RICHLY DESERVED Sr Maureen Lally (right), the Mayo Person of the Year for 2018, is pictured here with her good friend, Kathleen McEvilly, from Killawalla. The pair were part of the Mayo team who won an All-Ireland camogie title in 1959.
Community Development worker Sister Maureen Lally has been announced as the Virginia Gallagher Mayo Person of the Year for 2018.
The recipients of the prestigious award were announced at a press briefing this afternoon in Dublin by Mayo Association Dublin, during which the winners of the Mayo’s Young Person of the Year award and Mayo Meitheal Award were also announced.
An Islandeady native, Sr Maureen Lally was named as the Mayo Person of the Year for her many years spent championing community development in Mayo.
Comharchumann Forbartha Ionad Deirbhile Teo (CFID), Eachleim, Blacksod, was named the Mayo Meitheal Award recipient for stellar voluntary community work during the R116 rescue effort.
Young Swinford athlete Michaela Walsh was named Mayo Young Person of the Year.
All three will receive their awards at a gala presentation ceremony, The Yew Tree Ball, in Dublin’s Ballsbridge Hotel on Saturday night, February 10.
The adjudicators said that Sr Maureen Lally, through her quiet influence, relentless positivity and loyalty has contributed much to her native county. In the words of one prominent academic with whom she has worked: “In a world where the loud and boisterous seem to reign supreme, we acknowledge and hail the work of a humble and reserved enabler, a true champion of the people.”
When announcing the prestigious Mayo Person of the Year award today, the award organiser, Mayo Association Dublin, stated: “[Sr Maureen] pioneered the Tóchar Valley Rural Community Network (TVRCN), which brought together 18 communities from Balla to Murrisk, and helped to stem the predicted decline of agriculture and rural life in the area.
“She had a firm belief that no community on its own can achieve as much as a network of communities working together toward shared goals. TVRCN remains a voluntary grassroots rural community network, committed to the empowerment of rural people in the development of sustainable rural communities. [Sr Maureen] humbly states that the work has been the spark that lights the ﬁre, but not necessarily the ﬁre itself, that community members themselves fuel the ﬁre.”
Sr Maureen also spearheaded the three-day Summer Solstice Walking Festival along the Croagh Patrick Trail beginning in Balla, meandering through the unspoilt landscape and rich heritage of central Mayo. She has been instrumental in bringing the Community Futures programme to Mayo, a proactive process where all community members have a voice in decision making and planned development.
Epitome of meitheal
When the Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopter R116 crashed into the Atlantic off the Blacksod coast over 100 community volunteers, homeowners, fishermen and farmers, local businesses, sporting and community bodies came together to help the emergency services in the search of the four crew members.
The Comharchumann Forbartha Ionad Deirbhile Teo community group opened the doors of their community centre, and for weeks after the accident, the local community supplied hot meals to the rescue workers and to family members of the R116 crew.
“In times of tragedy too, the meitheal has brought out the best in people and reflected their better natures. The community group that are the recipients of this year’s Meitheal of the Year award epitomise the truest definition of the word ‘meitheal’,” said the awards body.
The 2018 Young Mayo Person of the Year, Michaela Walsh from Swinford, has set a number of new Irish records for her age group in hammer throwing. Aged 18, she has been recognised locally, nationally and internationally, culminating in her winning a bronze medal in the hammer at the European Junior (Under 20) Championships in Grosseto, Italy, in 2017.
Michaela’s bronze is also the first ever Irish medal in the hammer event at European Championship level. Michaela is currently ranked second on the Irish all-time list for the women’s hammer and fourth in the shot put.
MORE Tickets are now on sale for The Yew Tree Ball, which takes place on February 10, on www.mayoassociationdublin.com.