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Award Recipients 2016


The Virginia Gallagher Mayo Person of the Year Award 2016

Mr Tommy Griffith.

Starting a business from scratch is not an easy task. There will always be niggling doubts as to whether you’re doing the right thing, is your idea really good enough, do you have what it takes to get it off the ground? Will you be able to keep bread and butter on the table while waiting for it to take off? But at least in 2005, when this year’s Virginia Gallagher Mayo Person of the Year embarked on the journey of making his cutting-edge idea into a successful business, Ireland was riding the crest of the Celtic Tiger wave and there was an overwhelming sense of confidence in the Irish economy which helped assuage any doubts. Roll the clock forward to 2008 and national confidence collapsed in spectacular fashion. However, this year’s winner was not deterred from turning his dream into reality. His business is based in his home-town of Balla and employs over 20 people, making a strong contribution to the local economy and rural Ireland’s ongoing struggle against emigration. His company has developed a national profile and a significant and growing international customer base, in Britain, mainland Europe, the USA and the Middle East. In this time of greater environmental awareness and the necessity of reducing carbon footprint and minimizing damage to our planet, recycling of products is critical. This year’s winner has devised a highly innovative, efficient and effective glass re-cycling process which is now used throughout the hospitality industry. It allows one hundred percent of glass bottle waste to be transformed into a valuable commodity that is used in new manufacturing, thereby providing sustainable environmental benefits including a significant reduction in energy costs, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to his business interests, our winner generously finds time to mentor other business people and budding entrepreneurs, particularly those in the North West region, by meeting with them to share his experience, advice and encouragement in various forums such as MeetWest, the GMIT Innovation Hub, the Entrepreneur Exchange forum and even his local schools. Last but not least, it must be noted that he is also an ardent supporter of the Mayo team in their quest to bring Sam to the best county in the west, and we hope that his dreams in this regard will also be fulfilled next September. Accordingly, despite the very difficult task of choosing a single winner from an extremely strong group of contenders, the Judges have agreed to bestow the title of 2016 Virginia Gallagher Mayo Person of the Year on Tommy Griffith from Balla.

Mayo Meitheal of the Year Award 2016: Meitheal award 2016 – Heroes for Hospice

As in previous years, the Meitheal award is bestowed on a nominated community group which, in the opinion of the Judges, best espouses the meaning of “meitheal”, a group formed to work together to achieve something for the benef it of their community. There is scarcely a family in Ireland that has not been touched by cancer and before the Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation was established 23 years ago there were no specialist care services for terminally ill patients in the region. Over the years the work of the hospice has been extended not just to cancer sufferers but also to pain and symptom control in patients with other conditions such as late stage Motor Neurone, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Heart Failure. Since 1992, the Palliative Care Teams have assisted in the care of over 8,500 patients and their families. However, the sterling work carried out by the foundation cannot happen without signif icant voluntary fund raising and this year’s Meitheal award winners took the true meaning of “Meitheal” to heart in establishing a charity group to raise much needed money for the Mayo Roscommon Hospice. The members of the group are drawn from the Ballina and north Mayo communities and came together to stage, with resounding success, the musical “Beyond the Barricade”. With a cast of 90 and many more in the background, ranging in age from 7 to over 70, and led by their wonderful director Lavinia Gilmartin, the entirely amateur members of this group have wowed audiences both here and abroad with their professionalism, talent, energy and enthusiasm and have raised an incredible €40,000 for the hospice through their efforts. However, as everyone involved knows, the marvellous production that “Beyond the Barricade” is, would not be so without endless hours of hard work and dedication on the part of not only the cast and director, but also many behind the scenes participants such as those involved in choreography, wardrobe, make-up, music, PR, administration, technical backup, the parents who ferried children to and from rehearsals and the numerous unsung heroes to generously put their hands in their own pockets to cover costs in order to ensure that the maximum amount of funds would be raised for the Mayo-Roscommon Hospice. Talents in many different spheres have been unveiled and the experience of being involved has been a chance for young and old in the communities of Ballina and north Mayo to develop and expand their horizons in previously unexplored ways. Life-long friendships have been forged and it is a wonderful example of the use of the arts music, song and dance – to bring together ordinary people of all ages and backgrounds in a common purpose in order to achieve something extraordinary. Accordingly, it is with great pleasure that the judges, from a list of very worthy nominees, have chosen as winners of the 2016 Meitheal award, Heroes for Hospice