Boher big helloTomás Hickey, Addie O’Connor, Sebastian and Barbara Nalewko and Bridie O’Connor attending Boher’s Big Hello
Boher Community Development Association (BCDA) took it upon themselves to tackle social isolation and strengthen community ties.
Earlier this year Minister Michael Ring launched The Big Hello. He is challenging everyone to reach out and say a Big Hello to their neighbours by organising an event. Pat O’Connell, BCDA chairman, said he proposed a similar idea at a meeting about two years ago.
“That we would have a night to get to know your neighbour. Then we heard about Minister Ring’s plan. There was funding available but we didn’t bother with that. We said we would do it our own way and have tea and sandwiches. It wasn’t going to cost a fortune,” said Pat.
They called the night Boher’s Big Hello and held it in the community centre. Pat said many newcomers have bought houses and sites in Boher and it was to welcome them. Pat said the event was all about putting a name to a face.
“When you are going up the road wouldn’t it be nice to be able to salute the driver of the car rather than saluting the car that you knew was parked at such a house,” said Pat. For example, he says there are a couple of houses across the road from where he lives.
“I knew there was a couple living in one of them and they had a little baby. I got to know them that night. I was getting to know them but they were getting to know a lot more people in the parish. It was a brilliant success,” said Pat.
Over 100 attended. There was no speeches, just a friendly chat over a cup of tea between neighbours who might not have met before.
“It’s all about building a sense of community. They are already looking forward to more events. At least they know now there is a community development association and a community centre in Boher.
“It was a great to see so many people chatting and enjoying themselves,” said Pat.
Fr Loughlin Brennan, parish priest of Murroe-Boher, helped publicise Boher’s Big Hello by announcing the date from the pulpit. He congratulated BCDA for the lovely night which “allowed people to meet and talk to each other”. Fr Brennan recommended it become an annual event.
Minister Ring said: “In a world where people are spending less time in their communities and more time at work, it is important to find new ways to connect people and focus on the importance of neighbours.” BCDA did just that.