Moygownagh is a great example of what can be achieved by a relatively new group. Read on to see, in their own words, what can be achieved in a small community in just three years.
Moygownagh (Magh Gamhnach) is a rural village and parish in North Mayo. Situated between the towns of Ballycastle and Crossmolina, it has a population of approx. 550. The
parish derives its name from an ancient 7th century legend where a wandering St. Cormac met St. Daria, the abbess of a monastery along the banks of the Owenmore river. She
treated him so hospitably that he blessed her and her lands so that they would abound in milch cows (fertile cows with milk) thereafter the area became known as “the plain of the milch cows” or “Magh Gamhnach”.
The Setting Up of Moygownagh Community/Text Alert Group:
Following on from a Community Council Meeting, a public information meeting was held in Moygownagh Community Centre on the 20th February 2019 with a view to regenerating Moygownagh Community Alert. Bernard Kearney, Community Development officer for Muintir na Tíre and representatives from the local Gardaí were in attendance. The meeting decided to set up the Moygownagh Community Alert/Text Alert committee. The aims of our Community Alert are:
- To prevent crime.
- To set up a Text alert for the area.
- To support older and vulnerable people in our community.
- To liaise with Gardaí, Health officials, Social Services and other community groups.
- To compile a list of elderly to be visited for the group and Gardaí.
- To avail of any grants for the elderly.
- To encourage the community to be alert at all times.A decision was taken at this meeting to elect the officers of the committee and that the rest of the committee would be formed by representatives from different areas in the parish at a later date. The Executive met in February 2019.
The following decisions were taken at that first meeting.
• Treasurers will open Bank Account and be the signatories on the account.
• Secretary will write letter for bank re: purpose of group.
• A Gmail account will be set up for the group. The minutes of all meetings will be sent to all consenting Committee members.
• We decided on a charge of €10 per household to help run the committee and fund the text alert service.
• The parish will be divided into the electoral areas for the purpose of CommunityAlert visitation and representation.
• The officers are now appealing to the wider community to volunteer to participate on this committee. We would like at least one representative from each of the electoral areas and 2 from those of larger population as outlined.
• Once we have volunteers and the tax number we will have another meeting (2-3 weeks).
At our second meeting the following decisions were taken:
• Muintir na Tíre registration form was signed.
• Bank forms were signed.
• As we haven’t enough volunteers we will approach people from the different electoral areas and ask them to come to a meeting on 25th March at 9pm.
• P.R.O. was elected.
• At the next meeting we will discuss the visitation of houses in the parish. We will finalise the information and signing of forms.
• We will supply duplicate books to those visiting houses so that they can issue receipts for money received.
• We will also invite Community Garda to meeting and ask her for advice regarding the visitation of the elderly and vulnerable in the parish.
At our next meeting we had representatives present from each parish area. We decided we would organise a little pack containing
• A Text Alert Sign Up Form.
• An Information leaflet.
• Include a “Register of Elderly” form and use carer or neighbour to distribute if deemed appropriate. This form can be returned to area Rep or directly to Gardaí.
• A duplicate receipt book to allow receipts to be issued to all those who opted to contribute.
These pack would be delivered by hand to every house in the parish.
All committee members signed a GDPR form. They had a choice of consenting to receive emails and/or text messages from the executive. Our Constitution was adopted.
Following on from this meeting every house was visited in the parish over the next 3 to 4 weeks. We had a 95% positive response. There are over 150 houses in the parish and we had 146 households wanting to sign up to the text alert.
Projects/Actions of Moygownagh Community/Text Alert Group since its formation in 2019
Register of the Elderly:
The register of the elderly was formed and about 10 elderly/vulnerable householders consented to Garda Visits
The committee felt that it was important that every entrance into parish is included when planning the number of signs. Planning permission was required from County Council and our Chairman took care of this.
The Committee also agreed that Public Liability insurance would have to be paid when signs went up.
All householders were given a sticker for the kitchen window with the number of the local Garda Station
BeAlert Text Service
We consulted with our local Gardaí and then proceeded to set up the service. We visit each house in the parish once a year to renew the text alert service and to see what other services each household may need. We also encourage members to download the Cairde app. We use the text service for messages that need to be sent to every house in the parish. We use the Cairde App for day to day things like ……”cow on the road” etc
Seniors Alert Scheme
A notice was initially put in the local bulletins with all details regarding Safety Pendants including the cost after initial year. Community Council members then chatted to neighbours and encouraged the elderly and those living alone to invest in them. The Secretary and one other committee member took responsibility for ordering pendants.
Once a year we organise an awareness campaign around the Safety Pendants. We also include an information leaflet regarding the pendants for each household in the parish which is delivered by the local rep
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Muintir na Tíre supplied free Carbon Monoxide alarms for vulnerable or elderly parishioners to Community Alert Groups. The Moygownagh Community Alert Group applied for alarms for all residents that requested them
The Community Alert team supported cocooning/vulnerable parishioners during the Covid pandemic (shopping, cooking meals, picking up prescriptions etc.) We did this with the support of the local GAA club.
We communicated with the parish during covid using the Be Alert text messaging service as well as the local parish bulletin. We ensured that each household was part of a “Bubble” during the lockdowns.
Meetings were held with the executive where necessary during the first lockdown and minutes were emailed to all members. In 2021 we were once again in Lockdown so our AGM was held via zoom
All committee members are asked to ensure that each elderly/vulnerable household has someone to support them during the Christmas season when services are often not available. Christmas dinner and support shopping etc. is offered where needed
The BeAlert messaging service is used to communicate alerts or important parish messages.
We use our local Church and Parish bulletins:
- to advertise our Text Alert Service and our Senior Alert Scheme
- to provide short synopsis of our AGM.
- To inform householders that committee members will be paying a visit during a particular month.
- To alert householders to be aware of various online “Scams” etc. which may be happening.
We have a yearly visit to all houses in the parish and we give householders an information leaflet on Community Alert activities and services.
Notices about meetings are placed in the local parish bulletin and new members are always welcome. Reminders are sent via email and what’s app text to all current members. All the minutes of committee meetings are sent to committee members via e mail. During Lockdown it was sometimes necessary to hold meetings via Zoom.
Aims/Objectives in the Future
During Covid our main link in the parish was to our GAA club as they had similar communication links to us. However over the next few years we hope to link with more organisations e.g. Xommunity Council in projects and programmes that will help the parish diaspora as a whole. We have elected a Community Council Representative at our A.G.M.