Emigrant Newsletter for London Reunion (October 1999)

BALLYCROY NATIONAL PARK AND VISITORS' CENTRE

To date around 20,000 acres of blanket bog have been purchased in agreement with local farmers. This area of land stretches from Muingnahallona near Bangor to Glenamong near Newport with Nephin beg to the east and Bellagarvan to the west. This is one of the largest expanses of Atlantic blanket bog in Ireland and is of international importance.

The site is host to two very rare plants and several others of lesser importance. The area is also host to a flock of Greenland White Fronted Wild Geese. They spend the winter in the Owenduff Valley. It is also a breeding ground for Golden Plover, Red Grouse and Dunlin. Birds of prey include the Peregrin Falcon and the rare Merlin.

Last year Duchas, the Government Department responsible for Parks and Centres purchased office accommodation for park headquarters at Logduff Mor, formerly owned by the Moulderings. Two full time Park Rangers will be employed there in the near future. Recently work commenced on building a road to this office and repairs to buildings have been carried out. News on the Visitors Centre in Ballycroy is that up to six sites have been inspected as to their suitability for the centre. It is hoped that an early decision will be made on the centre's location.

The local community will be consulted on its design and how best it could give a badly needed boost to the economic life of the area. Funding for the centre is expected by the year 2001. Now is the time to invest in property or business in Ballycroy as on year one of our Visitor's Centre it is expected that 40,000 people will visit. Ballycroy has to be prepared for a big number of visitors. Hopefully the park and centre will help to make Ballycroy a more prosperous place and a hub of north-west Mayo.

BALLYCROY WATER SCHEME

Ballycroy Water Board Company is pleased to announce that tenders were sought for the upgrading of the scheme in the Independent Newspapers of 4th.June 1999. Four tenders were received and were opened on August 29th, 1999, at the offices of Mayo County Council. The tenders are been examined by the Company's Engineer at the present time.

INISHBIGGLE

Great progress has been taking place on Ballycroy's beautiful island, Inishbiggle, in the last year. The co-operative there has recently, through FAS, renovated a house, which will serve as co-operative headquarters and offices. Near to this house the ground has already been marked out for the installation of the long awaited cable car system, which will link Inishbiggle to Achill.

Plans have also been sanctioned for the erection of a slip-way on Innishbiggle, which will be opposite Doran's Point on the Ballycroy mainland. A similar slip-way is to be erected at Doran's Point. These slip-ways will greatly enhance communication between Innishbiggle and the rest of the parish. They will also give Ballycroy much better access to the sea and that could be of enormous advantage to Ballycroy from the point of view of tourism and fishing.

Major refurbishments are underway, through FAS, at the school on Innishbiggle. At present the school is used for weekly mass and also as a community centre and health centre. The possibility of the church on Innishbiggle being used jointly by the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Congregations there is also currently under consideration. There seems to be a general feeling that it would be a very nice ecumenical development for the millenium year.

BALLYCROY G.A.A. 1999

Ballycroy G.A.A. was unable to field a championship team in 1998 for the first time since the sixties and was determined to make amends in 1999. Accordingly at the A.G.M. a fresh start was made. Training began in February for one night a week in the community hall. Michael Gallagher (trainer and selector of the team), who lives in Castlebar, made the trip down to Ballycroy for training every week and later two or three times a week.

The first set-back came when the County Board refused to let Ballycroy play in the Mayo League- a penalty for not fielding a team in 1998. Subsequently Ballycroy organised a few friendly challenge matches with good results. When Ballycroy played Belmullet in the Exclusive League it gave a good account of itself. Belmullet went on to win the County Junior title.

Ballycroy had a lot of sponsorship in 1999.George Sweeney presented a set of jerseys to the club. This was a welcome gesture as it is very hard to get that kind of support in Ballycroy. This is not the first time that George has come to the rescue. He has done so before, as has his brother Fr. Eamon.

Pat Campbell sponsored togs and socks. Pat is now a publican in Bangor Erris and a member of the Ballycroy club. Ballycroy G.A.A. is grateful to Coillte Teo for sponsoring a holiday in their holiday village in County Cavan. It is grateful to Martina Gallagher and Noreen Lally for raising funds for the club when they completed the course in Dublin ladies marathon. Kitty and T.J.Carey were also generous sponsors and have given the use of their premises, the Kiltane Tavern. Pat Campbell has also given the use of his premises, The Talk of The Town.

