelchair swing and picnic bench in a playground in the town and these have now been installed. AB has also lobbied for the installation of changing hoists in the Coral Leisure Centre and these will be installed before year end. AB was also involved in "Make Way" Day national campaign to create awareness around disability parking. In conjunction with Galway County Council, AB applied to the Town and Village Renewal Scheme for upgrade works to be done to pathways and line markings in the town and €100,000 has been approved
What has the overall impact of this work been?: Children with disabilities can now partake in day-to-day activities in a playground, They will also be able to partake in water activities in the Leisure Centre when the changing hoists are installed shortly. Improvements to pathways in the town will ensure that everyone in the community will be able to walk on our footpaths safely.
What makes this organisation special?: AB is a small group, consisting of 6 core members with diverse backgrounds, who have come together with a common purpose. The group members work in diverse areas within the community so witness at first hand the gaps that exist. The group is dynamic and totally focussed on achieving its goal. Because of its small size, action plans are put in place in response to identified needs and rapidly acted upon.
How can the public support this work?: ABs first fundraising event will take place this winter (table quiz) and local community's support will be sought. The public has responded AB's call to action to date with regard to events the group has organised This support can be seen in the photo uploaded in this application, which is of the Walkability Audit which was the positive response to AB's call to action for this project.
For the second year running Fittown Ballinasloe are on the winning team again and Ballinasloe is officially the Fittest Town in County Galway. This is great news for the town, and the winnings from both years will go towards their two key projects - Outdoor Sports Equipment installation (Sports capital application pending) and Recreational Trails Project
The Team has also been nominated for the upcoming People of the Year Awards which takes place next Thursday evening (9th November) in the Shearwater Hotel.
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