MILFORD woman Mary O’Donnell was recognised for her magnificent contribution to the Community Games when she picked up the Adult Volunteer award last Saturday.
Mary has been a key component of the very successful Milford Community Games over the last decade and a half, and her contribution was celebrated in the Salthill Hotel.
Still on a high from receiving her award, Mary this week discussed how she got involved with the Community Games.
“I came back from England 15 years ago, and my children Seamus and Bernadette were both active with the Community Games.
“One thing led to another and I ended up joining the committee in Milford.
“It was a very well run committee, and the local area was committed to the Community Games.
“Milford have been very successful in a lot of sports down through the years, but I suppose the area is most recognised for winning in volleyball.
“We won several All-Ireland titles, and Seamus brought a few medals back to our house as well.”
After getting immersed in her local area, and helping them grow from strength-to-strength, Mary also got involved at county level, and was willing to take on extra responsibility.
“I was county secretary for four years, and that was a very challenging job.
“There was a huge amount of work involved all year long. You were collecting all the necessary information, and dealing with the different areas.
“You would be organising competitors and their parents to go to the National Finals.
“You also need to find managers for the various teams, and security staff and stewards.
“There was a lot of work involved, but it was worthwhile, when people or teams from Donegal did well.”
The Community Games often acts as a springboard for young people to go on to bigger and better things.
Mary knows that better than most as her own nephew Brendan Boyce competed at Mosney before going on to represent Ireland at the London and Rio Olympics.
“Brendan, like all the Boyces, would have went down to Mosney and competed, and he has gone on to have a great career, and there’s still more to come.
“He went back to the National Finals last year as an ambassador for the Games, and was very well received which was nice.
“Olive Loughnane was at the Awards in Galway, and she started off in the Community Games before going on to the Olympics and World Championships.
“Perhaps things have changed a bit now, and children are involved in lots of sports and get away more often, but back in the day, getting through to Mosney was their first chance to get away from home.
“I’m sure that still rings true for some of the young people that go down to Athlone.”
Mary’s Community Games involvement came to an end on Saturday night, when she was presented with her Adult Volunteer award.
She was joined by her husband Bernard and family, and was thrilled to be chosen as this year’s recipient.
“I was absolutely delighted to win the award, especially as it went to a vote and there were a few different people in for it.
“They would all have been worthy winners, but it was nice that they picked me to come out on top, and I suppose it shows they valued the work I did down through the years.
“I had a great night down in Galway with all my family. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I have actually finished up with the Community Games now.
“I was going to step down two years ago, but then my friend Kathleen Hagan sadly passed away, and I decided to stay on.
“I think the time is right now and I feel I’m going out on a high.”