The lovely village of Belcarra. Image: Google Maps.

Joe Blowick, Brose Walsh and other Belcarra greats

by Auld Stock

FOR a village of its size, Belcarra, six miles from Castlebar, has produced many outstanding people.

Joe Blowick, a native of Belcarra, a member of the Clann na Talmhan Party, was elected to Dáil Éireann for the South Mayo constituency and was appointed to the cabinet in two inter-party governments, serving under the Taoiseach, John A. Costello, as Minister for Lands on both occasions.

Joe was son of John and Norah Blowick, nee Madden. He had one sister, Norah, and three brothers, all of whom became priests.

Fr. Stephen Blowick ministered in Islandeady for a number of years, Fr. John Blowick was founder of the Maynooth Mission to China, and Fr. Peter Blowick was a member of the Missionary Society of St. Columban.

Joe Blowick, a genuine man of the people and well regarded by John A. Costello, was responsible for one of the largest reafforestation programmes ever undertaken in this country, as well as many other schemes of major benefit to the farming community.

Joe is remembered with affection and pride in his native Belcarra and by the people of Mayo and in other parts of Ireland.

Another noble son of Belcarra was Brose Walsh, bandleader and community worker. Brose, a keen angler, was on the dance band scene for over fifty years.

He had a unique voice and I have never heard any vocalist to match his singing of “South of the Border.”

His sons continue Brose’s tradition on the music scene.

The Arcadia Ballroom, Belcarra, was one of the most popular dances venues in Mayo and the annual fancy dress each Christmas in the Arcadia attracted fans from all over Mayo.

Mary Livingstone (Foy), McHale Road, and Tess Quigley, Ballyheane, won several prizes at the fancy dress dance in the Arcadia with their colourful and imaginative costumes.

Pat Mullaney and Paddy Tuffy, Belcarra, two well read men, organised a number of quizzes in the Arcadia Ballroom in the 1960s.

Pat passed away some years ago but his wife Mary, a graceful and refined lady, looks as well as ever.

Older people in Belcarra will remember Bill Canty, a returned Yank, who had a quaint way with words and was very proud of the American race and President Harry Truman.

Belcarra has an impressive record in the Tidy Towns competition, winning many awards over the years.

The village has produced many outstanding handballers and footballers.

In recent times a number of young handballers from Belcarra have won major honours.

One of Belcarra’s best footballers in years past was Jackie Biggins, Derreens, who played with distinction for an Irish club in London before returning home to don the Belcarra colours.

News that Mayo County Council has granted planning permission for 22 houses in Belcarra has been warmly welcomed.

The new housing scheme will be of immense benefit to Belcarra.

The new N5 roadway from Castlebar to Westport connects with the main road between Belcarra and Castlebar.

The population of Belcarra, recorded in the 2016 census, is 228.

I believe this number has increased in the past four years as many people appreciate the advantages of living in a rural area such as Belcarra with its modern amenities.

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