THE PRIDE OF MAYO Garda Commissioner and Mayo Person of the Year 2007, Noel Conroy, pictured with his wife Mary after receiving his award. At back, from left: Tom Mitchell, former Mayo Person of the Year; Cllr Gerry Coyle, Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council; Val Gunning, Jim Murphy, Chairperson of the Mayo Association in Dublin; Bill Durkan, last year’s winner; Seamus Murray, Chairperson of the Mayo Association in Galway, and Declan Marley. Pic: Valerie O’Connor
Mayos turn out in force
OVER 1,000 joined the celebrations for the Mayo Person and Meitheal of the Year winners in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin last Friday night. It may well be the last time that the Mayo folk gather in the ‘Burlo’ – the term by which the hotel is known to local Dublin folk – as it is due to close for good next year to make way for a massive new apartment development.
Justice Minister and PD leader Michael McDowell told the gathering that he had attended numerous functions and socials during his term of office but none had given him more pleasure and satisfaction than seeing Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy being honoured with the Mayo Person of the Year award. He lauded Mr Conroy’s ‘hand on the wheel’ role during a time of major charge for An Garda Síochána.
Noel Conroy, a native of Blacksod, joined the force in 1963, rising through the ranks to lead an organisation with a staff of 15,000 and a budget of €1.3 billion. As a Dublin-based detective, Noel served in some of the most demanding sectors of policing and played a pivotal role in solving many of the major criminal conspiracies of the past four decades. He was the recipient of a Scott Medal for personal bravery during a particular incident.
Paul Williams, one of the adjudicators, quoting from the citation, said: “As a graduate of executive programmes in policing in Europe and the FBI Academy, Noel Conroy enjoys the respect of his peers both at home and abroad and has been at all times, a proud representative of his home county.”
Mr Conroy, in his acceptance speech, thanked his nominators, Seamus and Carmel Murray, and all who had lent such big support to the occasion. He extended a welcome to Minister McDowell, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, the chairman of Mayo County Council, Cllr Gerry Coyle, and to all the other elected representatives present in the hall.
He spoke of his pride in being bestowed with this unique honour in the life of any Mayo person and thanked his wife Mary (a native of Kerry) and family for their support over the years.
A large contingent from the Foxford area, as well as many friends of Sr Attracta Canny and Sr Dolores Duggan, also journeyed to Dublin for the presentation of the Meitheal award. The citation was read by Bill Prasifka from Los Angeles, chairman of the Competition Authority. The award was in recognition of the significant contribution Hope House has made to the county and wider community since its foundation in the early 1990s.
It is now recognised as a top-class residential care institution for the treatment of alcoholism, drug addiction, and compulsive disorders. It has treated over 1,500 people and has recorded a full recovery rate of upwards of 60%. Hope House is the kind of venture and standard that should be replicated throughout the State.
There was warm applause for Srs Attracta and Dolores as they came to the podium to accept the award. In her address, Sr Attracta thanked the many people who had befriended them since they came to Foxford and the Foxford community for their generous hospitality. She had a special mention for John O’Hara, who died in recent weeks and who had been such a stalwart supporter of Hope House since its foundation.
On behalf of Muintir Mhaigh Eo, Jim Murphy, chairman, joined in the congratulations to the award winners and also had special words of thanks for last year’s winner, Bill Durkan from Bohola, who had been a very effective Mayo Person of the Year and who had attended many functions throughout Ireland and overseas during his term.
The compere for the night was Noel Howley, while Arthur French once again presided at the big auction. Music was provided by Lightning Strikes.