The sense of pride at the 2018 Drogheda Mayoral awards at the Highlanes Gallery last night was almost tangible. Pride of place and pride in the Drogheda community was evident from the moment the Drogheda Male Voice Choir got proceedings off to a rousing start.
Looking around the packed room one got the sense that, if its citizens could only work together as effectively as the choristers sang, then Drogheda can rise to any challenge.
Louth County Council’s Chief Executive, Joan Martin, though not perhaps known for gushing enthusiasm, got as close as she has done last night such was her obvious pride for the Highlanes Gallery and the people assembled therein.
As is his way The Mayor, Cllr. Pio Smith, who is widely considered to have done a great job during his term in office which is now drawing to an end, got straight down to business with as little fuss as possible.
He was right too, his choice of recipients, for what is the town’s greatest honour short of honorary citizenship, said all that needed to be said. The people to receive awards were:
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Aaron was recognised for his contribution to the world of literature and the arts which has also been nationally recognised having won the Hennessy Literary Award for First Fiction. Since his beginnings in the world of drama at a very young age, Aaron has been an active member of the theatrical community in Drogheda with Droichead Youth Theatre, Upstate, and Calipo theatre companies and is a founding member of Panic Productions. He is studying drama in Trinity College Dublin. In 2017 he had his first short story published in the Irish Times and aims to continue writing in the future, taking inspiration from literary greats such as James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, and David Foster Wallace.
Known to all by his nickname Sonny, Chris Kierans is a Christian Brother. On joining the order he first went to the formation houses in Baldoyle and Balheary, Swords, and then trained as a teacher in Marino Training College. He taught in St Vincent’s CBS, Glasnevin, and then in the new primary school, St David’s Artane, and was appointed principal of St Fintan’s Sutton at the young age of 25. The leaders in the Christian Brothers Order recognised his exceptional commitment and great interpersonal skills and soon picked him out to work in their school in Rome –Instituto Marcantonio Colonna. Over time Sonny, now known widely in Rome as Brother Chris, was appointed principal of the Instituto Marcantonia Colonna.
Sonny was chosen as the Christian Brothers’ representative to work with the Pope in planning papal audiences and to date has served with three popes, John Paul 2, Benedict and Francis. Throughout his time in Rome Sonny has always promoted Drogheda and assisted citizens from the town in any way he could and brought honour and distinction to Drogheda by his life of service.
The Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy have ministered in Drogheda since 1854. Down the years sisters have engaged in Primary, Secondary and Adult Education in Drogheda, Laytown, and Ballwin USA. Sisters have cared for the sick in their homes and in St Mary’s hospital. Sisters have been involved in the various organisations and Parish Groups, in Home and Hospital Visitation, in Youth Work, and in Community Development.
Sisters of Mercy continue to work in collaboration with others in ministry. In recent years Sisters of Mercy have formed partnerships, making resources e.g. buildings, available to organisations and groups such as The Red Door, so that they can provide services which meet present day needs.
The Drogheda Civic Trust is a local community group that seeks to promote the architectural, historical and cultural amenities of Drogheda and its surrounding areas, for the benefit of the people and visitors to the town. Projects carried out by DCT include, production of local artistic and historical calendars, The Whitaker lecture series, The National Famine Commemoration Drogheda Event, The Chord Road Cemetery Restoration Project, The Tumelty Sessions 2014, The Peace of Art project (2014/15), and MyStreets (2014/15 ongoing).
Most of last night's recipients were honoured for a lifetime of work to the community but Yellowbatter man Earl Gorman received his award for an act of heroism that saved a woman’s life.
On 20th August 2016 Earl was on duty as security guard in Scotch Hall Shopping Centre when at 9.20pm, he received a radio message that there was a woman in the River Boyne outside the centre. Earl tried several times to get a life-ring to the woman but he could see she was losing strength and was going under.
Earl bravely entered the water and succeeded in getting a life-ring to the woman and pulled her to the relative safety of a nearby ledge until help arrived in the form of a volunteer from The Boyne Fisherman's Rescue.
His quick-thinking and bravery saved the woman's life, his modesty following the incident hailed no heroics, he was more concentrated on raising awareness of the importance of having fully functioning life rings in place along the river.
Fintan McCarthy has given considerable service to the Drogheda Community over the years. He was a founding member of St Nicholas GFC in 1977 and was Chairman, Trustee, Treasurer and Manager over the years. Fintan is also a very active member of Drogheda and District Support 4 Older People, Drogheda Heritage Group and The Irish Wheelchair Association. Fintan’s community engagement has made a significant positive contribution to the lives of many people in Drogheda.
The Augustinian Community has made their premises available to support a number of social initiatives relating to social care and justice in Drogheda and its surrounds. Also, Fr Colm and the Augustinians host the annual mass of remembrance for road traffic victims and families who have lost a loved one through suicide. Out of this has grown the concept of a community garden for Drogheda where all will be welcome to gather to meet as friends or to take time to pause and reflect during the day.
Over the past ten years Jim has raised over €135,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland. He has done this through a series of long distance walks and marathon runs on several continents. The money has been used to fund research that will eventually lead to a cure for CF, to date Gerard has completed 349 marathons for the charity.
The Irish Red Cross volunteers distributed over 1200 litres of drinking water at locations around Drogheda during the water crisis of 2017. Volunteers worked tirelessly, providing 10 litre water packs and bottles of drinking water to the most vulnerable or home bound, and assisted in coordinating a response with the Local Authority.
