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Mayo Peace Park founder honoured by Queen

Mayo Peace Park founder honoured by Queen

Áine Ryan

WHAT have Status Quo’s ageing rockers, Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi, Star Trek’s Patrick Stewart and Mayo Memorial Peace Park’s, Michael Feeney got in common? They were all honoured in Queen Elizabeth’s New Year’s Honours List.
Founder of the County Mayo Peace Park in Castlebar, Mr Michael Feeney (pictured) was last week awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for services to UK-Ireland relations.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday, Mr Feeney expressed his delight and feeling of pride on behalf of the peace park committee with which he observed that he ‘shares this honour’.
“I was taken aback by the news. I knew that international sources had submitted a nomination  and this had then to be approved by a committee and later signed-off by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown,” Michael Feeney explained.
“Of course, they then have to check if you are willing to accept the honour. I have been a dual citizen for many years and I am proud to accept it. Many of my relatives, on both side of my family, emigrated to Britain in the past,” he continued.
“ I believe the honour reflects well on the county and the park. But I must stress that it is a shared honour with the committee and, of course, Castlebar Town Council and Mayo County Council,” Michael Feeney added.
In the coming months he will travel to Buckingham Palace, along with his wife, Mary, and two teenage children, Patrick (17) and Anna (14) to receive his MBE – a special medal and pin – from  Queen Elizabeth.
Since last week’s award, Mr Feeney has received congratulations from emigrant groups  all over the world, he also told The Mayo News.
It is just over 15 months since President Mary McAleese officially opened the Mayo Memorial Peace Park, situated on the edge of county town, Castlebar. The park is the culmination of two decades of work and is now an important symbol dedicated to the cause of the forgotten war dead.
On that historic day of the official opening, Mr Feeney welcomed families of the fallen, who had travelled to the ceremony from Hong Kong, Australia, the USA, Britain, Canada and other parts of the globe.
“Today, the families have respect and dignity given back to them as their years of silent grief can be committed to the past,” he said on the day. “This is a day for the people of Mayo, and to all who have shown up here today, I thank you for showing respect for the work that has been done, but most of all, for showing respect for our fallen.”