Ballycroy continues to keep the G.A.A. alive and knows that the emigrants will be ever helpful to the club in the future as they have been in the past.

THE NEW COMMUNITY PLAYING FIELD

The new Community Playing Field is progressing very well and is on target for completion in 2000.

BALLYCROY SUMMER FESTIVAL 1999

Once again the Ballycroy Summer Festival was a great success, socially and financially. Young and old enjoyed themselves. A feature of this year was the excellent staging of Brian Friel's 'Dancing at Lughnasa' in the Community Hall by the Cleveland Drama Group.

Next year's festival will feature the emigrant reunion and it is hoped that many will return home for the occasion. Next year will also, of course, be the millennium year and the Community Council is hoping to mark the event by the erection of a suitable monument adjacent to the centre of the parish. Further details will be announced later.

FAS

A FAS employment scheme, comprising 25 workers is due to start shortly and is intended to carry out improvements to local amenities and particularly at the centre of the parish.

THE PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN BALLYCROY

A very major refurbishment of Drumgallagh School and the re-landscaping of its grounds is now almost complete. It is now practically a new school. A complete re-painting of Shranamonragh School is about to start. We are hoping to get a new school near the church to replace the current school in Drumslide. We are currently looking, with officials of the Department of Education, at possible sites. The main thing we need now is lots of children who can benefit from the improvements in our three schools and keep them vibrant.

BAPTISMS

Ballycroy had a number of baptisms in the last year or so. Warmest congratulations to all the happy families. Sometimes it was a case of parents and family bringing their child to Ballycroy for the baptism, which was lovely and very much appreciated by those at home in Ballycroy. Those baptised were Anita Catherine Mc Ginty (baptised 11th. October 1998); Conor John Calvey (baptised 11th. October 1998); Neil John Tropman, Northhampton (baptised 28th. December 1998); Eilis Marie Leneghan, Doona West (baptised 7th. February, 1999); John Anthony Lynch, Crosshill (baptised 10th. April 1999); Padraic Joseph O Malley, Innishbiggle (baptised 21st. May 1999); Sasha Louise Doran, Sligo (baptised 1st. August 1999); Ryan David Conway, England (baptised 4th. August 1999); Aidan Kabir Conway, England (baptised 16th. August 1999); Lily Anna Conway, England (baptised 29th. August 1999); Michael Patrick Conway, Shranamonragh (baptised 26th.September 1999).

MARRIAGES

Four marriages took place in Ballycroy in the last year. Heartiest congratulations to all the happy couples. The happy couples were Margaret Mary Lynch, Drumside, and Adrian Eugene Carr, Donegal (married on 30th.December 1998); Maeve O'Donnell, Claggan and Dermot Adams, Westport(married on 27th. August 1999); Gabriel Caroline Conway, Shranamonragh and Glenn Francis Bourke, Ballinasloe married on 18th. September 1999); Mary Martina Greallis, Ballygaravan and Martin Moran, Newport married on 23rd October, 1999.

DEATHS

Quite a number of people have died in Ballycroy or come home to be buried here in the last year or so. Our sincere condolences to all the bereaved relatives and friends of the deceased. Those who died were John Cafferkey, Doona East (died 13th.September1998); Mary McGowan, Blenkeragh (died 30th.September 1998); Penelope Corrigan, Dooriel (died 30th. September 1998); Margaret Mc Manamon, Drumgallagh/Westport (died 2nd.October 1998); Michael Leneghan, Innishbiggle (died 15th. November 1998); Michael O'Donnell, Claggan O'Donnell (died 23rdDecember 1998); Ellen Keane, Creggane (died 1st.January 1999); Michael Calvey, Rosturk (died 24th.February 1999); Anthony O'Hora, Ballygarvan (died 5th.April 1999); James Moran, Drumslide (died 26th.April 1999); Annie Kate Keane, Doona West (died 1st.May 1999); Brigid Heston, Tallagh (died 9th.May 1999); Rose Masterson, Claggan Cafferkey (died 11th.May,1999); Tom Murray, Doona West (died 21st.May 1999); Julia Campbell, Doona East (died 22nd.May 1999); Patrick McDermott, Cuilmore, Westport (died10th.June1999); Ellen Rowland, Ballyveeney, (died11th.June1999); Ellen Greallis, Ballygaravan (died 15th.June 1999); Anthony Joseph Leneghan, Doona East (died16th.June1999); Joseph Conway, Fahy/Mulranny (died 22nd.June,1999); Mary Conway, Shranamonagh (died11th.July 1999); Tony Cafferkey, England/Aughness (died 22nd.July1999); Sarah Finn, Castlebar/Drumslide (died24th.July, 1999); John Leneghan, Innishbiggle (died24th.July1999); Anthony Ginty, England/Castlehill (died 4th.November 1998 and his ashes buried in Ballycroy 22nd.August 1999).

