President praises community’s care for its senior citizens

Sian Moloughney

Sian Moloughney

The dedicated planning, work and community building of the people of Ballymacarbry was praised by President Mary McAleese on her visit to the village on Monday morning.

President McAleese, who was in Ballymacarbry to officially open a housing scheme for the elders of the area, said that the project will enrich the community.

“You have not just delivered houses, you have delivered a way of being,” she praised the BEHAL committee who oversaw the Cluain Cairbre development.

Ballymacarbry Elders Housing Association were behind the development of a 15-home community for elder people. The first residents began to move in this time last year and now the homes are all occupied.

“Not one euro was wasted here. This is going to enrich the community,” President McAleese said. “You don’t make a community by doing nothing - you make a community by doing what you did here. You are the people that deserve all the applause today, you people who did all the work. The evidence is here, these are people who care.”

The President said the community leaders had not just delivered houses, but a way of being, and she went on to say that she hoped the younger members of the community who were present will take that message from their mams and dads and that their generation will grow up to be community builders.

Chairman of BEHAL, and local Waterford County Councillor, MJ O’Ryan paid tribute to the presidency of Mary McAleese, during which he said she had built many bridges. “We too have been busy building,” he said.

Cllr O’Ryan paid tribute to all who worked on the scheme, and Waterford County Council for making the funding available.

“We wanted a system where our elders feel secure in their homes, are not segregated from society and are rewarded for the effort of their lives,” he explained the thought behind the scheme. “We hope to be a shining beacon for other communities to follow suit.”

The occasion of the first visit from a serving President of Ireland to Ballymacarbry was a great occasion in the village. President McAleese was greeted by the children from Ballymacarbry National School, all waving the Irish flags they had made themselves in a riot of green, white and gold.

She began her visit by dropping in to the home of Jack and Maura McHugh in Cluain Cairbre, then unveiled the commemoration name stone for the development.

Presentations to the President, to mark the special occasion, were made by Eileen Ryan, treasurer of BEHAL, who presented a photograph of the Schillig Lakes, by local photographer Michael Wall. Flowers were presented by Joan Wall, before Tom Guiry took the President and her husband, Senator Martin McAleese, to meet with all the residents of Cluain Cairbre.

Among the dignitaries who assembled with the local crowds were Chairman of Waterford County Council Liam Brazil, Mayor of Dungarvan Theresa Wright, Waterford County Manager Ray O’Dwyer, as well as members of Waterford County Council, and South Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath.

Two of the residents of Cluain Cairbre told The Nationalist how much they enjoyed living in their new homes.

Mary Desmond was the first person to move into the scheme, in September last year. “It’s a lovely place to live, for senior citizens. We have every facility, the community is great and the rent is very good,” she said. She was also pleased to report that last winter, during the snow, her new home was ‘warm as toast.’

Jenny Prendergast said she had loved her own home, but as a widow for more than 30 years she said it was time to make a change. “I’m here about nine months and it couldn’t be nicer,” she said. “This is a very nice community. Today was a lovely day, the president was lovely.” Jenny was delighted to have been able to shake President McAleese’s hand.

The residents of Cluain Cairbre come together with other people of a similar age in the locality every Thursday, in the new community centre which is next to the development. They are given a hot lunch and then enjoy an afternoon of cards, bingo, singing and music, and some floor games as well as some gentle exercise in winter.