CONG native Peter McHugh was crowned the ‘Mayor of Ballinrobe’ on Saturday night after a nail-biting finish to the novel fund-raising campaign which raised almost€73,000 in total for three local sports clubs.
A large crowd turned out in the Valkenburg Hotel to see McHugh, who was representing Ballinrobe Rugby Club, pip local GAA club representative, Adrian Flannery, by just €217 after a five-month campaign.
The two front-runners and their campaign teams raised €60,000 between them for their respective clubs through a variety of different initiatives.
Paddy McTigue, representing Ballinrobe Town FC, finished in third place.
“I can’t believe it,” said Peter McHugh shortly after the final figures had been tallied on Saturday night.
“I’m honoured to be the new Mayor of Ballinrobe and anything I can do to improve things for the town in this role, I will do.”
His success capped a memorable weekend for the well-known family. Peter’s brother, Ray, was revealed as a recipient of a Mayo People of the Year award last week in recognition of his outstanding contribution to charity organisations in his local area.
The new Mayor singled out his wife, Frances and sons, Rory, Peter and Christopher for special mention during his valedictory speech and he also paid tribute to his campaign team.
“Without them, this just wouldn’t have been possible,” admitted Peter.
“People like Seamus O’Toole, Paula O’Hara, Deirdre and Collette Burke, Sheila Madden, Richard Cummins, Johnny Flannery, Trevor Watson, Stephen Rochford, and everyone who helped to organise events, sell tickets and help in any way.”
The new Mayor will be back on the road this week with his infamous ‘McHugh Canteen’ which has become one of the most recognisable features of marts, shows and festivals in Mayo and Galway over the years.
In recent months his catchphrase, ‘Don’t be a mug, vote for the tea man!’ has become the rallying cry among his legions of customers and supporters, and he paid tribute to his loyal clientele last weekend.
“The farming community have been very good to me over the last few months,” he explained. “They have supported me every step of the way, bought tickets from me wherever I’ve gone, and the people of Connemara, in particular, really got behind me.”
Liam Horan also did an excellent job as Master of Ceremonies.