Welcome to the West Armagh Consortium's website. We hope that you will find this both interesting and informative. We would like to take this opportunity to give the reader some background to us.
The West Armagh Consortium (WAC) was constituted in November 2002 as a voluntary amalgamation of local community groups from Armagh City West. As a non-sectarian and politically unaffiliated umbrella organisation, the Consortium welcomes affiliations from all new and existing community and voluntary groups in our catchment area. The groups currently affiliated represent districts within the three electoral wards of Abbey Park, Callanbridge and Downs.
For young people who want to get involved in organising events or even just having a say in issues relating to young people, the above event would be very worthwhile.
The West Armagh Consortium held its annual general meeting last week. Following the yearly reports a new committee was elected with Mrs. Fiona Kelly getting elected as chairperson. Fiona is the first female chair of the consortium and will bring a wealth of experience to the role. Previously she held the position of chairperson on the Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership Board. She held that position for several years. Fiona has also been involved with St.Patrick's Park Residents Group for many years.
Mr.Kevin Fields was elected into the secretary’s position. Kevin also serves on Callanbridge and Legar hill Residents Association and has represented that group on the consortium for several years.
There was no change in the treasurer’s post with Mrs Pauline Quigley getting re-elected to the role. Pauline has held the post now for three years and enjoys the confidence and support of the consortium committee.
The AGM comes at an exciting time in the consortium. As previously reported the consortium was successful in a Big Lottery application for a resource and programmes costs to be based at our offices in Sherrys Sports Complex. The awarded amount to just under £200,000 and will be a three years project.
The first walk in the 7 Hills Walking Challenge took place on Saturday morning. 14 walkers set off on a route around the town as part of the practise walks for the 7 hills challenge on December 16th. The programme has been organised by the West Armagh Consortium and it is designed to appeal to people who would not consider themselves particularly physically active. The proposed routes of the practise walks will visit sites that people may well pass by on a daily basis , such as river walks ,St. Patricks Well and Demesne to name a few.The groups are a cross section of the community with a varying range of ages and they appear to have adopted former Lord Mayor Cathy Rafferty's dog Uisce Beatha as their mascot. Uisce Beatha means water of life, more commonly referred to as whiskey. Perhaps a few uisce beatha were enjoyed after the walk, but that's different story.The walk leader, Mr. John Fields stressed that the programme will consist of leisurely, yet focussed walks that will respond to everyone capabilities. Speaking before the off on Saturday Stephen Fields (WAC) welcomed all the participants saying that “The object of the programme was to encourage physical activity and in turn promote healthy lifestyles. It is also hoped that the walks will give people a better appreciation of our own town, places that locals sometimes take for granted.”The remaining walks will take place on subsequent Saturdays and will finish off on Saturday 16th December with the full 7 Hills Challenge. There has always been a debate regarding where the seven hills actually are. However to diffuse this potential bone of contention, the organisers has decreed that anyone who can identify an eighth hill or indeed an alternative hill can climb that one as well
The West Armagh Consortium will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Thursday 26th October at 7.00pm in our offices at Cathedral Road. All members of our constituent groups are entitled to attend and we would encourage their representatives who sit on our committee to encourage them to do so.
Suicide awareness charity P.I.P.S have benefited to the amount of £3,350 from events in this years West Armagh Community Festival that concluded on Saturday with a fun day and sporting finals. There were all the usual attractions, bouncey castles, face painting music and dance. In addition there were numerous sporting events including football, camogie, tug-o-war as well as novelty challenges. The fun day was the culmination of a weeklong programme of events. A children's summer camp ran throughout the week catering for forty children aged from 7 - 11 year olds. Also throughout the week the evening saw ladies road bowls, pub quiz, under-14 Gaelic football and ladies Gaelic football and much more.
Central to this year's festival was the 50th Anniversary of the Callan Street explosions that claimed the life of a five year old boy and injured over twenty more, mostly children. Over a twenty-four hour period from the 21st- 22nd of July 1967 there were two explosions in a disused railway tunnel. The death and injuries sparked a wave of protest at conditions in the area that had some of the worst housing conditions in the town.
To mark this anniversary the local residents group planned to erect a memorial on the spot of the explosions and to assist the festival committee devoted its sponsored 5km run and 2 km walk to raising funds for this. The run took place on Tuesday 8th and attracted several hundred runners and walkers. It became clear early on that the run/walk was attracting a considerable amount of attention and that the monies raised would surpass what was needed so it was decided to include P.I.P.S on the sponsor card. The organisers are pleased to announce that the total raised and presented to P.I.P.S is £3.350. They have thanked everyone who participated in the event form the runners to stewards and officials.
