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President Mary McAleese official opening of Mayo Abbey Housing

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President Mary McAleese Visit

President of Ireland, Mary McAleese
Speech at the official opening Mayo Abbey Housing Project – Cnoc na nIúr.



President of Ireland, Mary McAleese and her husband Senator Martin McAleese
Officially opening Mayo Abbey Housing Project – Cnoc na nIúr.


Welcome from
John Daly, Chairman
Mayo Abbey Community Council

I welcome you all to Mayo Abbey on this special occasion, where the
President of Ireland, Mary McAleese and her husband Senator. Martin McAleese are here to officially open our latest development –
Cnoc na nIúr.

I especially want to formally welcome all the residents of Cnoc na nIúr. 12 houses are now occupied with 3 more due to be occupied shortly.

Back on 7th May 1997, the Community Council held a public meeting in Mayo Gaels GAA club house. The focus of the meeting was to look at the changing trends in our community and see how we could influence those for the long term benefit of all.

The main points to come from this well attended meeting were the need for:

  • Childcare, youth and elderly services
  • Community Transport
  • Social housing and serviced sites
  • Training and education

All those points raised on that night have been central to our planning and development since.

Today, we are proud to be officially opening our latest development, Cnoc na nIúr. I would like to thank the Housing Committee for 11 years of hard work and dedication in bringing this project to completion. Later today, you are invited to visit some of our other developments:
Abbey Tots Childcare Centre, Mayo Organic Centre, Bishop O’Healy Resource Centre which is the base for many of our other community services including training facilities, laundry, transport and our meals service for senior citizens.

Each person believes that they are living in the “best of times” and in the “worst of times”. We look around at the difficulties and challenges that our community is experiencing and we wonder if history has taught us “anything”. We question if there is indeed “something” still worth working for. Well there are many examples of what our ancestors worked for in Mayo Abbey and it is our duty to ensure we have a place that we are proud to live in and invite people to visit. The beauty of this amazing parish is the resilience of the people who have lived here and still live here. So it is on your behalf that I welcome our
President, the President of Ireland Mary McAleese and her husband Senator Martin to Mayo Abbey.

I have had many dreams and aspirations, one was to be Chairman of Mayo Abbey Community Council but having the opportunity to welcome the President of Ireland surpasses any of my dreams and expectations. I would like to thank Mayo Abbey parish community and especially Canon Austin Fergus for without him we would not have the facilities we have today. Ger Maguire our manager is an example of how to mix professional and voluntary careers and he has the ability to encourage, support and motivate those along side him. Mayo Gaels GAA club is an integral part of Mayo Abbey as are the many other organisations from Ballyglass to Facefield and surrounding communities. Later in the programme Ger will acknowledge those more closely associated with this project.

The role of Chairman is to ensure we have a community that endeavours to ensure the wheel is continually turning and I am a cog in that wheel.

Our mission and vision is on our website

I hope the visit of
President McAleese will give us the confidence to continue the good fight and hopefully we can create enough employment to offer our people work in their own parish.

According to Douglas Pagels “A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.”  and President McAleese is a friend to Mayo Abbey for sure.

Go Raibh Maith Agaibh
Proud Chairman
John Daly


Thank you from
Ger Maguire, Chairman
Mayo Abbey Housing Committee

Most major community projects don’t happen over night and Mayo Abbey housing project is no exception to this. The seed for this project was sown back in the year 2000 when Mayo Abbey community council appointed 3 people to look into housing needs in the community. Those 3 people sought others to form a committee with them through notices in the church newsletter and local papers. There was an excellent response and soon after a housing committee was formed. The first job the committee set upon was research.

This research highlighted a number of points

  • There was an interest and need for housing identified in the community.

  • Support was available from Department of the Environment.

  • Mayo County Council were interested in supporting communities to develop their own social housing projects and were also open to considering joint development.

Our research also highlighted that some community housing initiatives in other areas had not been able to proceed due to the following reasons, local farmers were not prepared to make sites available and
local village residents were not supportive of such developments.

The committee considered all the information from the research carried out, and were aware that a project of this scale would take years of voluntary effort with the support and good will from many people. After considering all the above points, and consulting with Community Council, the Committee decided to move forward with the project.

Following further talks with Mayo County Council agreement was reached on a joint development consisting of 12 community houses (Mayo Abbey Housing Association), 5 social houses and 4 affordable sites (Mayo County Council). Following the design, planning and approval of funding, contractor Seamus Regan commenced construction.

I wish to thank all our housing committee members past and present, for their valued commitment. On behalf of our committee, I wish to acknowledge all those who have contributed in various ways to the success and completion of the project.

First of all the local farmer who agreed to sell the land for the project.
There was only one suitable site for this type of project and we were very fortunate that this site was owned by Seamus Hughes who has previously supported other community projects over the years.
More recently Seamus donated an area of land which separated the housing development from the Resource Centre and the Organic Garden. Also an area separating Abbey Tots Childcare Centre from the Mayo Gaels GAA club. This allowed a landscaping project to be carried out which successfully bonds together and greatly enhances all aforementioned projects. So, a huge debt of gratitude to Seamus for making this project possible.

I wish to acknowledge the local residents without whose support and good will, the project would not have been possible. Mayo Abbey Community Council have been supported by Mayo County Council on a number of projects over the years resulting in good positive working relations been developed between the two. After carrying out our research on the best way to develop the housing project, it was obvious that a joint development between Mayo County Council and Mayo Abbey was the best option. Thanks to the former County Manager Des Mahon whose initial commitment of support for our project was very important. Thanks also to the present County Manager Peter Hynes for his continued commitment and support right up to this present day. Throughout the project our main link with the County Council and the Department of the Environment was Padraig Flanagan. Special thanks to Padraig and the staff in the housing office who were a constant support to us all through the project. They always took the time to go through everything in detail with us and were always willing to consider our view points. Thanks also to Geeta Keena and all her staff in the architect’s office. Several staff from this office worked with us on the project at various stages. Thanks to all for the quality of the work, courtesy and co-operation throughout the project.

Further thanks to all County Councillors and area engineers in the Castlebar, Claremorris and Ballinrobe areas for their support to our development. I also wish to acknowledge the Department of the Environment for the huge investment in this project. For Mayo Abbey, delivering this project in partnership with Mayo County Council has been a very positive experience.

Thanks to Seamus Regan, his foreman John McCormack, their staff and all sub-contractors for the high standard of workmanship, also to the staff of ESB and Eircom, for their co-operation throughout the project.

I wish to thank all the staff from the Irish Council for Social Housing for their invaluable advice and support from the planning stages right up to the day to day management.

Like with other Community Council initiatives FÁS has made a major contribution to this project. I would like to acknowledge all the staff here at the centre, Geraldine Glendon and all the staff in the FÁS office in Castlebar, for there invaluable work and support to the housing committee. Community Council staff employed through FÁS schemes over the last 18 years have played a key role working in partnership with our voluntary committees and other agencies. This partnership has resulted in Mayo Abbey Community Council creating 25 jobs excluding FÁS CE employees.

Thanks also Mayo Gaels GAA club for their support and co-operation also to HSE West for their input into the development. To Tóchar Valley Network and South West Mayo Development Company for their support in the initial research.

Also our accountants Naughton Murtagh & Co., our bank AIB Castlebar and our solicitor Patrick J. McEllin & Son.

Our Community Council has given constant support and assistance at all stages of the project and we are delighted to deliver this project on their behalf.

Finally thanks to John Daly and all Community Council members for their support and assistance throughout the project.

With great appreciation,
Ger Maguire

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