The Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan spent most of last Friday, June 20 in Leitrim, he said he was honoured to attend the openings of so many cultural, heritage and art initiatives in the county.
He officially opened the cottage of ‘Margaret of New Orleans’ outside of Carrigallen, congratulated Corn Mill Theatre Company on winning the All Ireland Drama Award, opened the Sean MacDiarmada Summer School in Kiltyclogher and launched the Leitrim Village Waterways Ireland MidSummer Festival on the one day.
It was a beautiful day and the three locations celebrated the minister’s offical visit with traditional Irish music and local entertainment.
The recreated cottage of Margaret Gaffney, born in Tully, Carrigallen in 1813 is an astounding project that took a huge amount of hard work and dedication from the community. It honours a woman who was orphaned at 9 years of age in Baltimore, but went on to champion the orphans and the poor of New Orleans. She offered her services to the orphanage of the local Sisters of Charity where she found her place and became manager of the facility. Margaret became famed for her lifelong charity for the destitute. When she died she had a state funeral in New Orleans and she was the first woman for have a statue erected to her in the USA. There is currently a movement on to canonise Margaret of New Orleans.
Minister Deenihan commented, “This project is evidence of what can happen when a community comes together and invests their time and skills to enhance a project such as this. This has happened because the community in Carrigallen have pride in their local culture and heritage. They are a great example to other communities around the country. Margaret of New Orleans was an extraordinary individual who left an enduring legacy in New Orleans, and I’m delighted that strong links are being forged between County Leitrim and the United States in her memory.” He said it was an attractive tourist attraction. Maura Williamson informed the crowd you could see three provinces from the cottage and Cathaoirleach Paddy O’Rourke said the Minister’s visit acknowledged and recognised the hard work that went into the project. Minister Deenihan unveiled a lectern which has information about the famous Margaret, it was designed by Tony Fahy and the stonework was done by Ciaran O’Rourke.
The Minister made a quick stop and photocall to congratulate members of the Corn Mill Theatre Group on winning the RTE All Ireland Drama Festival saying it was “Leitrim’s Sam.”
The Minister finished his day in the county launching the Leitrim Village Mid-Summer Festival in association with Waterways Ireland.
The festival was held over the weekend and celebrated the 20th anniversary of the re-opening of the Shannon-Erne Waterway with entertainment, music, sports and water activities.
Minister Deenihan commented, “This weekend’s festival is proof positive that community and interagency co-operation has a very meaningful effect on the development and promotion of the waterway resource. Events such as this are supported all along the waterways network and are estimated to contribute €8 to €18 million to the local economies. That is why I and my Government colleagues will continue to support the work of Waterways Ireland and through it the many communities and businesses along Ireland’s wonderful waterways.”
While launching the Sean Mac Diarmada Summer School in Kiltyclogher the Minister announced €150,000 for the MacDiarmada homestead in advance of the centenary of 1916, full details on page 6 this week. The launch was attended by relations or Sean MacDiarmada. The minister praised the Summer School noting it attracted the best historians in the country.