Two of Letterkenny’s most industrious individuals were honoured when Mayor of Letterkenny MD Cllr Jimmy Kavanagh hosted a Mayoral Reception in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the community of Letterkenny.
Margaret Toner and Johnny McCollum were honoured at a prestigious event in the Council Chamber in Letterkenny Public Service Centre.
Margaret Toner was recognised for her work at the Letterkenny CDP and for her contribution to the community over many years. Johnny McCollum was recognised for his role in the Letterkenny Reunion Group and for his involvement with many community initiatives in Letterkenny over a long period of time.
Mayor of Letterkenny MD Cllr. Jimmy Kavanagh said that he was delighted to host this event to honour both Margaret and Johnny and their community work over many years.
“Both Margaret and Johnny are wonderful exemplars of the contribution made by community activists and volunteers in the life of our town. They bring such passion and enthusiasm to their work and they have spent their life thinking of others and making sure that everyone feels that they are part of our community. These people are the glue that holds us together and we can never thank them enough for all they do. In choosing Margaret and Johnny for this Mayoral Reception I am also using it as an opportunity to thank all our volunteers and community activists from the Tidy Towns to the Relay for Life volunteers to all the voluntary and community groups in Letterkenny” said Cllr Kavanagh.
He added “Margaret and Johnny have played a vital role in supporting the health and wellbeing of residents in the town. Margaret has been to the fore in supporting those who found themselves socially excluded and this was particularly relevant during the recession, and she has helped them have their voices heard and access the supports and services they need. Johnny has been instrumental in creating a special sense of place in Letterkenny and creating and building strong connections between today’s residents and those from Letterkenny who now live elsewhere.”
Margaret Toner is a native of Manorcunningham and has lived in Letterkenny since 1974 and has been a community activist from her early years when she along with a group of parents in Ard O’Donnell cleared a piece of waste ground to allow their children to play safely and this was supported by the Town Council who supplied play equipment for the children.
Margaret started her working life as a machinest in Gaeltex in the Oldtown when she was just 15 years old and worked there until 1981. She set up her own Dressmaking business in the Market Square in Letterkenny in 1989 and continued until illness forced her to close her shop.
After she regained her health she went on to FÁS to retrain and in 1996 she took up employment with the Community Development Programme and continues to work with the community to the present day. Margaret has supported many groups and individuals in her community in Letterkenny and environs i.e. Residents Associations, Lone Parents, Older People, Unemployed, Summer Schemes for youth, affordable childcare, people who are affected by addiction and much more.
Johnny McCollum has been involved in community projects since the early 1980’s and has raised funds for a large number of local sporting groups and charities. His many community ventures included a snooker competition for 10 years in CYMS Letterkenny and the proceeds were donated to a different charity each year.
He has also produced a number of DVD’s on the social history of Letterkenny and keeping alive the memory of many of the towns older people and characters and again the proceeds have gone to local charities.
Other initiatives included calendars for various local groups including the youth club, the Mass Rock committee, the food bank and Mary’s Meals. He has also organised “Fiesta Reunion Dances” for autism and Downs Syndrome.
He is currently involved with Letterkenny Community Heritage group which has undertaken several heritage projects in the last few years including a monument at Sentry Hill to the penal days, and a world war one memorial for the 92 Letterkenny people killed in that war. Most recently the group held a night in memory of Eunan “Busty” Blake the footballer.
He is also involved in the Christmas annual and the “Letterkenny Memories” a monthly get together of “townies” and “blow ins” featuring music, song, dance and stories, some of them true.
His greatest and most lasting achievement has been the Letterkenny Reunion which he co-founded with his friend Jimmy Sweeney. It is now in its 28th year and has made a huge contribution to bringing people back to the town on a bi-annual basis, an opportunity for old friends from near and far to reunite over a few days, catch up on their lives, tour Donegal and do some serious celebrating. The reunion has been and is a huge success, which contributes much to the town and helps maintain a great community spirit.
Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr. Gerry McMonagle also spoke at the reception and paid tribute to the work done by both Margaret and Johnny. “I am delighted to be in attendance at this evening’s ceremony. I have known Margaret for many years since I first started with Letterkenny CDP in 2002 and I have known Johnny for many years too. They are very worthy recipients of the Mayoral Reception and I would like to thank the Mayor of Letterkenny MD for choosing both Margaret and Johnny to be honoured in this way. This honour helps shine a light on the wonderful work done by community activists and volunteers both in Letterkenny and across the county”.
Margaret and Johnny were each presented with a sealed scroll marking the occasion of the Mayor’s Reception and the honour bestowed on them.Tags: