For a flavour of the evening, please click here
March 10th was the evening of the Yew Tree Ball in the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin, where Maureen was the belle of the ball. Surrounded by family and friends, and those who told of her wonderful achievements, she was deservedly fêted.
(Left to Right) Suzanne Ryder, Breege Donohoe, Maureen Lally and Margaret Tiernan
Sister Maureen Lally has worked in the area of community development for over forty years, mainly in her native county, while extending her rich talents to a live connection between Michigan State University and Ireland. Her CV also covers some time she spent in Eastern Europe, in their early years of independence. But in Mayo itself, Maureen is known for all of the communities she has supported in practical ways to enable them to find a hopeful future in the face of rural isolation. Her formula is simple, listen to people, work with them, and keep building strength upon strength. Her employment by Teagasc (State Agriculture and Food Development Authority) as a Home Farm Management Advisor, saw her go into the farmyard and the household, improving people’s methods and raising their standards of living. For nearly twenty years, Maureen has worked as Co-Ordinator of the Tóchar Valley Rural Community Network, which is a chain of local communities through rural Mayo. Here, she pioneered the bringing together of 18 communities from Balla to Murrisk, and helped to stem the predicted decline of agriculture and rural life in the area.
Maureen in the Training Kitchen of Mayo Abbey
A local newspaper, The Mayo News, reveals that the adjudicators said that Sr. Maureen Lally, through her quiet influence, relentless positivity and loyalty has contributed much to her native county. In the words of one prominent academic with whom she has worked: “In a world where the loud and boisterous seem to reign supreme, we acknowledge and hail the work of a humble and reserved enabler, a true champion of the people.” When announcing the prestigious Mayo Person of the Year award today, the award organiser, Mayo Association Dublin, stated: “She had a firm belief that no community on its own can achieve as much as a network of communities working together toward shared goals.” Sr Maureen also spearheaded the three-day Summer Solstice Walking Festival along the Croagh Patrick Trail beginning in Balla, meandering through the unspoilt landscape and rich heritage of central Mayo. She has been instrumental in bringing the Community Futures programme to Mayo, a proactive process where all community members have a voice in decision making and planned development.
Maureen in the IT Training Room in Mayo Abbey
This was the year that Maureen was celebrated by the Mayo Association, who recognised her wonderful, selfless contribution to giving people in rural communities the skills and vision to allow them remain in their communities, forging a life there. Maureen is only the fourth woman to be honoured as Mayo Person of the year.
Maureen, we congratulate you!
To see a video of Maureen’s day to day ministry click here
Image One: Paul Sherwood, Western People
Text and images: Suzanne Ryder rsm