Jim has been involved on a voluntary basis in sport for the past 60 years in the Drogheda area. His work has ensured that thousands of boys and girls in Drogheda and the surrounding area have had the opportunity to participate in sport at local national and international level. Jim has brought great honour to the town of Drogheda over that 60 years. In 1973 he was instrumental in founding St Marys Cycling Club and the Club won two All-Ireland gold medals and two silver medals in 1974. Jim also set up Platin Road Cycling Club which was taken over by Bremak Fiat Racing team a team that won multiple honours nationally. Jim served on the National cycling Executive as youth Secretary in 1979.
In 1980 he was part of the group that set up The Holy Family Boxing Club. He has served as club PRO Secretary and now chairperson of this highly respected Club. Over 2,500 boxers have passed through the club. Drogheda holds him in the highest esteem for his unwavering support of the youth in Drogheda. He is truly a citizen that deserves the greatest respect. Leinster and All Ireland titles. Under his direction the club has been represented at European and world championships by a number of outstanding boxers. In 1982 the Holy Family Boxing Club opened a state of the Art Clubhouse in Ballsgrove following a successful fundraising campaign, Jim being an integral part of that fundraising team.
In 2016 Jim led Ontario Boxing in Canada in the St Patrick’s Day parade a great honour for the Drogheda man. Jim has given his life to sport and selflessly gave of his time over the past 60 years ensuring that the people of Drogheda hold him in the highest esteem for his unwavering support of the youth in Drogheda. He is truly a citizen that deserves the greatest respect.
The Lourdes Brass Band was formed in Drogheda in 1959 and is now one of Ireland's most successful Brass Bands. It has always prided itself on being a band for the town of Drogheda and can be seen many times throughout the year entertaining the people of the town and surrounding areas, from the St Patrick's Day parade, performing in the local shopping centres and festivals to Christmas carols in the town centre and of course their well renowned annual Christmas concert.
They also proudly represent Drogheda to the highest standard the length and breadth of Ireland competing in Brass Band Championships. Their most recent competitive endeavour was in November which was a particular highlight, cleaning up all the silverware at Queens University Festival of Brass 2017, winning 1st Prize, 'Most Entertaining Band', 'Best March', and also 'Best Soloist' on the day.
A voluntary organisation with excellent commitment from all members, and parents connected offers everyone focus and discipline whilst flourishing real talent in many. They truly are a credit to our town !!
As founder of Boyne Valley Foods, Malachy McCloskey has made a significant and positive contribution to the business, cultural and environmental life of Drogheda. Throughout his career, Malachy has contributed greatly to Irish- UK trade relations as well as establishing important trading links with Spain and Belgium. The Boyne Valley Group is one of Drogheda's largest employers and actively promotes environmental sustainability by protecting honey bees and other pollinators. Malachy has published The Boyne Valley Irish Legends book and CD which demonstrates his personal commitment to tourism and heritage in the region. This award is given to recognise the outstanding contribution Malachy and his family have made to the well-being of his native town, Drogheda and it's citizens.
“In recognition of his dedication to Public Service and the service of his community as a distinguished member of the HSE National Ambulance Service. And in recognition of his unselfish commitment to the development of Non Governmental and voluntary medical service providers in Drogheda.
Also in recognition of his leadership and commitment to the National Ambulance Service through the development and acceptance of Ambulance Professionals as an integral element of the provision of frontline medical intervention to citizens in need of emergency care”
Seamie Briscoe is a Drogheda man whose many years of dedicated work in the Trade Union movement alone would be sufficient to earn him accolades but Seamie has always brought his considerable energy and drive plus his exceptional organising talents to bear in the world of sport.
He spent many years furthering the sport of Rugby, first as a player and then as a dedicated official with Delvin RFC. When the two local clubs combined to form Boyne RFC, Seamie was to the fore in building the club into the force that it is today. Over the years he has held many senior positions in the sport’s management structure both locally and nationally. It is a measure of his dedication that he has served continuously on Delvin and Boyne RFC’s committees for 46 years.
But Seamie is not a one sport individual. He played Gaelic football with St Fechins GFC, St Dominic’s GFC and the O’Raghallaighs. Along with his good friend Jim Walker he trained St Fechins GFC in the eighties which was a particularly successful period (Winners of the ACC Cup 1981, Louth Senior Football Championship, Joe Ward Cup, 1983 & 1984. Louth Senior League, Cardinal O’Donnell Cup, 1985.
Seamie is also a leading figure in the world of amateur entertainment. In the late sixties he was a founding member, Secretary and Producer of the Drogheda Variety Group which won Tops of the Town in Dundalk 1970. Seamie is also a member and Public Relations Officer with Drogheda Male Voice Choir since 2014.
The Drogheda Division of St. John Ambulance provides first-aid personnel and/or ambulance cover for sporting and outdoor events in our town. Volunteers from St John’s Ambulance engaged with Louth County Council during the water crisis in Drogheda in 2017, and ensured that many old, sick and vulnerable people were supplied with water throughout that period.
St. Oliver’s Scout Group has served the people of Drogheda since its foundation in 1935. Scouting has helped shape countless lives in Drogheda and no town in Ireland has such a strong tradition of Scouting so closely interwoven in its history. St. Oliver’s Scout Group is part of the fabric of the town and Drogheda Scouts continues to grow from strength to strength under their guidance.
Their community involvement was evident when the water crisis hit the people of Drogheda and surrounding areas. St. Oliver’s Scout Group were ready, willing and able to spring into action and their work ensured that some of the most vulnerable in our community had access to clean drinking water, delivering as they did containers of water to local housing estates. The St. Oliver’s Scout Group rented out a van and, sourcing water from their own well at their Scout Campsite in Collon, managed to deliver thousands of litres of clean water to elderly and vulnerable residents throughout the town of Drogheda.
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