BALLYCROY PIONEERS

Ballycroy P.T.A.A.was formed thirty-six years ago and is still active! The pioneers are always looking for new members of course. At the moment they are planning for the children's Christmas party and Santa's visit on Sunday, December 19th to the community centre in Ballycroy. Some of Ballycroy's pioneers were in Croke Park on May 30th. Last to celebrate the centenary of the P.T.A.A.

SET DANCING

Every Tuesday night set dancing classes take place in the community centre in Ballycroy. The set-dancing enthusiasts started the classes a few years ago and always look forward to fun and craic on Tuesday nights. As a result of the set dancing the old tradition of the Strawboys was revived in the parish. The Ballycroy Strawboys are much sought after to perform at weddings and other functions. Who knows? They may call in on the Ballycroy reunion in the not too distant future.

BADMINTON

Badminton is played every Tuesday night in Ballycroy hall. This too is a great night of fun for everybody taking part. This is a game where young and old compete together. The badminton group plays from October to April and runs a league made up of three or four teams, depending on the number of players available for the league.

BALLYCROY TUG-O'-WAR - DOUBLE ALL IRELAND CHAMPIONS

Ballycroy Tug-o-War club brought a double All-Ireland victory to the parish this year after a drought of fifteen years.

The chairperson of the club is Michael Leneghan, the secretary Simon Walsh, the treasurer Paul Rowland, the P.R.O. Mairead Bradley and the trainer Paul Rowland.

The panel of thirteen men trained through all types of weather and brought a great beam of light to all in the community. The combination of youth and experience proved effective, especially in their all-Ireland achievements. Training commenced last February where the foundation was laid for this super strong Ballycroy team of 1999.

Ballycroy's first All-Ireland victory came on the 11th.of July in Creewood, County Meath where they won convincingly in the 640kg. competition. Their second All-Ireland success was on August 1st., at Killyough, County Monaghan, where they won the 560kg. Pull. Ballycroy also had victories at Connaught level. They were winners on 2nd.May at Bangor with the 600kg. team. They also won on 9th.May in county Leitrim with the 560kg. team and on the 16th.May in Clonbur, County Galway, with the 640kg. team.

The club's final pull of the season was at the open All-Ireland pull in Balloon on August 15th. Where Ballycroy wee victorious once more. This line of success has to be the biggest achievement in the history of Tug-o'-War in Ballycroy.

Ballycroy Tug-o'-War club is grateful to all those who supported it throughout its campaign and hopes for many more victories in the new millennium. The club will be holding a victory dance in the Community Centre during the Christmas.

FOROIGE

A Foroige club is going strong in Ballycroy, catering for the teenagers from twelve to eighteen years old. It meets weekly in the centre at 9pm. on Friday nights. Each time they meet, the youngsters engage in various sporting activities(football, volleyball, etc,). Occasionally they have outings to other clubs. Sometimes also they invite other clubs to Ballycroy for an evening of fun and games. An attractive feature of the club is that members themselves run it - with adult presence and support at all times.

WOMEN'S GROUP

Ballycroy Women's Group has been very active of the past year. Currently the women are engaged in bog craft classes. They are turning out very beautiful clocks set in bog oak. The group is in the process of producing a high quality Ballycroy Millennium calendar. It will be on sale by Christmas.

BALLYCROY TOURISM GROUP

This year the group's activities centered on the provision of a Teagasc Rural tourism Course. This was aimed at parishioners interested in becoming involved in tourism, particularly in light of the National Park. A guided tour of successful small enterprises in the county was included. Part two of the course takes place in January 2000. The availability of special grant aid and tax incentives for the development of tourism is also given a lot of attention to. The group is currently working to have all of Ballycroy declared a pilot area.

Returning emigrants are the backbone of tourism in Ballycroy. It is hoped that some of our emigrants will return to develop some enterprise as a result of us getting the National Park. Ballycroy tourism Group is associated with Erris Tourism Group and it also has members on the Park's Working group. The chairperson is Gerard Greallis, the secretary is Bridgie Togher, the treasurer is John Deane and the P.R.O. is Ted Conway.