Who Are We
Westport Lions Club is a small group of men and women volunteering a small portion of their free time towards improving the livelihoods of their fellow citizens and the betterment of the communities in which they live.
Since 1987 we have assisted the most vulnerable people in our district- the elderly, the lonely, the sick, the bereaved, the unemployed and people whom through no fault of their own find themselves in difficult circumstances.
We who are blessed with good fortune, owe it to our fellow citizens to extend a helping hand to those, should misfortune visit their doorsteps. The great joy, satisfaction, personal fulfilment that is derived from volunteering some of your free time or sharing your resources with people in distress, is now regarded by psychologists as a most enriching experience, in providing inner joy and promoting a feeling of well being in the individual.
The rewards of giving are priceless. If you want to have happiness, you must give happiness. It is only by giving that you receive. The gift of joy will come to you when you give yourself to others.
Where Do We Meet
We meet in the Clew Bay Hotel, James St, Westport, on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 8.p.m (except August). The meetings last for approximately one hour and we normally have some social interaction or bonding afterwards which lasts for about a half hour.
Westport Lions Clubs Main Activities
Xmas Food Appeal on behalf of the local chapter of Vincent De Paul
Parties for the patients and friends of the McBride Home
Annual Summer Holiday for Senior Citizens and people who don’t normally have a holiday
Annual Pilgrimage to Knock
Cyber-bullying education in schools
Message in a bottle
For almost 30 yrs, in the weeks prior to Xmas the Westport Lions Club have organized a Food Appeal at the local supermarkets in the town. The food and donations are then passed on to the St. Vincent De Paul who are the most knowledgeable in deciding the most worthy recipients. This arrangement has worked very successfully over the years.
Parties at McBride Home
Since its inception the Westport Lions Club have on a number of occasions each year organized parties and outings for the patients and friends of the McBride Home. The entertainment is always provided by local artists, musicians, dancers and these are ,very enjoyable occasions as they are attended by relatives of the patients, some young people and members of the public.
This project was started by Lions Mickey Berry R.I.P and T.J Hughes and is now in the capable hands of Lion Brendan O’Malley. It is now one of the longest projects running having started over 25 years ago.
Pilgrimage To Knock
On the first Sunday of September Westport Lions take 50 people to Knock Shrine. These would include people from the McBride Home, Wheelchair patients and senior citizens who otherwise would not have an opportunity of making the pilgrimage.
For almost 30 years Westport Lions Club have been taking people away for a Summer break. We took part in the Irish Lions Clubs national holiday at the Mosney Holiday camp in Co. Meath. After the closure of Mosney we brought our guests to the Trabolgan Holiday Camp in Co. Cork. Because of the long and exhausting journey to Cork it was decided to use resorts nearer to home. Over the last 15 years, Westport Lions Club have taken 20-30 guests each year to venues such as Galway, Bundoran, Athlone, Ballina.
Tours, bingo, talent competitions are organized and local musicians accompany to provide the night entertainment.This holiday is the highlight of the for many of our senior citizens particularly those living alone and is keenly awaited each May.
Bullying and particularly cyber-bullying has become a major problem in our society and parents are having serious difficulty in keeping abreast of their children’s increasing use of social media. Lions Clubs Of Ireland have compiled a information brochure with the assistance of Mr. Sean Fallon, a retired teacher who is an expert in this field and it have distributed several thousands to the schools in the district. Last year Westport Lions invited Sean Fallon to Westport to address teachers and parents in the area. He gave invaluable advice on what to be on the look out for and the steps that teachers should take to deal with the problem effectively.
Westport Lions Club organizes Diabetic Screening at the foot of Croagh Patrick on Reek Sunday. This is a very important project as Ireland is experiencing a major increase in the numbers of people diagnosed with diabetes. When not diagnosed and treated early, it can result in serious heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and many other problems. It is estimated that 30,000 people are walking around unaware that they have the disease.
Message In A Bottle
The message in a bottle is an emergency information scheme which involves placing a personal information form containing all relevant medical details of a persons health in a plastic bottle and placing it in the fridge. A sticker on the door of the fridge alerts the first person to arrive in the house. This enables emergency services to identify the person’s medical history should they be called out to a serious incident. This can be very useful for persons living alone in remote rural districts.
