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29 Jan 2020

Blayney Blades: A Quarter of a Century

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“We Celebrate with Pride and Gratitude”. Last week, AONTAS member Blayney Blades CLG, based in Castleblayney Co. Monaghan, celebrated 25 years of service to their local community.

Last week, AONTAS member Blayney Blades CLG, based in Castleblayney Co. Monaghan, celebrated 25 years of service to their local community.

Our Communications and Membership Officer Barry Dolan gives his thoughts on a wonderful night of celebration held to honour their great achievement.

It was a real privilege to be invited to this celebration by Lorraine Cunningham, coordinator of Blayney Blades.

The Blayney Blades' first ever leaflet
Throughout 2020, AONTAS will visit more members and member organisations than ever before. To attend a celebration of such magnitude was a fantastic beginning to the year.

Background

Blayney Blades is a community-based women’s group supported by the National Collective of Community Based Women’s Networks (NCCWN). They provide both accredited and non-accredited training and support services to women and their families in the wider Monaghan community, through a number of diverse and valuable funding streams. They are based in the wonderful surroundings of the Iontas Arts Centre, a multipurpose community facility that includes a modern 300 capacity theatre, café, training rooms, library, IT suite, counselling rooms and a teaching kitchen, situated in the heart of Castleblayney.

The “Blades”, as they are affectionately known, started in 1995. To put that into context: in 1995 John Bruton was Taoiseach of Ireland, the divorce referendum was narrowly passed, plans for the LUAS were announced and Eric Cantona was banned from football for landing a Kung- Fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan. This was also the year that a group of pro-active women, led by local community activist Sr. Celine, started their journey together for the betterment of the area by forming “Blayney Blades” in their local parish hall.

Through the Years

Blayney Blades have continued to evolve throughout the years to cater to the ever-changing needs of the community. Strong, dedicated women such as Noeline O’Neill, Olive Bolger, Maria Kelly, Martina Quinn, etc. have helped guide the group through innumerable challenges and successes throughout the years. “Make it happen” has always been the attitude with the group as they offer ongoing opportunities for community support, including personal development, networking, education and counselling. Over the years, they have been able to offer an eclectic mix of workshops, training, seminars and events that support and promote positive work and education on both sides of the border, through their links with Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board, the Sisters of Mercy, the OWL Project, PEACE Funding, Monaghan County Council, Age & Opportunity, Department of Community Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, Department of Justice and Equality, Muckno Donaghmoyne Community Services, Monaghan Sports Partnership and TUSLA.

Blayney Blades International, now celebrating its 10th year, also continues to be a successful part of the organisation through its Saturday International school, translation services and advice service, under the guidance of Loreta Patlaba.

This incredible range of work has brought the Blades many awards and accolades, including a 2018 AONTAS STAR Award in the Health and Wellbeing Category for their multi-award winning “Moving On Local Training Initiative” programme.

The Event

Over 180 people attended the event held on Monday, 20th January. Chairperson Martina Quinn opened the event by talking about her “pride and gratitude” to all in attendance and to all those who have been part of the Blades throughout the years. The night was one of music, stories and friendship, as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD, founding Blayney Blades member Noeline O’Neil, Bishop of Clogher Larry Duffy, board member Mary Smith and the Muckno Singers Choir took to the stage to fill the room with joy, smiles and tributes to the late Sr. Celine.

“Blayney Blades continues to recognise and acknowledge that we as a group have empowered, encouraged and enabled women of all ages to live a fuller life through education, health and wellbeing.” – Martina Quinn, Blayney Blades Chairperson

 “Coming together is the beginning but staying together is success” -Minister Heather Humphreys, TD 

Sr. Rose Marie then unveiled a plaque dedicated to the memory of Sr. Celine and invited the board of management and staff of Blades to join her as the Muckno Singers sang “You’re The Voice” by John Farnham.

Coordinator Lorraine Cunningham rounded off the event by extending a comprehensive and heartfelt thank you to everyone who made the night possible and for all their work throughout the years.

Blayney Blades currently offer the following services:

Accredited training

Monday Talks

Exercise Classes

Knitting Club

Wellbeing Activities and Seminars

Local Training Initiative

Book Club

Art Classes

Cooking Classes

Dancing Classes

Annual Trips

Health Information Sessions

Counselling

Networking Events

Blayney Blades International

To find out more about Blayney Blades please contact blayneyblades@gmail.com or call 042 – 9753410

For more information on membership or to let AONTAS know about your event please contact Barry Dolan, Communications and Membership Officer, at bdolan@aontas.com