Four dedicated Galway heroes shortlisted for Volunteer Ireland Awards

From over 300 nominations, four exceptional Galway volunteers have been shortlisted for this year’s Volunteer Ireland Awards and will be celebrated at a special ceremony in City Hall, Dublin on December 2.

Frank Downes has been volunteering with Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind in Galway for 36 years. In the last fifteen years alone, he has raised over €1.5 million for the charity. One of his most successful events for 25 years has been the Amphicat which takes people in plastic canoes out onto various stretches of the River Corrib It is hugely popular and has raised hundreds of thousands for the charity.

 Marie Cahill has been volunteering with the Galway Parkinsons Association for over eight years and her impact has been significant. A number of family members of clients have commented that she has completely changed the lives of her clients such is her dedication and commitment. She has a unique manner which is appreciated by both clients and family members alike.

Barry Foley is a mature student in NUI Galway who has been volunteering with Ability West since 2011. He is a qualified fitness instructor and brings a number of groups with intellectual disabilities to the gym, develops work out plans for individuals and encourages them to see it through.  In the centres, he encourages and promotes healthy living lifestyles. During the month of August when services are closed, he organises gym sessions for service users to attend so that they can continue their work out sessions and stay active while on their holidays.

Connacht rugby player Ronan Loughney has had a huge impact on the Blue Teapot Theatre Company. Ronan is the head volunteer with the Bright Soul programme at the theatre which is a creative outlet for adults with moderate intellectual disabilities. He is passionate about encouraging participants to express themselves, while he also deals with any challenging behaviour, providing the care required to overcome any difficulties.

Commenting on the shortlist for the Volunteer Ireland Awards, Galway Volunteer Centre Manager Donncha Foley said the centre is thrilled to celebrate these volunteers and their dedication to their causes.

“Thousands of people volunteer across the country each day and they really are the unsung heroes that drive our communities. This is a chance for us to recognise some exceptional volunteers and really celebrate volunteering in Ireland. Reading their individual stories is truly inspiring and we are honoured to shine a light on their work. Thanks to volunteers such as these, Ireland is ranked number one in Europe on the World Giving Index and Galway should be proud of the part they played,” he said.

For more information on the Volunteer Ireland Awards 2015 or to read the inspiring stories of the all shortlisted volunteers, see the attached document or  

If you would like to find out more about volunteering in Galway, visit


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