Present Officers 2016-2017
President - Darren Cawley
Secretary - Des Ryan
Treasurer - Sean O’Malley
Assistant Treasurer - Seamus O’Connell
P.R.O. - Emma Cawley
Immediate Past President - Seamus O’Connell
Tailtwister - Michael Downes
Finance Committee - Darren Cawley
1987 - 88 Mickey Cavanaugh R.I.P
1988 - 89 Dr. Bert Farrell R.I.P
1989 - 90 Sean O’Malley
1990 - 91 Kevin McDonagh R.I.P
1991 - 92 Michael Downes
1992 - 93 Jock Jackson
1993 - 94 Martin Walsh R.I.P
1994 - 95 Joe Berry R.I.P
1995 - 96 T.J Hughes
1996 - 97 Jimmy Kearns
1997 - 98 Ernie Deacy
1998 - 99 Pat Murphy
1999 - 00 Michael Moran
2000 - 01 Jackie Foley R.I.P
2001 - 02 Michael Cadden
2002 - 03 Vinnie Hughes
2003 - 04 John Meaney
2004 - 05 Gerry Fox
2005 - 06 Dermot Kelly
2006 - 07 Rhona Chambers
2007 - 08 Vinnie Hughes
2008 - 09 Darren Madden
2009 - -10 John Scahill
2010 - 11 Bernardine McGlade
2011 - 12 Jock Jackson
2012 - 13 Des Ryan
2013 - 14 Joan Collins
2014 - 15 Roni Doyle
2015 - 16 Seanus O’Connell
2016 - 17 Darren Cawley
Westport Lions Clubs
Westport Lions Club was founded in 1987 by Michael Downes a Limerick man living in Westport who had been a member of Castlebar Lions Club for a number of years. The Club was sponsored and mentored by the Castlebar Lions for the first few years.
The Charter Dinner was held in the Clew Bay Hotel at the end of May 1987.
Charter members were
Tony Dawson, Chris Grady, John Morahan, Chris Lavelle, T.J Hughes, Michael Downes, Pat Kilroy, R.I.P, Mickey Cavanaugh, R.I.P, Pat Murphy, Michael Moran, Denis Egan, R.I.P, Sean O’Malley, Dr. Bert Farrell, R.I.P. The late Mickey Cavanaugh was the first President and the Charter was presented to the Club by the then District Governor Domnick O’Hare from Belfast who is now deceased. Dr. Bert Farrell was nominated as the first Vice President and Tony Dawson was appointed as Secretary. The Club had 20 members in the initial year (all male) but membership increased to over 40 in subsequent years but has declined again to 20 members in the last few years.
During the Presidency of Lion T.J Hughes ladies were invited to join, as of to day they make up almost half of the total membership. Westport Lions Club is exceptional in that it is the only Lions Club in Mayo to have lady members. Westport Lions Club has hosted the National Convention on two occasions in 1999 and again in 2005, both held in early March and they were attended by several hundred Lions and their spouses giving local tourism a financial boost in the shoulder season.
The Lions Club since its inception has undertaken many projects which have been of great benefit to many individuals and the community at large. In the 80’s a major fundraiser was organized to help with the provision of the first Kidney Dialysis machine for the County Hospital in Castlebar. A programe called Tacade whichs pecialized in educating and equipping young people to cope with drugs and alcohol misuse was rolled out in all the second level schools in the Westport District.
In the early 90’s the possibility of setting up a hospice for the Mayo/ Roscommon regions was first mooted by Westport Lions Club. The Castlebar and Roscommon Lions Clubs were asked to support the proposal and each Club was asked to fundraise in their respective districts.
Intensive fund raising by the Westport Lions enabled the Club to hand over seed capitol of £25,000 to a steering committee to get the hospice movement off the ground and in a short few years our dream became a reality and a team of Hospice trained nurses were providing Palliative Care services throughout the County.
The Hospice Project has been the most significant achievement of Westport Lions Club and the Club was represented on Steering Committee for many years by Dr. Bert Farrell and Michael Downes.
