The quilt originated in San Francisco; the American city hardest hit by AIDS. In November 1985, the city’s old Federal Building was covered with hundreds of cardboard signs bearing the names of people who had died because they had AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). The wind and the rain tore some of the cardboard names loose but people stood there for hours reading names.

The image of the cardboard placards eventually gave way to the vision of a unifying quilt in memory of those who died of AIDS. In Oct 1987 the famous massed display of the Quilt in front of the White House took place, and now it has grown too large ever to be displayed in its entirety. National Quilt Projects have been established in countries throughout the World.

The Quilt aims to change the way we deal with AIDS by creating a symbol that unites people in a shared positive understanding of what it really means for so many people to die. It raises awareness of HIV/AIDS, and each panel tells a story of the person who has died. Lovingly made each panel measures 6’ x 3’ the size of a standard grave.

The panels are sewn together in groups of eight to form the square (12 feet by 12 feet) quilts used for displays. The panels are made as an act of mourning and remembrance by people who were close to the person commemorated. They are richly decorated usually carrying the person’s name and details of their life, work, interests, hobbies etc., along with messages of love from their creators.

The Irish Names Quilt began in the Summer of 1990 in a Dublin city office. Joseph Carthy’s was the first panel of the Irish Quilt to be dedicated to a named individual. Revealing the names behind the statistics an important part of the Quilts impact. Over 34 friends and relatives were involved in making Joe’s panel which has a special importance in launching the Irish Quilt. To date there are 14 (12 feet by 12 feet) Quilts made and another 3 in the making. It is important to say here that not everyone who dies has a panel made.

The Irish Names Quilt has travelled around the World and our display in the Presentation College, Athenry touched the hearts of many. As the stories behind each panel began to unfold teachers and students alike fell to a hushed silence. With up to 140 students each time you could have heard a pin drop. My thanks to Mr. Gilbert McCarthy, Mr. Cloonan and all the teachers and a special thank you to the Pupils of the Presentation College for making our day. You were wonderful!

New Project Manager with Athenry ADC Anne Butler, was born in Galway city and has lived and worked there all her life. She is currently planning to build a new home in Corrandulla which, with lots of luck, she hopes will be ready to move into, in the Summer of 1999.

Anne is one of a family of eight children whose father died suddenly in 1992. She was educated at the Presentation Convent, Galway and after finishing her studies in Secretarial College she was offered her first job with a small company in the city. Later she moved on to work with the Western Health Board and in 1985 she decided to make a complete break from administration and train as a weaver. Anne spent the next two years learning the craft, selling the product and accepting commissions from companies and individuals. She then approached Druid Theatre Company regarding a post in their Box Office.

During her years there, Anne completed a year-long course with the Open University and went on to gain an evening Arts degree from University College, Galway. Whilst with Druid her position changed over the years from Box Office Manager to Administrator. The areas of responsibility she most enjoyed were Literary Management, Rural Tour Management and the schools programme, all of which focused her attention and interest more on community activity and development. The Druid archive, which she forged, was in recent years, donated to the Special Collections section of University College Galway library.

She resigned her post with Druid Theatre Company in January 1997 and has since worked with a small television production company, as assistant to the Production Manager of Galway Arts Festival and Tour Manager with a South African theatre company touring Ireland.

She has two beautiful children, Eoin 6 and Niamh 4 and is married to Tom Thornton for the past fifteen years. She has a great interest in the arts, loves sports, gardening and Connemara. She is delighted with her appointment last December as Project Manager with Enterprising Athenry Area Development Company and is enjoying the challenge.

Congratulations to Mr. Gerard Flaherty, a medical student from Gloves Athenry on his recent completion of a sponsored parachute jump from 10,000 feet in aid of Voluntary Services Abroad!

Voluntary Services Abroad is a student run organisation which places senior medical students on summer electives in disadvantaged countries each year. Mr Flaherty has just completed a one year B.Sc. (Hons.) degree in Anatomy for which he received first class honours. He was awarded a scholarship from the Health Research Board of Ireland to complete this course of study at NUI, Galway. He has already gained considerable university teaching experience as part of his B.Sc. degree.

The recipient of an entrance scholarship to NUI, Galway, Gerard has won numerous university academic prizes, including a gold medal in Pathology. He has carried out research in the Department of Radiology which he has presented at scientific meetings in the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin. He will spend this summer working in two hospitals in Minnesota, U.S.A. on a medical fellowship.

Next year he will enter his fifth medical year. Gerard is a past pupil of Presentation College, Athenry.