The actual unveiling of the memorial took place the following night and was attended by a large number of residents. Following it there was an exhibition and talk in the consortiums hall at Sherry's Field Sports Complex. Local historian John Nixon delivered a talk on the subject to a packed hall. Some of the survivors of the explosions gave their accounts of the accident and the effect it had on their lives. There was a very moving moment when one of the contributors realised that the child a previous speaker had recalled helping was in actual fact, herself. For fifty years neither woman had realised the identity of the other, such was the confusion and the injuries sustained by some of the victims.
The festival organisers have described this year's festival as a great success. Paying particular attention to the many volunteers, Stephen Fields from the organising committee has thanked all involved. "While the festival is now a well established community event its success is solely dependant on the support of community and of the community volunteers who give freely of their time. This year those volunteers stepped up to the plate and the success of the festival is due to their efforts."
The West Armagh Community Festival concluded on Saturday with a fun day and the finals of some of the sporting competitions that took place during the week. Many attended the last day and enjoyed football, poc/cic fada, bouncey castles, rodeo bull, gladiator ring and bungee run. There also musical entertainment provided by Crowbar Blues and the crowd was also entertained by Irish dancing and a belly dancer. It was quite a contrast in style but the crowd seemed to appreciate it.
The organisers of the festival would like to thank everyone who helped. They are too numerous to mention but suffice to say that the week-long festival would not have been possible without the active participation of the volunteers. Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the festival was the events in and around the 50th Anniversary of the Callan Street Gas Explosion. A 5km run and 2km walk was organised to raise funds for both this venture and for P.I.P.S. It surpassed all expectations with several hundred people taking part. The unveiling of the memorial and the exhibition and talk the following night were also very well supported. So much so that it was standing room only in the consortiums hall for the lecture and slide show delivered by local historian John Nixon.
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There was a tremendous turnout for both the sponsored run and walk held as part of West Armagh Community festival. Several hundred runners and walkers took part in the event that was organised in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Callan Street Gas Explosion. Monies raised went towards the erection of a memorial stone. The other beneficiary of the run/walk is P.I.P.S.
The following night the memorial stone was unveiled at a short ceremony on the spot where fifty years ago so many people mostly children were badly injured and resulted in the death of five year old Brendan Donnelly.
Peter Corrigan Quiz Kicks Off Festival
The West Armagh Community Festival kicked off with the Peter Corrigan Quiz in Devlins Bar on Friday 4th. The competition was won by the Station Bar Team and all congratulations to them this was the first year that there were monetary prizes and in fairness to both the winning and runner up teams they donated the majority of their winnings to the sponsored run/walk in aid of the Callan Street Explosion Memorial and P.I.P.S.The Marie Smyth Ladies Road Bowls took place on Monday night and was preceded by the first day of the summer camp for 7-11 year olds. Images from the various events throughout the week will be updated to this site.
Parents with children attending next weeks summer camp as part of the West Armagh Community festival should take note off the above schedule.As can be seen there is a full week of activities.
Fourteen people availed of the recent defibrillator training that took place at Sherry’s Field Sports complex on Saturday 1st April. The training was the third in a series of defibrillator training that followed the provision of defibrillators in community houses. The West Armagh Consortium in conjunction with the Southern Regional College delivered two classes, one in the morning and the second in afternoon. The classes were delivered by Andrea Hamilton who is a trained nurse. Funding for the programme was drawn down via the Growing Communities Programme, a programme delivered by ACBC as part of its Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership Board commitment.
The West Armagh Consortium recently purchased a small stage that is available to groups to hire out. The stage is 8ft X12Ft and 18" high complete with step. Suitable for small presentations such as a dancing display. Reversible hard wood and padded surface. Completely portable and easy to assemble and transport. Transportation of stage is available as well.
Although very overcast the annual St. Patricks Day parade in Armagh managed to avoid any downpours. As with previous years large crowds turned out to line the route of the parade as it made its way from the Palace Grounds to Cathedral Road, finishing off at Sherry Sports Complex. Even though the weather lacked brightness the floats certainly made up for it. Of course the parade was only one item on the schedule organised by the local councils in Armagh and Down to celebrate the patrons saints day and a full programme was published beginning on March 3rd and running until 19th March.
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