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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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
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.
Local couple Arthur and Deborah Carr received the prestigious Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year Award 2020 for their outstanding work with Claddagh Watch Patrol and Galway East Life Support.
The pair were announced as the latest winners live on RTE radio when Ryan Tubridy surprised the couple announcing that they had won ,during an interview. The unexpected award served as a valuable reward for them and their volunteers' recent activity and achievements.
The Claddagh Watch was set up in January 2019 after five people tragically lost their lives to the Galway river in one week. The group attempts to prevent death by accident or suicide in the canals, rivers, and seas of Galway City.
Together the couple have trained almost 100 volunteers from all sorts of different backgrounds for the Claddagh Watch patrol and there is not a week where the couple are not involved in the patrol venturing out and surveying the bridges and waterways of Galway City along with the other volunteers going out multiple times a week. Simultaneously fundraising for the vital equipment that is needed to assist the volunteers in their patrols and securing a base for the crew to operate.
Along with the Claddagh watch, the couple also run a mental health support line Galway East Life Support formed in 2013 with four pillars of Education, Prevention, Awareness and Support. Over the past seven years the GELS centre located in Cullen’s Yard offer training courses, community talks and support.
GELS helpline 0851237878 remains open with 75 calls being answered in 2020. Before Covid-19 the centre was open 3 days a week and all were available to call in for advice or information post restrictions the group will facilitate weekly meetings hosting in the Men’s Shed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Gamblers Anonymous on Tuesday at 8:30pm, a weekly two art groups, a ME/Fibromyalgia support group.
To finance the operation GELS also have a charity shop named ‘A New & Slightly Used’ stocked with clothing, shoes, gifts, books and more stock located on the second floor of their building with plans to open the store two weekends a month.
The couple has been recognised in their voluntary efforts before with Galway East Life Support being the proud winners at the Ballinasloe Mayor Awards of the Award for Social & Community Support in 2014. Arthur was then presented with the Social & Community Support Award at the 2015 Ballinasloe Credit Union People of the Year Awards. In 2016 Arthur scooped up Volunteer of the Year for Galway at the Cathaoirleach Community Awards and Deborah was nominated in the Social, Community & Civic Pride category for the 2017 Credit Union People of the Year Awards.
The Christine Buckley Award comes with no less pleasure and even better they were completely unaware to the fact that they were even up for the award, in what was an early Christmas present live on RTE Radio Ryan presented them with a giant cheque of €1,000 for the two charities and they were also presented with an engraved trophy, some complimentary tickets to the EPIC Museum of Irish Emigration in Dublin, a painting of the Long Walk in Galway, and a framed letter from the country’s president Michael D. Higgins.
Arthur and Deborah hope it will bring further attention to their cause and bring further financial support to their organisations.
CEO of Volunteer Ireland Nina Arwitz said: “Arthur and Deborah embody everything about the true volunteering spirit. They have a clear passion for helping others and dedicate so much of their free time to supporting those in crisis.”
Commenting after winning the award, Deborah exclaimed: “Arthur and I would like to thank everyone that has: phoned, messaged, posted liked and shared and congratulated us. The Volunteer Ireland Safety & Emergency Skills award was unexpected. We had thought that perhaps Claddagh Watch would get a nomination, which it did but we never considered ourselves Then the Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year award completely blew us both away. Our feet have yet to touch the ground. Whilst our names are on the 2 awards they belong to every volunteer, board member, sponsor, donor and cheerleader past and present that are or have ever been involved with both Claddagh Watch Patrol and GELS without them nothing would have been achieved.”
Over the latest Lockdown, Claddagh Watch Patrol and Galway East Life Support are still active and ready to support whoever is in need. Volunteers that come from every background are dedicated to the cause and have been of help to save many lives since the organisations beginning.
If you have you any news - email us!