Galway Chamber award Honorary Life Membership to ‘Queen of Galway’ Mary Bennett

Past presidents of Galway Chamber - Bernard O’Hara, Pat McCambridge, Dave Hickey (current President), Mary Bennett, Hannah Kiely, Tom O’Connor and John Madden.

Past presidents of Galway Chamber - Bernard O’Hara, Pat McCambridge, Dave Hickey (current President), Mary Bennett, Hannah Kiely, Tom O’Connor and John Madden.

A woman who never wastes an opportunity to point out the attributes of Galway at home and abroad was this week honoured by Galway Chamber when they added her to a select club.

In the two centuries long history of the Chamber, only five people have been awarded honorary life membership — and the latest was this week when Mary Bennett was added to that distinguished list.

At a celebratory ceremony held in the Hotel Meyrick on Tuesday evening, friends and members gathered to celebrate the achievements of a woman Chamber President Dave Hickey referred to as the “Queen of Galway.”

“The award is in recognition of Mary’s active membership of Galway Chamber for 35 years as well as her many, many other business, charitable, and social activities all aimed at making Galway a better place in which to live, work and to visit,” he said.

With her good friend, the late Breda Ryan, Mary Bennett has acted as an ambassador for Galway for many decades, and the global perception of the city as a place to live, study, work, and holiday is attributable to the efforts of Mary Bennett over the last three city-shaping decades.

Mr Hickey said that this was an award long overdue and much deserved.

“I feel so lucky and privileged to be President of Galway Chamber on the day we pay tribute to the great Mary Bennett – the uncrowned Queen of Galway – with an honorary life membership of Galway Chamber of Commerce.”

“I can think of no one more deserving.”

Mayor Niall McNeilis, in one of his last official functions, echoed those sentiments, pointing out Mary Bennett’s huge efforts on behalf of many charities in Galway and nationally.

He also paid tribute to the manner in which her encouraging nature has led to the nurturing of an entrepreneurial ethos in the city.

“Mary is a great business leader who shares her insights and experience with lots of start-up businesses, like my own,” he said.

“She recognises that successful businesses breed further success and make Galway a better place.”

Dave Hickey also paid tribute to Mary’s family, her late husband Eddie, her daughters Melita and Adeline and son Ultan, acknowledging the fact that Galway had “borrowed” much of Mary’s time from her family.

“Mary remains a human dynamo – her energy and enthusiasm are unflagging. She takes every opportunity to promote Galway as a place in which to live, work and visit. No opportunity goes unmissed when it comes to showing the positive side of Galway, and that is why we are glad to be able to honour her in this way,” he concluded.

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