2023: Challenge and Opportunity, by Terry Reilly
With the Ballina 2023 landmark celebrations a mere sixteen months away as I pen these thoughts, I am excited by the challenge being taken and the opportunity presented.
In preparation, we have all got to wrack our brains as we pick up the gauntlet and get behind what I see as a community call to arms.
Ballina is a great historic town, supported by its environs. Our people have worked over the centuries to make it what it is, and those forced to emigrate have made notable contributions in all spheres.
If we were to have a great Town Hall meeting this evening and you were asked what we might do to improve the town’s status, appearance and facilities what would be on your list? What actions would you advocate to ensure that all sections, all ages, of the community would be really proud of our home place as an exemplar? What would YOU like to see as the legacy of 2023? The YOU is the Balina Municipal Council. The Residents’ Associations. The business community. Our schools. Sports bodies. Cultural groups. Tidy Towns. Artists. Community Groups. Etc. The whole lot of us. ALL aiming high and determined to create an even better place.
Here goes with just a few items on my own wish list, in no particular order:
- The formation of a Town Band that will lead off the 2023 celebrations (Once we had many bands, including the Foresters, The Hibernian, The Mechanics, the Brass Band, and Culleens NS Pipe Band to name but a few).
- The planting of more wildflowers on all the lead-in roads to the town to have a right good go at doing better than we have ever done in the National Tidy Towns competition.
- Enhancement of the river banks along our beautiful river
- Twin and/or establish international links with places our people got to and did some good. There are many. These people should also be recognised on murals around the town.
- Establish a Mol An Oige Gallery to flag the outstanding achievements of our young people.
- Mini weekend festivals/events catering for all interests: at least one every month for twelve months.
- A Look at Ballina through the Prism of History: Reveals, etc.
- Rehab our many lanes and derelict buildings and create opportunities therein for artists
- Open the Digital Hub at the old Military Quarter
- Provide the very best Public Toilets in Ireland Progress the proposed Maritime Museum and Outdoor Adventure Centre at Ballina Quay…complete with a zip-wire connection to Belleek Woods.
- Do something really meaningful to show our commitment to the Climate Change challenge. For instance, can we harness the Moy again to light up our streets? Invite Mary Robinson to spell it out, and incentivise our schools to come up with something novel with a Ballina imprint.
- Pull the finger out on the provision of greenways linking the town with, Pontoon, Crossmolina, Enniscrone and Easkey, and Killala to Ballycastle, taking in Downpatrick and Céide Fields.
I’ll leave it to others to put the spotlight on and make suggestions re the Arts, Science, Enterprise, disadvantaged communities etc.
A lot of items here, a lot to be done, but you know what, if we had got the skids out years ago, a lot of the foregoing would have already been accomplished.
Are WE up for the challenge? Are YOU up for the challenge? Start by getting the debate going. Whatever tasks are selected and prioritised will take planning and co-ordination, of course, but as Henry Ford once said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”
SEIZE THE MOMENT. YOUR TOWN NEEDS YOU!
Author Terry Reilly is a native of Ballina. Editor of the Western People for nearly 30 years, he has written a number of books chronicling the history, heritage, culture and people of the town.