Outstanding Mayo people feted at gala ceremony
The outstanding level of volunteerism and community loyalty that exists in Mayo and beyond has been praised at the 28th Mayo People of the Year Awards, staged last night at Breaffy House Hotel, Castlebar.
Ballina man Matt Farrell, the recipient of the Hall of Fame accolade, said he has long been an admirer of those who give unselfishly of their time to community work.
Mr. Farrell, who has given over 60 years of service to his native Ballina in a number of roles, encouraged people, young and old, to become involved in the many great groups and organisation that exists in towns and villages across the county.
"It is a very rewarding experience," he added.
The awards ceremony, organised annually by Mayo Rehab, Mayo County Council, and The Connaught Telegraph, helps raise much-needed funds for the provision of provision of services for Mayo Rehab.
The event was attended by Minister of State Dara Calleary, Deputy Alan Dillon, Councillor Seamus Weir, cathaoirleach, Mayo County Council, Councillor Ger Deere, Councillor Michael Kilcoyne and Councilor Donna Sheridan.
The list of award winners is as follows:
Hall of Fame Award
Matt Farrell - community activist
Fifty summers have passed since Matt Farrell began his campaign for the betterment of Ballina.
Over that period he has been involved with 16 different independent organisations in promoting the north Mayo capital.
Gradam na Gaeilge Award
Fr. Padraig Stanton
As a prolific writer through the medium of Gaeilge and as a priest who has served Gaeltacht communities Padraig has done more than his share to promote and foster the language and serve those who use the language as an everyday medium of speech.
Business Community Liaison Award
With two business ventures in the heart of Castlebar - Duffy Stainless Steel and Duffy’s Costcutter Service Station - Tom Duffy has been providing employment and services to the people of Mayo for over 45 years.
Mayo Diaspora Award
Pennsylvania Cup Homecoming Committee
The Pennsylvania Cup was returned to Mayo after 90 years. It was presented to the historic Mayo team of 1932 on a visit to the USA.
Later it emigrated to London and remained hidden away in an attic until Pat McNicholas from Bohola located it and Brough it home to Mayo in 2016.
Young People of the Year Awards
Mohammad Naeem, Claremorris
Mohammad has and continues to selflessly contribute to his community. He is the Mayo Comhairle na nOg chairperson and has, for the Irish Cancer Society, been a driving force in identifying issues among young people in Mayo.
He is on the Ombudsman for Children Youth Advisory panel and worked on a report on children’s right’s in Ireland entitled ‘Pieces of Us’ which was presented in Geneva Switzerland at the United Nations.
Zoe Flanagan, Castlebar
Zeo is 11 years and a 5th class student in Castlebar Primary School.
Since 2015 she has donated her hair on three occasions to a foundation that creates wigs for children suffering from hair-loss.
Felix Earls, Castlebar
Felix has been involved with Love Castlebar which he has contributed to since he was about 10 years, but far beyond this is his volunteering with Castlebar Tidy Towns.
Felix is a volunteer with Mayo Autism Group and every Saturday morning he is found in the astro turf at Castlebar Mitchels giving group members every opportunity to participate in the game they love.
Sports Club Award
Belmullet Swimming Club
Covid 19 for many was a curse but for members of Belmullet Swimming Club, the local Tidal Pool was a silver lining.
As they were outdoors they were able to remain open during the toughest of times.
The pool itself became a lifesaver for many people living close by and, once restrictions began to lift, it also became an important outlet for many others who would come and use the pool for both physical and mental wellbeing.
Mayo People of the Year 2022
Castlebar native Sean Lyons is an active community worker in Co. Kerry where he has served on many boards and committees.
He has been involved in events all over Co, Kerry - charity art auctions in Waterville, RNLI evenings in Fenit, community awards in Killarney, sporting and cultural occasions in locations from Dingle to Listowel.
The Cycle for Shane committee and participants
A cycle journey in August from London to Achill was staged in memory of Shane Corrigan.
Shane was just 23 when he died suddenly from Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy in January 2018 and is buried on Achill Island.
Funds raised at the moment are over £100,000 which will be divided between the Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy organisation and Epilepsy Ireland.
The Mayo Recovery College
The Mayo Recovery College is community facing and open for everyone with an interest in mental health and well-being.
The Mayo Recovery College is based at the Atlantic Technology University Mayo (formerly known as GMIT).
The core staff of three have dealt with many challenges
Now part of their job is to courageously use that lived experience to support others to learn about different mental health and wellbeing topics, break down stigma and inspire hope.
Fiacra Ryan, Castlebar
Fiacra (21) is a powerful advocate for the voice of autistic people, and all those with a disability in society.
He took part in the RTE documentary ‘Autism and Me’ a number of years ago.
Following this, he scripted his own documentary, filmed over eight years, called ‘Speechless’, which shines a light on living with autism.
The team at Lough Lannagh Village, Castlebar
Gerardine and Paul Lennon and Ronan O’Neill are the entire team at Lough Lannagh Village in Castlebar.
The nomination stems from their outstanding response to the Ukrainian migrant crisis.
In the most challenging of circumstances, Gerardine and her team have achieved the impossible - they have built a community, a home, a family of disparate individuals thrown together through circumstance and chance.
Mary Fahey, Islandeady
Mary Fahey was nominated for her unstinting service to community and county as a community psychiatric nurse for 46 years.
She has given 100 per cent throughout her career, dealing with so many people in her care in and out of office hours, tending to many who would be lost without her.
Brian is originally from Westmeath - but a Mayo man through and through. He resides in Arizona but comes to Mayo each summer and Christmas.
He gives his time voluntary in helping business start-ups in the Mayo region.
He has played the role of Entrepreneur in Residence at the Atlantic Technology University iHub for over 10 years and in that time asks for nothing in return.