Many other projects followed;
A major fundraiser enabled Westport Lions Club to make a large contribution to the R.N.L.I for the establishment of a Lifeboat Base at Darby’s Point, Achill. Thyroxin tablets to the value of £55,000 were sent to Chernoybl after the nuclear power station calamity.
Many fundraisers were organized over the years for people who needed specialist medical treatment not available at home. The Lions also helped many people who needed short term financial assistance to get them over a difficult period in their lives.
In 2006 Westport Lions Club embarked on a Third World Projects in Malindi, Kenya which included the construction of classrooms and toilets in primary schools, the gifting of pedigree dairy goats to 250 families, the provision of beehives and poultry for self sustainable schemes to improve the livelihoods of women groups in rural villages. A total of 20 boreholes were drilled and water was provided for 20,000 people and the funding for these projects was raised by the Westport Lions Club organizing sponsored walks and soliciting donations from local industries and the public at large.
All monies raised locally were backed pound for pound by a Grant from Lions Clubs International foundation. Due to political instability along the East coast of Kenya, these projects are stalled for the moment.
Westport Lions have over the years contributed to many disaster funds and recently raised €15,000 in a few days to send to Katmandu after the horrific earthquake. Contributions have also been made to the Haiti Disaster Fund to support a local Westport lady who has done Trojan work there over the last 20 years. Westport Lions Club would like to acknowledge the financial contributions made to the Club by the late Mick Lavelle, the legendary bard, raconteur, song writer and traditional story teller who donated the proceeds from the sales of his CD’s to the Club to be used for charitable purposes. May he rest in Peace.
Lions Clubs International
The Lions Clubs was founded by a businessman Melvin Jones in Chicago, Illinois, in 1917. He summoned a number of his wealthy business friends to a meeting and said that in the light of their success and good fortune in their business enterprises, it was incumbent on each one to be mindful of their less fortunate fellow human beings. He told them that “You cant get very far in life until you start doing something for somebody else”. This became a guiding principle for public spirited people the world over.
From this simple beginning, this huge global organisation has developed, and now Lions are engaged in humanitarian work in all four corners of the world. It is a non political, non sectarian, all embracing organisation. Lions Clubs is the largest service organisation in the world. It has 1.4 million members, over 46,000 Clubs and are based in over 200 countries.
It is a most effective and efficient organisation in that all services are distributed by volunteers thereby eliminating high administrative costs and ensuring that donations are delivered in their entirety to the intended targets.
Lions members worldwide volunteer their time and enegy towards improving the livelihoods of fellow human beings who through no fault of their own are down on their luck due to illness, infirmity, economic necessity, bereavement, natural disasters just to mention a few. The Lions motto is ‘We Serve’ and it is this philosophy that has inspired the organisation to do extraordinary things in providing humanitarian aid throughout the world since its foundation in 1917.
Hellen Keller a woman from Alabama who was blind and deaf but had learned sign language and braille. She was a passionate advocate of improving the lives of people with disabilities. She attended a Lions Convention in 1925, and approached Melvin Jones and solicited support from the Lions for her work with the blind. She asked that Lions become ‘Knights of the blind in the Crusade against darkness’
As a result of this, ‘Sight First’ became the Lions Clubs biggest International Project particularly in the Third World. As a result of Lions ‘Sight First’ Projects, millions of people in undeveloped countries have had their eyesight restored by removal of cataracts or treatment of river blindness. Lions Clubs International have an ongoing major project called ‘ Sight First’ in Third World Countries. They have established Eye Clinics and hospitals in many towns and villages particularly in Kenya where many people suffer blindness as a result of cataracts, river blindness and measles.
They have funded the construction of Larosho Hospital in Nairobi which is a world centre of excellence for different eye abnormalities. They also financed the building of similar eye clinics throughout India. They have also teamed up with the Bill Gates and Jimmy Carter Foundations and have embarked on a major 3in1 immunisation programe during which 20 million children have been vaccinated.
They have also been very active in drilling boreholes and constructing water pans in regions that suffer severe drought each year. Lions are always to the fore when major catastrohies such as earthquakes, tsunamis, famine, drought occur and because of our global network, Lions International have been able to deliver financial aid on the ground much faster than some of the big N.G.O’s.
Melvin Jones - Lions Club Founder