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Clifden Town Hall is ready to turn it up to eleven at their local arts festival, dance classes, and their long-standing Bingo nights, having installed a new, state-of-the-art sound system with the support of Community Finance Ireland (CFI).

The Town Hall building has been a central part of the Clifden community for over 100 years and has undergone significant renovations in the past decade. General Manager, Kevin Gavin says this latest technological upgrade has kitted Clifden Town Hall out for the increasing number of activities they host for the local community including dance classes for young and old; indoor bowls; meditation; Thursday night Bingo and the longest-running community arts festival in Ireland, Clifden Community Arts Festival.

Clifden Town Hall Mary Nohilly
Photographed at Clifden Town Hall are: Stephen O’Donnell, Clifden Town Hall committee member and Mary Nohilly, Community Finance Ireland (CFI) Client Relationship Manager Connaught and Donegal. Photo credit: Andrew Downes Photography

Mr. Gavin described how he remembered a chance meeting with Community Finance Ireland CEO Dónal Traynor when the time came to apply for funding for the much-needed sound system upgrade. He said:

“When I met Dónal at an event a few years ago, his commitment to supporting community organisations had stayed with me. When our committee recognised that we urgently needed funding for a new sound system for the hall, I immediately thought of Community Finance Ireland.

“Our experience with CFI has felt like a very personal one. It has always felt like Mary is just down the road and is happy to answer any questions we might have.”

Clifden Town Hall
Photographed at Clifden Town Hall are: Mary Nohilly, Community Finance Ireland (CFI) Client Relationship Manager; Ailbhe Gavin, aged 11; Kevin Gavin, Clifden Town Hall General Manager; Aoibhín O’Malley, aged 12; Cllr Eileen Mannion and Gráinne Gavin, aged 17. Photo credit: Andrew Downes Photography

Mary Nohilly, CFI Client Relationship Manager for Connacht and Donegal said:

“It has been a pleasure to work with the team at Clifden Town Hall. This beautiful, warm space brings so many people together from the local community and the great many visitors the area welcomes throughout the year. The team here provide so many fantastic activities and now everyone will be able to enjoy relaxing background music at their meditation sessions, and hear every call clearly at Thursday night bingo!”

Supporting Communities in Galway

Between 2016 and 2022, Community Finance Ireland delivered €3.4 million in social finance supports to volunteer and community-led organisations in Connacht, including €0.9m million in support of projects in Galway.

Based on a Social Value Analysis undertaken by the Rural Community Network in Northern Ireland, CFI has established that its funding solution delivers a return on investment that creates a multiplier effect of 3.42 times the initial investment through wider social benefits such as improved community health and increased employment opportunities and skill levels.

If you want to unlock a grant award or have a community idea that needs finance get in touch with a team member near you or simply search community finance.

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At Community Finance Ireland we take a hands-on approach when it comes to working with our clients. We put people first. When our clients call with a query, they hear a familiar voice at the end of the phone. They know the face who is at the other end of an email. Our Change-Makers are on the ground, supporting communities, meeting clients and making an impact in their regions.

We speak finance but we hear people – So, we thought you might like to get to know them a bit better.

Our next Change-Maker is Anne Graham, Client Executive from Drumfries, Co.Donegal. A new face in the Community Finance Ireland team, Anne is taking advantage of the easing of restrictions to get out and about in Connaught to meet with clients like Sensational Kids, Ballinasloe Town Hall Theatre and Alone.

Some of Anne’s clients from L to R: Sensational Kids, Ballinasloe Town Hall Theatre and Alone.

What did your journey to Community Finance Ireland look like?

I have worked in Financial Services throughout my whole career and wore many hats such as a Loan & Mortgage Advisor and Business Executive, these roles provided me with me valuable credit assessment skills which I bring to my new role at Community Finance Ireland.

Throughout my career, I gained invaluable and highly educational, practical experience but I felt I still needed a formal qualification to complement the skills I garnered over the years.  In 2017, I decided to undertake an MBA in Business Administration, through University of Ulster, which I completed in May 2020.  I thoroughly enjoyed this educational experience and believe the timing of this course was ideal as it allowed me to reflect, value and share my professional, practical and voluntary experience. 

Away from work, I have been a volunteer at our local community centreSliabh Sneacht CentreI began working with our committee as a treasurer and fundraiser and I now hold the position of chairperson.  This voluntary experience was instrumental in steering my latest career move to CFI as I fully understand the challenges, difficulties and rewarding experience that comes with working in a community setting and that sense of shared achievement when your dream becomes a reality.  I can’t wait to help and support ‘the dreamers’ and I believe I am ideally positioned to support ‘the change makers’ as I have walked their path before.

What does your current client base look like? Are there sectors you expect to see or want to see growth in?

My current client base is broad and diverse and includes everything from tourism and sport, to housing associations and forestry groups. Out here in the west we have rich cultural heritage and strong community organisations so I work with a range of community centres, museums, arts centres, drama groups, church and faith-based groups. One day I’m talking to an angling group, the next is a counselling service, the next it’s a community playgroup.

As a result of Covid-19, I think we’ll see more organisations within those sectors growing and trying to meet the changing demands in their local communities. Covid-19 has also shown us the benefits of physical activity and outdoor spaces. Staycations will provide growth opportunities in tourism and outdoor pursuits. The pandemic has shown that we don’t necessarily need to be tied to a fixed office space and as a result, growth of remote working hubs has been fast tracked. Never has the concept of wellbeing and mental health ever been amplified more and its importance to every facet of our society, the need for connectedness and community has been magnified and immeasurable.

Do you have a client that, in your opinion, best demonstrates the impact Community Finance Ireland can have?

To me, there are a number of clients that really demonstrate the impact Community Finance Ireland can have.

Tourmakeady GAA Club in Mayo are exemplars in what can be achieved in a rural sports Club. It is much more than a sports club it is the community centre of this locality.

IRD Kiltimagh in Mayo who support directly and indirectly Enterprise, Tourism, Housing, Arts, any other community group that needs support.

How do you switch off from work? What are your hobbies and interests?

I switch off by spending time with family and friends. I’m kept busy during the week with my son and daughter’s sporting activities (football and GAA). Most nights there is training or match to attend. At the weekends I try to squeeze in a bit of jogging and sea swimming with friends and walking with family. I also enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes when time allows, and have recently joined a ladies’ book club so I’m looking forward to reading more.

Now you know a little more about us, we’d like to hear about you.

If you and your team have a dream that could make a difference in your community, we’re here to listen. Whether you want to change something by solving a problem or creating an opportunity, we want to hear what you have to say.