It's all about 'go' in Moygownagh

THE go-ahead community of Moygownagh could become a template for the rest of Mayo, according to the local community council.

The February monthly meeting of Ballina Municipal District was held in Moygownagh Community Centre, which together with the adjacent GAA pitch and nearby national school, shop, church and small housing development, forms the focal point within the parish situated about seven kilometres from Crossmolina.

But, as community council PRO Liam Heffron explained, there is much more to the place than that. “We recognised the need to come together and create a development plan for ourselves and produce a template for north Mayo, the rest of Mayo and the western region,” he said after referencing a population decline in the parish of 82% since pre-Famine times (4,500 down to 585), a situation reflected around north Mayo.

What helps Moygownagh stand out is the Mayo Mud Run, Blanemore Forest with its 6,000-year-old tombs and its own 'rolling sun' phenomenon when the sun appears to roll down Nephin Mountain when viewed from a certain spot on a particular day, the ANSEO! Project to digitally copy all national school records in north Mayo and west Sligo (which started out of Moygownagh and will be archived there), the historic estates of Glenmore and Oranmore, and the ruins of St. Daria's ancient monastery at the 1,500-year-old Moygownagh Old Graveyard.

The Blanemore Forest Archaeological Walk with its assorted ancient monuments, described as 'Ceide Fields Mk II', has proven a big success since it was developed, according to Mr. Heffron. “It shows the power of the 'build it and they will come' ethos,” he said.

To build on the success, they had plans to develop walking trails (on-road and off-road, lit and unlit), a landscaped area in the centre of the village where people could fill up on food and fuel, and an extension of the Knockroe housing development.

“We have a vision here in Moygownagh,” said Mr. Heffron. “We don't always see eye-to-eye but ultimately we are passionate about what we want to do. We're hoping to build a better future for everyone. If we do, it can become a template for rural communities all around Mayo. I see no reason why we can't achieve it.”

Mr. Heffron had started his presentation by referencing John Healy and his era-defining book of 1968, No One Shouted Stop. He maintained that Mr. Healy got one thing wrong, however; it wasn't that no one shouted 'stop', it was that no one shouted 'go'.

“I believe we should all be shouting 'go', and with your (council's) help we can do it,” said Mr. Heffron by way of conclusion.

There was widespread praise for the presentation and the work of the community council, and one practical outcome was a proposal by Councillor Gerry Ginty for Mayo County Council to do what it could to have the road into the car park for the old cemetery – which is accessed on foot by a pedestrian bridge and by vehicle only when the water in the river is low enough to allow it – declared a public road and brought up to a proper standard.

Councillor Annie May Reape seconded the proposal and said it was great to see what a community like Moygownagh could achieve.