Mount Melleray Scout Centre, Feddaun, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford

Athenry Girl Guides was started in September I988 by Janice Coffey, Susan Nally, Francis Coffey and Martina Farragher.

On our first Christmas we held a fundraising Santa in Hansberry’s Hotel which was a great success. During the winter months the Guides learned all the skills which would enable them for their first camp the following summer.

They took part in “People in Need” fundraising in Galway by joining hands from Shop Street round Eyre Square. On this venture the girls met with movie star Daniel Day Lewis.

The long awaited first camp took place in June 1989 in the ground of St. Mary’s. The venue was ideal – it was safe and compact and ideal for guides on their first camping experience. It was a wonderful setting for our campfire and all the short stories that were to be told.

With the confidence gained and friend hips made at that first camp, the Guides went to camp at Corrandulla for a canoeing weekend. A week was spent at the outdoor adventure centre in Clonbur where the Guides took part in canoeing, sailing, hiking, orienteering and absailing.

Girl Guides having fun in St. Mary’s, the Square, Athenry

Now that we had gotten so adventurous, we were ready for ‘Melleray ‘91 an international camp held to celebrate 80 years of “Guiding” in Ireland. The Athenry Guides mixed with Guides from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chernobyl, where they, again, took part in lots of exciting adventures including an overnight survival hike with archery, backwoods camping, an adventure trail.

Now there was no stopping us. We joined with the guides from Corrandulla, Barna, Mervue and Riverside to hit the Isle of Man where we had a wonderful week of fun. Again, the Guides took to all the activities like seasoned campaigners including building their own raft and sailing out to sea.

The official opening of the new Civil Defence H.Q. in Clarke St., Athenry on Sunday 30th November. The opening ceremony was performed by the Junior Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Mr. Noel Treacy and the County Manager Mr. Donal O’Donoghue.

The Blessing was officiated by Fr. J .J . Cribbin, also present were the Galway County Chief Civil Defence Officer, Mr. Tom Casserly and the Unit Instructor, Mr. Sean Wallace.

There was representation from all the Civil Defence units in the county.

The Athenry Civil Defence started in 1989 and has carried out various duties, ranging from searches for missing persons to crowd management and first aid duty at special events.

The Athenry unit meets every Monday at 8 p.m. for training.

New members are always welcome, the age limits are 16 to 65 years.

The training consists of First Aid, Search Management, Crash Rescue, Rescue from buildings, Ambulance training, Fire fighting, radio communications and radio monitoring.

Prize recently held poster competition held by the Athenry Credit Union.

Left to Right: Leo Coffey, President of Athenry Credit Union (1997), Mrs Teresa Neylon with Fiona Rabbitte, Scoil Chroí Naofa: Mr Conrad Byrnes with Korina Duffy, Vocational School Athenry: Mr Gerry Ahern with Richard Naughton, Attymon N.S.: Mrs lta Higgins and Niamh Kennedy, Coldwood N. S.

Society has become much more sophisticated than it was in years gone by, but it also has become more complicated. ‘The core value of any society are its people and the appreciation for the  value of each person’s space in that society. Many people experience many different kinds of problems, older people feel more vulnerable and perhaps because they are less active, they experience a greater fear of crime. There is a need to care and Newcastle Community Alert Group have taken a big step in the right direction by acquiring a substantial grant under the scheme of Community Support for older people.

The grant is specifically for people over 65, living alone or in households made up exclusively of older people and other people who are dependent and vulnerable. This grant is intended for the provision of basic security equipment, such as window locks, door locks, door chains and security lighting. Presently every eligible person is being visited by local group members to identify their requirements and it is intended to have the security equipment installed by the end of December or very early in the new year.

This was the first time ever that this type of grant was made available and Bernard Kearney, Community Alert Development Officer, Muintir na Tíre informed a recent meeting that a more substantial grant will be available in 1998.

The people of Newcastle Community can be assured that every step will be taken in availing of every opportunity in the coming year for the betterment of all the people in our society. However it is important to bear in mind that it is recognised that one of the best means of crime prevention is a good neighbour. After isn’t it one of the oldest and greatest values given to us by our past generations. “Being a good neighbour”.

Perhaps it is a good thought for our New Year’s Resolutions?

Meanwhile a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas to everyone from Newcastle Community Alert Group. Core Group: Organiser- Florrie O’ Shea, Garda Liaison Officer – Kevin Devally and all the Members of Newcastle Community Council.

Athenry is now one of Teagasc’s most prominent centres. A major investment in new office facilities for the Research Programme and Mellows College together with new housing for livestock was undertaken in 1997. Currently the Athenry campus caters for young farmer training at Mellows College for some 80 full time students.

