Introduction & Welcome Speech by Councillor Sinead Guckian at the Launch of the Anthony Trollope Trail by the President of Ireland Mary McAleese. 26th September 2008, Drumsna Co. Leitrim.
-President McAleese, Dr McAleese, Oireachtas members, Cathaoirleach Comhairle Chontae Laitroma, Fellow Councillors, Rev Father, Distinguished guests, a Chairde go lear
-It is an honor and a day of great pride for me to welcome you all here to Drumsna for the Launch of the Anthony Trollope Trail.
And in particular, it is with great pleasure I welcome, on behalf of my community The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese and Dr McAleese here today.
-This is a very important day for us and, your Excellency; you have made it very special, by your acceptance to perform the official launch.
-The Anthony Trollope Trail has dual purpose.
-Firstly, the trail commemorates the Writer Anthony Trollope, who was inspired, for his first novel “ The MacDermotts of Ballycloran”, while visiting Drumsna over 160 years ago.
The book was inspired by a story that Trollope heard about a family, when he stayed in Drumsna in 1843, while working for the postal services.
Trollope was out walking when he came upon the dilapidated residence of the MacDermotts, at Ballycloran. On enquiring about the place, the tale he heard of their lives was one of drama and tragedy and so began his writing.
-Secondly the trail represents the understanding and appreciation that we, as a community have in our heritage and our history.
-I know that you, President McAleese have on many occasions praised the role of community groups in strengthening civic and community spirit in Ireland and here in Drumsna we take great pride, in our village, in our history and in the level community spirit that exists.
-In 2007 Drumsna was publicly acknowledged for its community spirit when we took first place in our category, winning the All Island competition “Pride of Place”.
All ages, from the village and surrounds, participated in creating a living history of the village for the adjudicators, by dressing and acting as Drumsna’s most famous historical figures. An example of which you will see later on.
-We are also proud of the level of voluntary effort that exists in Drumsna.
The Community Resource building we are in here today is an example of the scale of projects that our lead organisation, the Drumsna Development Association has undertaken with commitment and pride. This center, since its opening in 2006, is now very much the heart of our community.
This building accommodates our many committees, including our youth club and our active age group. In conjunction with the HSE, the building facilitates a Day center for the older members of our community and of course it also houses three professional services, previous not available in the village, an architect, a Dental surgery and a chiropodists clinic.
This project took a lot of commitment and voluntary effort. I know we have most of the Directors for the center here today, as is the new Manager and staff of the building and I’d like to thank them for their assistance and support organising for today’s events, we even have the builder here too.
-Among our many guests today, we also have members from our Twin village, Dromara, Co Down.
A friendship that has grown and created many exchanges and produced joint publications,
we are always delighted to have you visit and I know today is of particular interest to our Dromara friends as, for those of you who don’t know, President McAleese’s grandmother came from there.
-We have the pupils from Annaduff National School who have taken time out from their studies to provide us with the great music this morning; this was made possible, with thanks, to their teacher, Deirdre McKeon
-Of course today would not have been possible without a lot of help from people from outside of our community too.
I would like to thank Leitrim County Council, for assisting us with today’s events and providing support and guidance.
And also for taking time to be with us today, among our guests is the Cathaoirleach, some of my fellow Councillors, our County Manager Jackie Maguire, the Directors of Services John McGuinness & Joseph Gilhooly whose engineering and administrative staff have played a key role in creating the Anthony Trollope trail
and to the Leitrim Tourism Officer Sinead McDermott, who says she is no relation to Trollope’s McDermotts of Ballycloran, but she’s nearly spent as much time as them here in Drumsna, thank you Sinead
-We also have with us today, on now their annual visit to Drumsna, this being their third, so far, we have a large representation from the Anthony Trollope’s Societies from the UK and America.
We are delighted to have developed such a strong and growing friendship with the two societies. From the first year that the societies came to Drumsna, I think we all knew that a strong friendship was being formed that would exist for many years.
Today’s celebration was instigated by the two societies and I would like to publicly acknowledge this and to thank you for it.
-As I said earlier, our whole community have been involved in recreating our most famous Drumsna sons and daughters, that is, the most famous to date.
It has been an interesting and fun way to educate ourselves and others on the history of our village.
I am now going to hand over to Colleen Guckian, the Chairperson of Drumsna Development Association, who will introduce to you some of the characters from our living history trail, which will include characters brought previously to life by Anthony Trollope.
As I mentioned – the enacting of our history has been fun and educational for all, I hope you’ve enjoyed this small introduction
and I would love to think that this tradition will be carried on for many years and generations to come,
It would be nice to think that in 100 or 150 years time, when the, then, Drumsna residents are portraying their living history, that someone will be coming out playing me, and telling of my life, I don’t know if that’ll be the case, but I do know for our next speaker that will certainly be the case, as President McAleese is the first president of Ireland to formally visit Drumsna,
So today is history in the making and it now gives me great pleasure and it is a true honour to ask Our President Mary McAleese to officially launch the Anthony Trollope Trail.
Thank you, your Excellency, for your kind words and thank you once again for taking time from your busy schedule to enrich our community by making history here today.,
We would like to make a presentation to you as a token of our appreciation
I’d firstly like to call on Mr Anthony Trollope, who’ll will make a presentation of a wood carving of Anthony Trollope’s book,
I’ll tell a secret President McAleese our Anthony Trollope is also our very own distinguished Artist Sculptor Jim Gannon, Jim was asked by the community to design and create this special piece for presentation to you today. Jim makes the presentation on behalf of the people of Drumsna.
I will now call on Pricilla Hungerford, Chairperson of the UK Anthony Trollope Society,
to make a presentation on behalf of the Society.
Finally I call on Maggie Reilly, the eldest lady in our community to present a bouquet to you President McAleese and also on Liam Costello our eldest Gentleman to present a button hole to you Dr McAleese.