Sr Maureen Lally is the winner of Mayo Person of the Year

Islandeady native Sr Maureen Lally has been named the Virginia Gallagher Mayo Person of the Year for 2018 by Mayo Association Dublin. She will receive the Virginia Gallagher Award at a gala presentation ceremony, The Yew Tree Ball, in Dublin's Ballsbridge Hotel on Saturday night, February 10. The adjudicators said Sr Maureen Lally through her quiet influence, relentless positivity, and loyalty has contributed much to our 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."

The citation stated: “She 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. She 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.

“The TVRCN runs an alcohol and substance misuse programme, heritage trails, international youth exchanges, and has led to significant job creation in the area. TVRCN has strengthened the people’s confidence and belief in themselves. The communities have learnt several ways of advancing their community development efforts and achieving their own vision for the future. They have also acquired the skills and know-how of envisioning and following through with community goals.

“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.”

Sr Maureen makes Mayo and rural communities an important part of her message and works tirelessly on their behalf. She works hard to keep the community message alive and that shines through all her projects. She is a true ambassador for Mayo.

The recipient of the 2018 Mayo Meitheal Award, sponsored this year by Connolly Motor Group, is Comharchumann Forbartha Ionad Deirbhile Teo (CFID ), Eachleim, Blacksod, for the R116 rescue community effort. The concept of the Meitheal has its roots in the community coming together at harvest time and the application of co-operation to social need. 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”. More than 100 community volunteers, homeowners, fishermen and farmers, local businesses, sporting and community bodies came together with the Coast Guard, the Garda, the Civil Defence, the RNLI, Mayo County Council, Navy divers, Aer Accident Investigation Unit, Mayo, Galway, and Donegal dive teams, the Sweeney family of Blacksod Lighthouse, Mayo Mountain Rescue, and many other agencies came together to work as a Meitheal for the benefit of the families and searchers for the crew of R116. On day 42 of the huge search, the efforts at Halla Naomh Bhrendáin, on the land and the sea were brought to an end and still gave no closure to the bereaved families.

The recipient of the 2018 Young Mayo Person of the Year is Michaela Walsh from Swinford. At 18 years of age Michaela is the flag-bearer for Ireland’s 4,000 year history with the hammer throw. She has set a number of new Irish records for her age group and 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 Irish medal in the hammer event at European Championship level. She is currently ranked second on the Irish all-time list for the women’s hammer and fifth in the shot put.

Tickets are now on sale for The Yew Tree Ball which takes place on Saturday, February 10, on www.mayoassociationdublin.com The black tie awards gala will incorporate a prosecco reception with a gin bar sponsored by Connacht Distillery, followed by a three course meal. Music on the night will be provided by Ballina band Flat Out. The awards will be hosted by MWR host, Angelina Nugent. Contact [email protected] for further details.

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