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> Sorcha Nic Aodha
While the village post office, shop and pub closed in recent years, and many of the youth emigrated, the town was simultaneously revitalised when people from all over the world started settling in this small Galway town. One organisation has taken it upon themselves to ensure that this is a town of welcomes, a town where everyone feels at home – Ballinderreen Community Centre.
Ballinderreen Community Centre is at the very heart of the community, with a variety of activities from art, dance, pilates and language classes, to sports and music events creating a club culture in the centre.
A beautifully maintained space, the entire community takes responsibility for its care and upkeep, ensuring an enjoyable space for the many activities that take place there. Social inclusion is at the heart of everything that the organisation does, being awarded the Galway County Council Cathaoirleach Award for Social Inclusion in 2015 and in 2018, the Galway County Council Cathaoirleach Award for the best Community Facility in the County.
“We wish to continue on that journey,” says Breandán Ó’Loinsigh, who, together with a committee, has created Balinderreen Sur Le Mer, a community festival taking place from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 October.
Supported under Galway 2020’s Small Towns Big Ideas (STBI) programme, the community centre’s project aims to celebrate all that is unique about the area and its community.
“We are all inclusive in our activities, particularly engaging with ethnic minorities, Senior Citizens, Nursing Home residents and people with learning disabilities,” says Breandán. “The STBI initiative has helped to bring the community together through ‘brain storming’ meetings and people thinking outside of their normal activities. We have already discovered that there are many hidden treasures in our locality that we didn’t know about, such as crafts people living in our area and they will be contributing to our weekend’s activities,” he adds.
Breandán hopes that the project will serve as a ‘springboard’ for future events, acting to galvanise the community spirit that already exists in the area.
As a part of Ballinderreen Sur Le Mer Weekend Festival, events will run from Friday to Sunday. Throughout Friday, there will be a seniors’ lunch, an exhibition of large houses of county Galway, a talk by local Historian Sean Burke, and the official opening of the weekend.
On Saturday, there will be a poetry reading by poet Mícheál Kearney, a photography arts and crafts exhibition by the Brothers of Charity, and a Shoreline Walk, followed by Oyster Tasting by Kelly’s Oysters. There will also be an Oyster Heritage Lecture, a demonstration of Traditional Oyster Boat Making, and a concert with Don Stiffe in the evening
Sunday sees Urbane Sketching with artist Róisín Curé, followed by Intercultural Gastronomy tasting and ending the festival will be an Irish music and dance extravaganza.
All are welcome to join the Ballinderreen community for this celebration of community.
For more details on the weekend, log onto ballinderreen.net.
See what’s in store for Galway 2020’s Small Towns Big Ideas programme, here.
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> Jo Lavelle