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Mayos in London celebrate in style

Sport

A SPECIAL NIGHT Terry Gallagher (Chairman, Mayo Association in London) is pictured being interviewed by Mike Finnerty of The Mayo News at the 56th annual Mayo Association in London dinner last Friday. Pic: Malcolm McNally

Mike Finnerty

THE 56th annual Mayo Association in London dinner maintained its yearly tradition of being a resounding success again last Friday night, with a huge amount of money being raised for worthy causes.
More than 500 people turned out at The Grange Hotel in St Paul’s with this year’s special guest, Kevin Kilbane, proving to be a big hit with the audience.
The former Republic of Ireland soccer international spoke at length about his strong ties with Mayo, and about how his love for the county was fostered by his late father, Farrell, who emigrated from Achill to Preston in the 1960s.
Kilbane also touched on his fanatical interest in Mayo GAA and his admiration for the current group of county senior footballers. He told the huge crowd that it was important that supporters continued to back the team again in 2019, and said there was no reason they couldn’t bounce back from the setbacks of recent seasons.
The hard-working Kilbane — who was back on BBC television on Saturday working as a pundit — was joined at his table on Friday night by Pat Duffy from Westport, who is the FAI’s national co-ordinator for underage elite football.
Also sitting at the same table was Phil Munnelly from Doohoma, who showed extraordinary generosity when he agreed to double the amount of money raised on the night for the Down Syndrome Association.
That meant a cheque for a total £10,000 was written for the organisation following a very successful collection.
Money was also raised on the night from a raffle for the Wilson family in Belmullet.
Among the other high-profile guests to fly over for the event were Mayo GAA Board officers, Mike Connelly, Seamus Tuohy and Dermot Butler; Mayo County Councillors Damien Ryan, Richard Finn and Gerry Coyle; Seamus Murray and Declan Marley of the Mayo Association in Galway; and Mayo County Council representatives Martina Hughes (Head of Communications) and Neil Sheridan (Communications and Diaspora AO).
But this was a night when everybody mingled and chatted and shared in this unique celebration for Mayo exiles.
Among those dotted around the room were the likes of Bill Joyce from Ballyheane (proprietor of the popular ‘Shanakee Bar’ in Ealing), who was holding court with Tom and Lil Watson from Ballinrobe, and Shane and Karina Watson who are now married and living in London.
Albert and Siobhan Dravins, and their son, Peter, from Breaffy, were also in attendance as was Tom Maloney from Bohola and his family.
Tom’s bar, ‘The Oxford Arms’ in Camden, has become a Mayo institution in London over the years.
We also bumped into people like Ronan Moran from Castlebar, Mary Kilkenny-Mulchrone, a native of Balla, Dermot and Celine Keane from Kilmaine, Declan Hughes from Castlebar, and Ian McDonnell from Balla, to mention just a few.
The majority of the credit for the spectacular success of the night once again has to go to people like the Chairman of the Mayo Association in London, Terry Gallagher, the unassuming Brendan Gallagher, and the hard-working President of the organisation, Kilmaine native Joe Murphy.
This year’s event marked the 20th anniversary of Terry Gallagher’s stewardship, and the Achill native assured the audience that he has the energy and the desire to stay at the helm well into the future.
This year’s renewal was another reminder of just how much Mayo people have contributed to life in London, and around England, for so many years.
And it was also a wonderful opportunity to showcase just how much their Mayo roots — and those of their sons and daughters — means to all of them in 2018.
We only had to see and hear the reaction when the band struck up ‘The Green and Red of Mayo’ to discover that for ourselves!

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