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‘Indomitable’ Sister Maureen is Mayo’s Person of the Year

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LEADING LADIES Mayo Person of the Year Sr Maureen Lally and Young Person of the Year, Micheala Walsh, pictured with their awards at the Mayo Dublin Association ceremony held in the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin last Saturday night. 
Pic: Paul Sherwood

The Mayo Association Dublin celebrated their annual awards – rebranded this year as ‘The Yew Tree Ball’ – with a glittering black-tie affair last Saturday night in The Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin.
Over 500 guests attended in glamorous style to honour the 2018 award winners, with Sister Maureen Lally picking up the Virginia Gallagher Trophy after being chosen as the Mayo Person of the Year.
Arriving guests were treated to a Prosecco reception and invited to Connacht Whiskey Company’s stylish Conncullin Gin bar before being seated for a four-course meal.
Chairperson of the association, Julie Doyle, said: “We are very grateful to all our guests, our sponsors and raffle prize givers for their overwhelming support of the rebrand of the premier event of the association. Our awards provide very important recognition for the hardworking people in our County, and we are delighted to be able to celebrate their achievements and contributions in a special way. This year’s awards were a great success, and we were honoured and humbled to hear our winners’ stories.”
The Ballsbridge Hotel was transformed into a sea of green and red with the awards ceremony itself being presided over by the PRO Bernardine Walsh, which included a raffle of over 50 prizes worth over €10,000 generously donated by businesses in Mayo and Dublin. The association chose Mayo Mental Health Association (MMHA) as their charity partner on the night. Guests were shown a video on MMHA’s important work, and the proceeds of a bumper envelope draw went to that worthy cause.  
Sr Maureen was presented with the award by Julie Doyle. The Islandeady native is an indomitable figure who has worked hard to stem the decline of rural and agricultural life in the Tochar Valley Network. Dr Shari Dann from Michigan State University, whom Sr Maureen had worked with to pioneer the rural network, travelled from the US to celebrate with Sr Maureen on the night.
Angelina Nugent from Midwest Radio interviewed the award winners. It was a particularly poignant interview with John Gallagher from Belmullet, the chairman of Comharchumann Forbartha Ionad Deirbhile, who accepted the Meitheal Award, sponsored by Connolly Motor Group, on behalf of the local group for their efforts in the R116 rescue. The interview revealed that even in the darkest of tragedies, the dignity and depth of the human spirit can be revealed.
Michaela Walsh from Swinford added another medal to her growing collection. The 18-year- old athlete was awarded the Young Mayo Person of the Year award by the association’s president, Dr Mona McGarry, who also sponsored the award. Ms McGarry presented Michaela with a bursary cheque for €1,000. Last year, Michaela won a bronze medal in the European Championship U-20 Hammer throw in Grosseto.
The guests danced the night away to the energetic tunes of Flat Out, a four-piece band from Ballina who are making a name for themselves in the Irish music scene with their unique Celtic sound.

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