Kathleen & Charlie Glackin Community Heroes July 2016
Kathleen and Charlie Glackin both natives of Ballybofey have lived and worked in this community all their lives. Celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this year, this very active couple have involved themselves in their community while rearing a family of ten, six were boys and four girls. They have twenty-two grandchildren, nine great grandchildren and counting.
Apart from community activities the couple enjoy hobbies which they partake in weekly. Charlie enjoys gardening, and a walk through their garden demonstrates his dedication and ability as a gardener. Kathleen enjoys crochet and knitting and has created many beautiful pieces. She is also a very gifted seamstress and does a wonderful job of creating beautiful fabrics pieces and intricately designed cushions for their home.
Together they enjoy social dancing every weekend which they describe as their way to keep fit and it definitely shows in this hale and hearty couple. They attend dancing in Jacksons every Sunday as well as other social dancing events held in various locations around the county, such as Donegal Town, Lifford and Strabane. They are also members of the dancing group held in the Parish Centre every Wednesday.
Kathleen’s first involvement in community groups began with the local Ballybofey & Stranorlar ICA Branch in 1970 which she began after a suggestion by her mother who thought she needed to get out of the house for a bit of time out. Rearing ten of a family didn’t allow for much time out so Kathleen duly decided to join. Being an active person and always ready to roll up her sleeves and help out, Kathleen’s skills were recognised and soon after she became the branch secretary and continued in this role for many years. During this time Kathleen and the guild took part in many competitions progressing to the quarter finals of the “Into Europe in Music and Song” competition. The local President of the ICA, Maureen McNulty who travelled to Dublin regularly noticed that every Christmas many of the small towns had a Christmas Crib and she suggested that the local branch should try to get one for the town. Soon after this it was decided that the local branch would erect one. Charlie himself a busy contractor and carpenter built the house for the crib and has maintained and renewed it over the years. He also erects the crib every year and this is one of the first and much anticipated signs of the upcoming season. While the crib is on display, Charlie also ensures that it is not damaged and at the end of the season he takes it down and stores it in readiness for the following year.
John Paul Youth Club
Kathleen was also involved in the John Paul Youth Group which she joined it in 1985 and helped out with every week taking charge of the table tennis teams which she was very proud of. Kathleen spent six years in the club and was there faithfully every Thursday night and she regularly took young people to table tennis training Letterkenny. She had an U16 boys team of Bryan Cannon, Anthony Logue and Stephen Doherty R.I.P. and many others who took part. Her U18 group of Damien McGlinchery R.I.P. Tony Carr, Martin Browne and John Glackin qualified for a national youth final and her U19 team of Raymond Laverty, Declan Peoples, Martin Browne and Frank Kelly qualified for the Semi-finals in Galway. Her husband Charlie was, as always behind everything Kathleen done and he was always on hand to take the teams to the various competition locations. Kathleen thoroughly enjoyed her time in the youth club and she made lifelong friendships with Liz Clarke and Phyllis Doherty R.I.P.
Formation of the Tidy Towns Group
Prior to the Tidy Towns Group, approximately twenty-two years ago, Paul Murphy organised a community clean up group for Drumboe Woods and Katheen and Charlie alongside other like-minded people took part. This original group were instrumental in securing the first bottle bank in the town and due to their efforts the Twin Towns was the first in the county to have its own bottle bank. At this time Kathleen and Paul Murphy attended a meeting at the late Charlie Faulkner’s house in which Charlie stated that he had always entered the Twin Towns in the national Tidy Towns Competition. Even back in these early days there was a concerted effort by some locals to promote the tidy towns ethos and thankfully this has been carried through to the present day.
In 1998 the Church formed a number of local groups one of which was the Environment Group and the members of the original tidy towns group became involved. At the time the focus of the group was to protect the water source of Lough Mourne as there was planning permission being sought to erect houses adjacent to it and this was seen as a direct threat to the water quality for the entire area. Litter was also a key focus and Margaret O’Brien a group member brought a leaflet to a meeting about securing the Green Flag for the local school. The group threw themselves into this idea and to this end they produced a seasonal newsletter detailing all the different aspect of the seasons from animals to plants etc. for the school which was read out over the intercom and posted up on the notice board for the children to see and hear. This legacy is carried through today and the local schools are very active in teaching the children about the environment and litter prevention. At the time the members of the Environment Group were Kathleen & Charlie Glackin, John Griffin, Phyllis Reynolds, Edward Gillespie, Madeliene Doherty, Bernie Crowley, Margaret O’Brien, Rosaleen McCool, John O’Donnell R.I.P., Phillomena McGowan R.I.P., Brenda Hegarty, Jenniffer Gallagher, Marie McGirr and Eleanor Griffin. Kathleen also took on the role of secretary for the group.
Tidy Towns Environment Group
In April 2009 the Tidy Towns and the Environment group joined forces to become the Tidy Towns Environment Group and presently the focus is on preparing for the Tidy Towns Competition, getting everyone involved and getting people to take pride in their own areas. Kathleen would love to also focus more on the environment however it is difficult to be all things for everyone. The new group was joined by Cllr. Patrick McGowan at this time.
Kathleen still continues in her role as secretary of the T.T. Environment Group up to the present day. In May of this year the group attended a meeting in Letterkenny about Sustainable Waste Management and a talk was given by Anne O’Leary, the Tidy Towns National Adjudicator. Kathleen herself is a firm believer in the promotion of recycling and feels that it would be beneficial for the environment and the people in general if there were more opportunities for people to learn how they can reduce their waste. Indeed, with increased waste disposal costs looming in the future, the option of having an education based programme where people can learn more about how to recycle would appeal to many.
Both Charlie and Kathleen take part in the local community clean-up events and regularly can be seen collecting rubbish along the Glenfinn Road. They, like many others in the environment group and the community would urge all to make good use of the local recycling centre based at Railway Road as many people don’t realise that many goods including electrical can be left in there for free.
Currently there is a drive on to tidy up the Twin Towns for the tidy towns competition and the group are working hard to get the place in ship shape fashion. Volunteers have been out in full force planting all the local flower beds and many derelict buildings have also been painted up which has certainly helped the overall look of the towns. The group would like to appeal for new members to get involved and take pride in their community. Future plans for the group are the upkeep of the stone flower boxes and hanging baskets, getting funds to buy plants and purchase more trees for the area. They would also like to source funding that would help them to improve all areas of the town and the local environment.
Now you would think that this couple would be busy enough, but on top of all of the above they are both involved with the St. Mary’s Church Cleaning Team and have been for the past 10 years.
At the beginning of this piece I referred to Kathleen and Charlie and an active couple, in hindsight I think this is a massive understatement, such is the work they continue to be involved in for their community. It was a pleasure to interview them and I can honestly say that they are a fantastic example of the benefits of being involved in community and having an active lifestyle. They are both wished heartiest congratulations on this their 60th wedding anniversary year and many more of them. Long may they continue their great work together.