Construction of new centre. Former Councillor Johnny Mee alongside officers and members of Ballyheane Community Council prepare to turn the sod for the construction of a new community centre and childcare facility in May 2006. This new facility replaced the existing community centre which was located in the former St. Mary’s National School, constructed in 1887. Picture reproduced courtesy of Ballyheane Past & Present book editorial team.

Ballyheane Community Council: 30 years a-growing

Henry Ford, founder of the Ford motor company in 1903, realised the importance of working together to achieve maximum success in the mass production of motor cars.

That same principle of team-working, or 'the Meitheal' spirit of working together, is applicable today within communities, neighbourhoods and organisations in the same way as it was more than 100 years ago when the Model T motor car rolled off Ford's assembly lines in Detroit, Michigan.

Just over 30 years ago, Ballyheane's first Community Council was established.

Since then, members (past and present) of this very progressive, forward-thinking Community Council have played a pivotal role in spearheading and co-ordinating numerous initiatives and developments in the region.

The council collaborates and works closely with numerous statutory and non-Governmental agencies including Mayo County Council, South West Mayo Development Company (SWMDC), Mayo Sports Partnership (MSP), Mayo Local Community Development Committee (LCDC), Mayo Public Participation Network (Mayo PPN), Pobal and other agencies. Ballyheane is part of the Tochár Valley Rural Community Network (TVRCN), having a rich tapestry of ecclesiastical sites, walking trails and other historical features.

The Ballyheane Community Action Plan (2022-2027), launched as part of the Mayo Community Futures Programme, is an ambitious five-year plan which identifies actions and projects to be accomplished in the region over the next number of years.

In the 300-1,000 population category, Ballyheane was chosen to represent Mayo in the 2021 IPB National Pride of Place Awards.

Since its establishment, Ballyheane Community Council has been to the forefront in laying the foundations for many of the social and cultural events, developments and projects which have taken place in the region right up to the present day.

The Early Years

Throughout the 1990s, at a time when social networking sites such as WhatsApp, Instagram, etcetera, were unheard of, the Community Council members arranged a number of very successful events and gatherings to help combat the effects of loneliness and isolation, particularly amongst senior citizens.

A number of social events, culminating with an annual senior citizens party, later to become an all-inclusive community event, were held in the old Community Centre, the former Ballyheane National School, now the All Stars Academy of Performing Arts.

A number of day trips to some of Ireland's most well-known tourist attractions were organised and co-ordinated by members of the Community Council with many primary school children (now young adults) and senior citizens (sadly, many no longer with us) enjoying a special 'away day'.

Other events and activities undertaken at the time included information nights, adult classes, various meetings with officials and elected members of Mayo County Council.

While there have been many major achievements in the region since the Community Council was founded, the official opening of a new Community Centre by former Mayo County Manager Des Mahon on January 31, 2009, was a testament to the determination, hard work and resolve of members and non-members of the Community Council at the time.

Today, Ballyheane Community Centre, incorporating the Community Childcare Service (Ballyheane Buttercups), is a focal point for meetings, social gatherings, and numerous other day and night time activities and events.

In recent years

Ballyheane Community Council continues to evolve and adapt to the changing demographics and needs of the region.

Members of the council are also active participants in many of the local sub-groups and committees, including the walkway, Christmas tree lights, bingo and cemetery committees, Ballyheane/Ballintubber community first responders and the Active 55 group.

The council also works closely with members of Ballyheane AFC, Mayo Mental Health Association and play key roles in the hugely successful 'Horror in the Barracks' Halloween event which supports many local community initiatives.

Those from the region who have had the privilege of either being a member of or closely associated with this Community Council at any time in its history can now proudly look back and reflect on the successful completion of many worthwhile initiatives and developments in the region.

"Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn"- (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

As the sun sets on 30 years of achievement, who knows what the 'new dawn' may deliver for the Ballyheane Community into the future.