2012 will be remembered as the year that Ballon won award after award after award. At the Carlow Pride of Place Awards, held in Mount Wolseley Hotel in Tullow in October, Ballon Village was declared the overall winner for 2012 – an award that carried a prize valued €800. It’s just reward for a hard-working Ballon Improvement Group and a handful of individuals who keep the village neat and clean all year round and not just in preparation for one competition or another. Ballon fought off the challenge of Clonegal, Bagenalstown and Borris to win the top prize. In addition to the overall prize, Ballon also picked up the ‘Streets Award’ and with it a cheque for €200.Next up was Siopa Glas which won a cheque for €500 in the ‘Penny Pinchers’ category. Finally, it was the turn of Maple Lawn which won the ‘Best Kept Estate’ category in the Borris Electoral Area for the fifth successive year and with it a cheque for €500. Altogether the Ballon delegation at the prize giving ceremony returned home €2,000 better off and we can rest assured that it will all be ploughed back into village improvements in 2013. Ballon’s Soipa Glas, opened in June as a means to raise money for village improvements, won the Best Green Business Award at The Innovate Carlow Start Up & Business Awards 2012 hosted by the Carlow Enterprise Board also in October. From the day it opened its doors Siopa Glas has been an outstanding success and all of the Siopa Glas volunteers can be proud of their achievements in making the Siopa what it is to-day.

Back in February and for the second successive year Ballon won a major award in the National Glór na nGael competition. This time round Glór Balana won a special Heritage Award in recognition of their ‘Nature and Heritage Trail’, ‘Slí na Sceacha’ which is situated adjacent to The Forge Restaurant in Kilbride. The prize was a cheque for €1,500. And what of the woman behind many, if not all, of these successes?  Well justice was done in November when Máire George was chosen as the winner of the Community Services category in the Carlow Person of the Year Awards for 2012.


Ballon Improvement Group and Ghlór Bhalana marked Heritage Week 2012 with a very novel event held at the Forge Restaurant and Walk Way in August. The event was bi-lingual. A 19th Century Hedge School (Scoil Scairta) was recreated at The Forge and children from the locality were invited to attend and travel back in time to the 1840s in Ireland. The children were dressed in clothes typical of the period and arrived to the Hedge School barefoot, without school bags, writing materials or books. The class was led by the Hedge School Mháistreás, Bríd Ní Fhiannaí from Myshall who did a wonderful job recreating the atmosphere of an now ancient way of life. Slates with charcoal were used instead of pencil and paper, fern leaves doubled up as a latter day abacus, stones helped the pupils to tap out the beat of the music, old strands of wool were put to use to make homemade dolls and teddies.


Sunday, 22 July was a momentous and nostalgic day in the life of Fr Paddy Travers SS.CC as the Californian based priest returned to his native Ballon to celebrate a special Mass to mark the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. The Kilmurry native, who was born in 1937 and the youngest of 11 children of John and Julia Travers, was ordained in Cootehill, County Cavan in June 1962. He was joined on his special day by his sisters, Mrs Betty Kinsella and Mrs. Bridget Hogan, along with members of the extended Kinsella family from Killeshin and the Kirwan family from Aghade. Afterwards family and friends gathered in The Community Centre for refreshments and to renew old acquaintances.    


Two of our top and well established musicians made the headlines during the year. Billy Kirwan, Bendenstown, became something of an overnight success in 2012 after more than forty years in the business. Billy got his break in January when he appeared on Sky’s 201 ‘The Hot Country’, a Country and Irish Music programme singing ‘Two Little Girls in Blue’ an old song he learned from his late mother. Billy gave a stunning performance, so much so that the recording become an instant hit on YouTube.  Pat Bermingham, Ballynunnery, launched his first CD in October. After a lifetime of playing music and entertaining the masses, Pat felt the time was right to finally record a CD, hence the title ‘After All These Years’. The 12-track collection of country, old-time and Irish music and song was recorded at Crab Lane Studios, Coolkenno, Tullow, and all music and vocals are performed by Pat who also produced and arranged the album. Included are three self-composed instrumental tracks.


Kirsty Maher, daughter of Paul and Maeve Maher, Kilbricken won the gold medal in the girl’s under-14 competition and Ciara Brennan, daughter of David and Dolores Brennan, Laragh won the silver medal in the under-16 section at the national Community Games art finals in Athlone in May. For both girls it was a case of if at first you don’t succeed, try again, as they contested the finals last year but without getting amongst the medals.


Áina Holden, The Oaks, Ballon had the distinction of carrying the Olympic Torch when it come to Dublin in June . Aine was selected through Community Games via a long process of elimination to be one of the bearers of the flame when it arrived in Croke Park. She rubbed shoulders with the cream of Irish sporting stars and it certainly was a great occasion for the 13 year-old and one she will cherish for years to come. Aine is daughter of Padraig and Annette Holden, The Oaks.

In April pupils from Ballon National School filled the first three places in the Carlow Historical Society’s annual competition for historical essay/projects relating to County Carlow, Orla Kenny, daughter of Paul and Linda Kenny, Graiguenaspidogue won the competition for the second successive year with her project on Kavanagh’s Castles of County Carlow, having won in 2011 with a project on the Old National School in Graiguenaspidogue. The runner-up was Raena McElwee, daughter of Colm and Tommi McElwee, Altamont with a project on St. Mullins Motte and Bailey while third place went to David Lalor, son of Padraig and Elaine Lalor, Ballykealey with a project on St. Fortiarnán’s Holy Well and The White Church, Killoughternane.

Seamus Cummins, Ballon, made the news when he was presented with a Special appreciation Award for twenty-five years of service to the Carlow Football League at their End of Season Awards. Later in the year Seamus brought the curtain down on 25 years service as chairman of Burrin Celtic FC, Seamus was elected to the chair at the inaugural meeting of the club in 1987 and for a quarter of a century has been the driving force behind soccer in Ballon.

Twelve year old, Holly Barrett, The Oaks, Ballon was one of the chosen few to take part in a camogie game in Croke Park during the interval of the minor final between Dublin and Tipperary recently. Holly, representing Ballon NS, had the amazing experience of playing before 81,000 spectators.

Tadhg Downey, Forge Meadow, Ballon, was selected Leinster table-tennis Champion for the 2011/12 season under- 11 in October. The competition is judged on performance over five different Leinster tournaments in the season.


A sum of €431,000 was approved for a facelift and extension to Ballon Community Centre. The grant will cover 75% of the work that the committee intends carrying out. These include a two storey extension to the left of the main hall which will include a foyer, kitchen, changing rooms, toilets and showers as well as meeting and storage rooms. The main hall will be upgraded and will be used for bingo, dancing and indoor sports. Work will commence in March 2013.


We had the usual annual events like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which after 27 years continues to attract the crowds. Ballon National School Raised their fourth Green Flag. This time for their efforts to promote greener travel to and from school. The ceremony was performed by ‘Voice of Ireland’ winner, Pat Byrne.

Ballon Improvement Group held a tree planting ceremony on the Carlow Road on St. Patrick’s Day. The oak tree is dedicated to Mick McGrath, Maple Lawn, who passed away just after Christmas. Mick was the driving force behind Tidy Towns in Ballon and, in fact, for many years was’ a one-man committee’ And on the subject of Tidy towns Ballon received 265 marks out of a possible 400. This was an increase of 5 marks on that obtained in 2011. Two new classrooms were built at Ballon National School and were completed in time for the school re-opening in September while Rathoe National Schools also had a major extension completed during the year.