Ballineen and Enniskeane Co. Cork.
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Article: BEDA flourishes at 50!
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BEDA flourishing at 50! By By Áilin Quinlan Saturday March 19th, 2011Members of the BEDA 50th anniversary organising committee who have been busy this year arranging events to mark the occassion. (Photo: Donie Hurley)
IT’S 50 years old and flourishing – and its influence is everywhere, from community activities to sporting facilities and bus services to footpaths.
This year the Ballineen Enniskeane Development Association celebrates its 50th anniversary with a string of events marking its many achievements, including a fashion show a community reunion and a special concert.
The association united the sister villages of Ballineen and Enniskeane when it was formed in 1961 at a time when the West Cork railway was due for closure.
‘BEDA was founded on January 13th 1961 when a number of local people held a meeting to discuss the future of the parish and the betterment of the twin villages,’ explains Kathleen O’Sullivan, spokeswoman for the organisation.
‘On January 13th of this year we held the annual general meeting to commemorate that very special date.
‘At this stage the West Cork railway was due for closure in March and the area had been greatly dependent on the railway for business.
‘There were no regular bus services like we have now – the railway was an integral part of village life,’ she said.
In the early years, she said, BEDA worked tirelessly to improve services to the parish of Enniskeane.
‘Members met with politicians, the County Council and various representatives of State bodies to get better lighting, bus services, signposting, dumpsites, refuse collection, proper footpaths, to name but a few,’ says Kathleen O’Sullivan.
From that first year the organisation entered the Tidy Towns Competition, with Ballineen and Enniskeane as one unit.
‘Entry to this competition alone has improved the appearance of the villages and that great work continues to this day with Ballineen-Enniskeane winning the County in the Litter Free competition and always in the top three,’ she says.
Five years after its formation BEDA purchased the old railway complex and some adjoining land. A few years later the pitch and putt course was developed. Opened in 1968, it is now one of the older clubs in West Cork and also one of the most active.
‘Come hail or rain they have a competition every Sunday morning,’ says O’Sullivan, who adds that it was around this time that the playing pitch was also opened to cater for GAA, soccer and all sports.
The tennis courts and children’s playground were provided at a later date. For some years the old railway house was used for meetings and other events.
In recent years the roof has been repaired but, O’Sullivan says a lot of work remains to be carried out.‘The house needs a lot more work, but the playground has been refurbished and the tennis court re-done.’
Completed in 1974, the community hall provided facilities for all indoor sports, and several rooms for meetings.
‘Today you can find children learning the skills of tennis, badminton, indoor soccer and music, and adults playing badminton, bowls, whist and learning first aid skills to name but a few,’ points out O’Sullivan, adding that various organisations also use the rooms for meetings.
To this day, says the BEDA spokeswoman, the group – which has about 30 members and a large cohort of regular helpers from teenagers to people in their seventies and eighties – is involved in all aspects of the community.
‘It’s a very active association. We meet as a group every month and in between we have more frequent meetings of various sub-committees responsible for different things.
‘We are involved in everything from the Tidy Towns to the local festival and the provision of recreation facilities.
It’s very involved and has always been that way,’ she said, adding that the group also had a group of people who regularly helped out with big events like the fashion show or celebratory dinner dances. ‘They do whatever needs to be done and we really appreciate that.’
Fundraisers over the years include the Annual Fiesta/Festival, whist drives, bingo, variety concerts, bring-and-buy sales, fashion shows and dinner dances.
The 50th anniversary celebrations, which began in January with a dinner attended by 130 guests in the community hall, continued with a fashion extravaganza held on Friday March 4th.
The show featured clothes for everyone from teenagers to adults from six fashion outlets in Bandon, Clonakilty and Dunmanway, as well as a special Best Dressed Lady award and a makeover competition for one man and one woman.
This year’s annual BEDA summer festival in June will feature a special community reunion of local residents who lived in the area from 1961 onwards. October will bring a special concert featuring former winners of the long-running BEDA Pub Talent Competitions, which ran for about 20 years until the 1980s
‘Other events are in the pipeline for later in the year and it is hoped that it will prove to be a memorable 50th anniversary year,’ Kathleen said.
Courtesy of the Southern Star
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