Leitrim Guardian Person of the Year 2020 Noel McPartland from Drumshanbo handed over the trophy to one of this year's Persons of the Year Caitriona Clarke, who was home on a visit from New York
This virus and the resulting closure of society has gone on for much longer than many people ever anticipated.
We have all known people who have been badly and sadly impacted directly by the virus. We must remember those left behind, who have lost family members and loved ones and how lucky we all are to be still here.
The pandemic has had a number of silver linings, one of which includes the inspiration for more open and active community engagement.
We stayed together while apart. We learned the value of what is near and dear, and it reinforced the importance of good neighbourliness. Many members of society re imagined and redefined the concept of the Meitheal to provide support where it was needed. We came together as a community. This is exactly what our four recipients of the Leitrim Guardian 2021 People of the Year award have done throughout their lives.
Catriona and Seamus Clarke based in NY were chosen for their outstanding service abroad in New York while Peter McHugh and Andy McGovern were chosen for their outstanding service here in Leitrim.
Bláíthín Gallagher, Editor of the 2021 issue says, “The Leitrim Guardian 2021 People of the Year are a fantastic example of people who look at their community, spot gaps and find a way to fill these gaps with generous support.
“They unselfishly give their time to society. Actions speak louder than words and when you see the active contribution to community building that our four recipients of the award have given, you may understand the great sorrow of the Leitrim Guardian committee in not being able to honour them in a way that is befitting for such accolades”.
Tommy Moran, Chairman of the committee for the 2021 publications says, “The committee have agreed that we must mark this achievement in a public and physical gathering, and we will do this when health and safety permits. These four honourable people will get their day out. We are all looking forward to a time when it is possible to do this safely and we can share in their glory and show them how proud we are of them and all they have achieved”.
A gathering is planned for the summer in New York, the Leitrim GAA dance (Covid restrictions permitting), during the summer, where Caitriona and Seamus will be honoured for their work with the Aisling Centre and to mark them being Leitrim Guardian People of the Year. The Clarkes and the many volunteers associated with the Aisling Centre, have been as busy this year as in 2020, ensuring that the people in need are
being catered for, which requires continual fund raising and amazing community minded effort by all concerned.
Caitriona, as Chairperson of the Aisling Centre, is the steady hand that guides that voluntary effort, as well as the Sláinte 2020 umbrella organisation to which all the volunteers belong. It has now become Slainte 2021.
What is particularly helpful to the whole movement, is the fact that Caitriona and Seamus are particularly well known in the Yonkers and New York areas, as the proprietors of the J P Clarke saloon, as well as their involvement in the New York Leitrim Society and several other committees in both areas.
They are, also, of course, the very generous sponsors of the Leitrim GAA teams here at home, while also sponsoring the Leitrim Ladies team in New York, as well as the St Barnabas Club team, that was the first team composed of New York born players, to win the New York Championship.
Incidentally, that team included quite a number of second generation Leitrim players, with well known names like McGovern, Clarke, Flanagan, Dwyer, Brady and others. Seamus Clarke is the present Treasurer of the Leitrim Club in New York, another busy voluntary aspect of his life.
Catriona was home last week for a brief visit to her mother Breege Kenny, her sister Orla Morahan and her brothers Padraig and Oisín.
She was disappointed that due to Covid restrictions, she was unable to have an opportunity to visit her fellow Leitrim Guardian People of the Year, Andy McGovern and Peter McHugh, but she looks forward to meeting up later in the year.
Seamus and Catriona are full of praise for Andy and Peter and for their long association with the LAPWD Centre in Mohill. Only recently, their work and that of the Centre, was again recognised by Tony and Bernadette McGovern and the Leitrim community in London, with another very generous donation to assist in the care of the disabled people associated with the Mohill Centre.
Noel McPartland, the 2020 Leitrim Guardian Man of the Year, was happy to meet and be photographed with Caitriona at the Hub, Drumshanbo, during her visit back to Drumshanbo and looks forward to meeting up with Andy and Peter.
Noel is also well acquainted with the work of LAPWD, as his daughter, Karen, is the Manager of the Mohill Centre.
We all look forward to a time where we can all meet and celebrate such achievements.
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