Muintir na Tire 1937-2007
Ballykisteen Hotel, Co. Tipperary
Friday 9th & Saturday 10th March, 2007
Report From the Conference & Photos
Muintir na Tíre this year celebrates 70 years in existence. The organisation held their Annual Conference this year at Ballykisteen Hotel & Golf Resort in Limerick Junction on Friday and Saturday, the 9th and 10th of March. “The Tipperary People” was invited to report on proceedings.After a lovely dinner on the Friday, we were addressed by Éamon Ó Cuív, Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The Minister paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of Tipperary man Tom Fitzgerald who has done so much for Muintir and his community over the years. He is well deserving of such appreciation.
Another speaker Éamonn De Stafort outlined the spirit of Muintir on rural development. He concluded by saying:
“We will be judged not by our plans and aspirations but by what we have performed and carried to fruition”.
Then the mood lightened and we were treated to a fantastic display of Irish dancing and music. This was appropriate because Muintir is an organisation that takes pride in our own unique native cultural achievements.
Muintir President Margaret O’Doherty welcomed us to Saturday’s programme with an address, which referred to Mark Tierney’s book on Canon Hayes, the movement’s founder. This book, the President remarked, “has become our Bible in Muintir”. She stressed the importance of the wider community in nurturing all of its members, quoting an African proverb: “It takes a village to rear a child”.
Fergus Finlay, CEO of Barnardos, followed on with his discussion of “The Child and the Family”. He referred to the Proclamation of 1916’s aim to
“cherish all the children of the nation equally” and wondered who exactly those children will be in 2016. He concluded by quoting the Chilean poet Gabrea Mistral’s poem “His Name Is Today”: “Many things we need can wait but the child cannot”.
Sean Healy of CORI’s discourse was entitled “The Adult and the Community” and he focussed on the people who seem to be excluded from Ireland’s Celtic Tiger-driven success. He pointed out that there is, despite our wealth, a lack of well-being in current Irish society and a lack of fairness.
Research consultant with the Citizens Information Board, Michael Browne opened our eyes to the situation of older people in our society whom he preferred to call our “elders”.
“There is much that needs to be done to involve older people more fully in society and utilise the massive experience and resources” they have for the betterment of community life.
Dr Tony Varley of NUI Galway’s talk was an overview of the history of Muintir na Tíre. Frank McCarthy, Project Manager, E-Volve Project, gave a presentation outlining the background to the project. It is targeted at those working with people with disabilities and the elderly. It sets up the online publication of community information and promotes communication through email and mobile messaging.
One of the most enjoyable discourses of the whole event was given by Bansha man and Governor of Mountjoy Prison, John Lonergan. He is old enough to remember Canon Hayes. He views the campaigning cleric as “a prophet, a leader, a charismatic”. We see today in society evidence of the very things he prophesised. Today society serves the economy but it should be the other way around. There was never a “Golden Era” when everything was rosy – each decade had its challenges and problems. Build from the ground up – the foundation is the local community. Canon Hayes predicted we would become obsessed with materialism – how true that is today! The shopping centre has taken over from the community. Shopping malls are our new cathedrals. People need a sense of belonging. Edmund Rice remarked:
“If we command our wealth we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us we shall be poor indeed.”
Mr Lonergan continued:
“People who challenge and criticise are called whingers and moaners but they are necessary for change. Never be satisfied with what you get. Go and look for more”.
Some people have too much, others too little. Life isn’t fair. Don’t forget:
“You don’t make it on your own, others help to get you there”.
Canon Hayes walked the walk; he put his own principles into action. People today are overly negative. We are a miserable lot. A schoolgirl came home one day to tell her mother she had got 19 out of 20 spellings correct in a test that day in class. Instead of commending her achievements, the mother negatively asked:
“Which one did you get wrong?” Can we learn a lesson from that experience to always accentuate the positive? Encourage your children. Don’t always be pointing out what they’re doing wrong. In life generally, employ a kind word, a kind smile, a kind gesture. Make kindness part of your everyday experience. If kindness doesn’t work, nothing will. There’s no need to preach your virtues if you live by them. Mr Lonergan concluded by quoting a poem, which read in part: “I’d rather you walked with me than show me the way”.
His talk was a very positive, good-humoured, up building part of the programme yet he got his message across in a most effective way.
After Rosaline Drew, Director of Services for Muintir, gave an update on current Muintir activity, there were presentations from two Muintir communities, Ballyduff in Co. Waterford and Kilworth, Co. Cork. Liam Kelly, Co-ordinator of Community Alert, encouraged us to “be active, be alert, be involved”. Vanessa Clarke summed up the programme for us and President Margaret O’Doherty had the final word with a plea to make post office closures in rural areas an election issue.
The two-day’s programme was very enjoyable and it’s obvious that the people involved in Muintir na Tíre take pride in their work and in their community and despite the changing environment in modern Ireland they firmly believe they have a role to play. Community spirit and helping your neighbour are principles that will never die.
[extract from Tipperary Voice, article by Jason O’Donnell]
A Selection Photos From the Conference held in March, 2007