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Huge crowds celebrate Mayo Day in New York


TAKING SHELTER  Martina Hughes, Head of Communications, Mayo County Council, addressed the large gathering.

Mike Finnerty
New York

A HUGE crowd turned out at the site of the Irish Hunger Memorial in New York last Saturday to ensure that Mayo Day was marked in style, with all those present marvelling at the stone cottage that was brought from Attymass to America a number of years ago.
With so many Mayo natives in the city to watch the county’s footballers in action on Sunday, many of them braved the inclement weather to make the trip to Battery Park for the fifth annual celebration of Mayo Day.
The theme for this year’s event was ‘The Mayo word, a celebration of all the wonderful artists from County Mayo’ according to Siobhán Carney, the President of the County Mayo Foundation.
As a result, the audience were treated to a performance from the Castlebar Concert Band, who had travelled over from Mayo for the weekend, as well as some music from John Munnelly, and a short address from author Maura Mulligan.  
A special presentation was also made to Brian O’Dwyer, who received the inaugural Mayo Day New York award for his work on behalf of the Mayo diaspora over many years.
Mayo County Council, who came up with the concept of Mayo Day five years ago, were represented in New York by Head of Communications, Martina Hughes; Head of Digital Transformation, Danny O’Toole; and Cllr Michael Holmes.
Addressing the assembled audience, Ms Hughes said that Mayo County Council were ‘delighted and honoured to mark Mayo Day 2019 in such an iconic location’ and explained that Mayo Day was ‘a celebration of the spirit of County Mayo and it’s people in Mayo communities worldwide’.
“The initiative is an opportunity to showcase the beauty, energy and vibrancy of our county and its people to a global audience,” she added.
“One of the original and ongoing aims of Mayo Day is to promote Mayo internationally as a location for business and tourism, and to further enhance the image of Mayo as a progressive, ‘will do’ county, and the heartbeat of the Wild Atlantic Way.
“Mayo Day has captured the imagination of the county, country and the world, which is something which can be utilised in the years ahead to further position Mayo as a county of choice for business and tourism.
“Mayo people at home and away have a unique sense of place. They are fiercely loyal to home and passionate about their origins, regardless of where they are located in the world. Their sense of place is strong, and their love of home is clear.”
Ms Hughes also said that, through their work in the area of diaspora engagement, Mayo County Council estimate that around 3.5 million people around the world have a connection to Mayo. As a result, social media now plays a major part in their efforts to communicate to the Mayo diaspora.
Meanwhile, Siobhán Carney, President of the County Mayo Foundation, was keen to acknowledge the number of Mayo people in attendance who had travelled to New York for the weekend to watch the county’s footballers in action the following day.
And she also thanked members of the Mayo senior squad and James Horan for attending Saturday’s event.
“It’s great to have so many Mayo people who have travelled over for the match here, and great to have so many of the diaspora here, people who have made New York city and the United States their second home.
“That lovely mix is really special, especially here in the grounds of the Irish Hunger Memorial where we know we have many generations of people from Mayo, and all over the country, who have travelled here down through the years.”
Ms Carney also singled out Mayo Associations all over the world for special mention, describing them as ‘the glue that holds all the diaspora together’ and she thanked Betty McLoughlin of New York and Julie Doyle, the former Mayo Association Dublin, chairperson for the work they had done.
Ms Carney also expressed her gratitude to a number of volunteers who helped to organise last weekend’s event in New York — Corina Galvin, Jennifer Mullin, John Kearns and Collette Connolly.
Before proceedings got underway at the Mayo Day event, the Irish national anthem was sung by Triona and Marina McEntee, grand-daughters of George Gibbons from Cong, while Anna-Lisa Chamberlian, a local soprano, sang the American national anthem.
The board of the County Mayo Foundation were also in attendance: Dwayne McNicholas, James O’Hora, John O’Malley, John Roche and Geraldine Sweeney, along with former President, Jim Waldron.