Mona Joyce of St Kieran’s Community Centre in Athlone was the worthy recipient of this year’s overall Cathaoirleach’s Award.
Belvedere House and Gardens were bathed in magnificent sunshine as up to 300 people arrived for the Westmeath County Council Cathaoirleach Awards last Thursday April 30.
The event celebrates the people in our community, their involvement and volunteering, and their commitment to their own community and to the wider community.
Cathaoirleach Cllr Joe Whelan and leas cathaoirleach Cllr Detty Cornally presented a variety of awards on the night, while Colm Murray, RTE sports correspondent and a native of Moate, entertained the large gathering with his witty and eloquent speech.
The top award was presented by Cllr Whelan to Ms Joyce, who has worked for years to see the development of St Kieran's Community Centre and is now chairperson of the centre. She was described as a tireless worker for the community, and the driving force behind all the recent growth in the centre.
Speaking at the ceremony, Cllr Whelan said the awards offered an opportunity for Westmeath County Council to recognise the roles played by many in creating strong and vibrant communities.
“Each and every one of you here tonight are a credit to your communities. You work hard, generously giving up your own time, contributing to the lives of those around you and inspiring others to do the same,” he said.
Certificates of recognition were presented to all the nominees, followed by the announcement of the winners in each category.
Founder and chairman of the Boherquill Ramblers Walking Club, Brian Nerney, won the Active Citizenship award. Brian is also involved in Streete Parish Park, Streete Community Development, parish pastoral council, and Westmeath Community Development and Tourism.
Billy Martin of Ballymore Tidy Towns was presented with the Environment and Heritage award. Billy worked for many years with the GAA before becoming actively involved with Tidy Towns.
The Youth and Sport Development award went to founding member and current chairman of Mullingar Harriers Athletic Club, Bobby Begley. Bobby is former president of the Athletics Federation and a member of the Olympic Council of Ireland.
The award for Arts and Culture went to James Bermingham of Moate Branch Comhaltas Ceoiltoiri Eireann, who sadly passed away recently and whose daughter Teresa McMenamin collected the award. Jimmy was a dedicated voluntary member of Moate branch of Comhaltas, and the leading force behind setting up and building the museum in the Dun na Si Heritage park.
The cathaoirleach also made a special award to mark the occasion of 125 years of the GAA in memory of the late Cllr Adrian Murray. The award went to Séamus Ó’Faoláin in recognition of his long commitment to the GAA in Westmeath.
Also on the night, Colm Murray made a presentation to Ardnagrath NS, St Paul's NS Athlone, and Presentation Senior School Mullingar for the Schools Pride of Place Garden Competition.
County manager Danny McLoughlin made a special presentation to Conor Foxe of Tubberclair Foroige in recognition of their project entitled ‘Bringing the Library to You’.
Pride of Place awards went to Kinnegad Community Council, Multyfarnham Tidy Towns and Park Development, Tubberclair, and Mullingar’s Dalton Park.