This is all part of Teagasc’s plan of building up Athenry as one of its major centres.

Teagasc’s full sheep production research programme.
National co-ordination of its Rural Development Advisory and Training Services.
Headquarters of County Galway Advisors Services.
Regional Headquarters for Specialist Advisers in Beef, Dairying, Sheep, Environment, Forestry, Education/Training, Sport Horses, Rural Tourism, Farm management, Pigs and Poultry.
One of the Department of Agriculture’s centres for evaluating new varieties of cereals, root crops, and grasses.

A small group of people have been investigating the possibility of twinning the town of Athenry. This investigation began in May 1997, from the promptings of Fr.  Tony King P.P.

From this early stage the town of Loperhet in Brittany sent overtures and personnel to Athenry to initiate a possible twinning between the two towns.

As the Athenry group had no experience of twinning, contact was made with towns that had successfully twinned. Westport and Tuam were contacted, people involved spoke of the advantages of twinning, they also emphasised the ongoing work and responsibility involved with such an undertaking.

Contact was also made with the Institute of Public Administration, the Government body responsible for town twinning. This body processes the application for twinning and also advises on financial assistance for twinning.

An advisory package has been obtained from the IPA, this package outlines the steps to twinning and an application form.

An international seminar in Dublin, organised by the IPA, was attended.  Delegates from European countries, Britain and Northern Ireland attended.  Workshops on various aspects of twinning were attended.

All contacts emphasised the cultural, economic, social and personal advantages of twinning.  However, a number of towns were contacted where the twinning process failed after initial enthusiasm and success.

The investigating group believe a number of reasons could be given for twinning failures:

1 .   Lack of support from the local community – the twinning process may have involved very few people, once their enthusiasm ran out the initiative died.

2.    Incompatibility of the twinning towns -this may be as a result of the twinning towns not investigating thoroughly.

3.    Language barrier – some towns may twin with French, German towns, this may result in the twinning process becoming merely a school twinning process, it becomes too narrow in focus, thus defeating the total twinning process which should involve the whole community.

The investigating group believe the initial stage of investigation is now complete.

A number of questions now need to be answered:

Why twin?

Is the community of Athenry willing to twin?  Is there support for the initiative?

With what country should Athenry be looking for a twinning partner?  Twinning does not have to be with a mainland European country.

Who is going to be responsible for the day-to-day running of the twinning?

How much is the twinning going to cost?

Some initiatives need to be undertaken:

The formation of a wide based community group, the present investigating group do not believe they have the right or authority to make the major decisions that have to be made in relation to the twinning initiative.

The town of Loperhet are still interested in twinning with Athenry – a decision in relation to this town needs to be made, as they have made contact again this September.

If you are interested in this twinning project and are willing to become actively involved contact Gerry Doherty or Marie Gardner through the ADC office.

Hot on the tails of the likes of Galway’s’ “Macnas” and “Moceolas” are Athenry’s very own “TURAS”. The original idea began in l994 when volunteers took part in the Athenry Medieval Festival Parade as drummers organised by the Athenry Women’s Group Festival.

Declan Rynne, Sean Purcell, Aiden Archer and others provided the accompaniment of drums for the past two years until Sean Purcell decided to create “TURAS”. Sean says “The idea is for a new, young team of local people who are interested not only in drumming but in music, medieval crafts and other kinds of projects to be created not only during the summer but throughout the year”. With the kindness of the Athenry Women’s Group six new Medieval   Battle Drums were recently supplied to “TURAS” for this year’s festival, with hopefully more in the pipeline.

An extra team of captains, Nicola McGhee, Aoife Barrett, Jacinta Jennings, Paula Flannery, Breda Ward and Debbie Hynes, all from Cullairbaun have worked extremely hard and are now part of the “TURAS” team. We are hoping that “TURAS” in the future will create new projects for later in the year, such as on the “Eve of All Hallows”, planned the Bank Holiday, Monday 28th of October with music in the square, “TURAS” Mummers and Wran Witches, sausages, baked potatoes, etc. and “Turas May Day Parade” on Monday 5th May 1997) with May-Pole, events and a May Queen. “These are just ideas at the moment” says Sean, “but I am hoping that we will create more Medieval, Traditional and Cultural events that may become part of Athenry’s heritage status”. Anyone aged 14 and over wishing to take part in any event, volunteers, musicians, drummers, dancers, etc.; send your name, address, phone no., age, and any other information to: “TURAS”, Sean Purcell, Ballygurraun, Athenry, Co. Galway.