Mid Louth Independent - - NEWS - By ALI­SON COMYN

THE High­lanes Gallery echoed to the mag­nif­i­cent strains of the Drogheda Male Voice Choir last Tues­day night, as fam­ily and friends of some of the town’s finest cit­i­zens gath­ered for the 2018 Drogheda May­oral awards.

Mem­bers of the Slane Branch of the ONE pro­vided a colour party, march­ing flags up what used to be the aisle of the former Fran­cis­can church, adding to the al­most ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal air to the event.

Louth County Coun­cil Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Joan Martin spoke with ob­vi­ous pride about the venue - call­ing it ‘a com­mu­nity space for the peo­ple of Drogheda’ be­fore Mayor Pio Smith be­gan the task of hon­our­ing those who have con­trib­uted to the com­mu­nity, so­cial, busi­ness, hu­man­i­tar­ian and sporting life of the town.

‘It is hard to beat that en­trance, and it sets the tone for a cel­e­bra­tion to recog­nise some of the qual­i­ties and val­ues we hold dear in our so­ci­ety to­day,’ said the First Cit­i­zen.

Six­teen awards were given out in to­tal; ten to in­di­vid­u­als and six to lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Lo­cal au­thor Aaron Fin­negan re­ceived the first award for his lit­er­ary achieve­ments, and the part he has played in the dra­matic arts in Drogheda. His sis­ter Dawn said she was de­lighted to take it for him.

Next to be hon­oured was Brother Christo­pher ‘Sonny’ Kier­ans, who was recog­nised for his life­time of ded­i­cated ser­vice to the church and the hon­our this has brought to the town.

Un­able to at­tend, his brother Dec Kier­ans said it was the ul­ti­mate achieve­ment to be awarded for your civic du­ties by your peers.

‘He never ex­pected it, and hope­fully we will be able to bring it over to him in Rome in May to cel­e­brate.’

Scotch Hall se­cu­rity guard Earl Gor­man re­ceived his award in recog­ni­tion of his brav­ery and pres­ence of mind while as­sist­ing a woman in dif­fi­culty in the Rive Boyne in Au­gust 2016.

The mod­est hero he did what­ever any­one else would have done. ‘It’s lovely to be hon­oured by the town, but the real heroes are the river res­cue guys who do it 24/7.’

Fin­tan Mc­Carthy re­ceived his award in recog­ni­tion of the huge con­tri­bu­tion made to the peo­ple of Drogheda through his in­volve­ment in GAA, her­itage and sup­port for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and older peo­ple.

‘I love help­ing my com­mu­nity and we should have more, in­stead of peo­ple sit­ting at home watch­ing telly,’ said the vi­brant 80-year-old, who started St Ni­cholas GFC 46 years ago.

Au­gus­tinian Fr Colm O’Ma­hony was hon­oured for the con­tri­bu­tion he makes along with the other Au­gus­tini­ans to so­cial care and jus­tice in Drogheda, in par­tic­u­lar the fam­i­lies of road traf­fic and sui­cide vic­tims.

‘Drogheda is close to my heart, and I have been em­braced by the town,’ said the Cork na­tive who at­tended with his mother Mar­garet.

‘It is nice to see that the work we all do is still seen as valid and im­por­tant.’

Ger­ard Fay was awarded for the 349 marathons he has run for char­ity, es­pe­cially the €135,00 he has raised for Cys­tic Fi­bro­sis Ire­land.

‘I got an award at the CF con­fer­ence in Dun­dalk last week too, so I am very proud,’ he told the Drogheda In­de­pen­dent. ‘It is ten years since I won the Louth Per­son of the Year award, and I will not stop un­til I reach the 500 marathons in Dublin next year, and as long as CF needs funds, I’ll keep run­ning.’

An­other proud man is Jim Gor­man, who got his award for his mas­sive con­tri­bu­tion to sport and young peo­ple in Drogheda.

‘It is very hum­bling and af­ter 60 years in­volved in sport in the town, it is a great hon­our to re­ceive some­thing,’ he said proudly.

‘It was 38 years ago we started Holy Fam­ily Box­ing Club, and I look back on some of the 2,500 young peo­ple we have had through our hands, and I am like a proud fa­ther to them all.’

Busi­ness­man Malachy McCloskey said he felt he didn’t de­serve his award in recog­ni­tion of the eco­nomic and cul­tural con­tri­bu­tion he made and his cham­pi­oning of en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity.

‘I’m very hon­oured to get it, but the favourite part of my life in Drogheda is be­ing with my wife Ann,’ he said ro­man­ti­cally. ‘We are to­gether 58 years in June, and she is the great­est hon­our I have.’

Naas na­tive P J O’Brien says he is par­tic­u­larly proud to get the nod from his adopted town of Drogheda.

‘I’m here 29 years, and I’m shocked and proud to have been ac­cepted so warmly,’ said the para­medic, hon­oured for his ded­i­ca­tion to the Na­tional Am­bu­lance Ser­vice.

‘I learned quickly about the FAA said, but no­body cares which side of the town you’re from, as long as the am­bu­lance ar­rives!’

Mem­bers of the O.N.E. and Coun­cil­lors with award par­tic­pants at the May­oral Awards at the High­lanes Gallery

Rose­mary Fay , Mayor Pio Smith , Ger­rard Fay, Jim Fay

Mayor Pio Smith Pre­sent­ing John Rooney, Alan Floyd and Ger­rard Ka­vanagh, Ir­ish Red Cross.

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