LOUISE Donlon was given an emotional send off last week as the Dunamaise Arts Centre board of directors said goodbye to their centre director, who had been at the helm for the past 13 years.
Chairman of the board of directors, Louis Brennan thanked Louise for her “monumental contribution” to the Dunamaise, and also to life in Laois while she was living here. “I remember the interview selection process and Louise coming in to be interviewed. She was a beautiful young lady who was pregnant and I remember thinking to myself, ‘janey mac’. You were head and shoulders above everyone else,” he told Louise.
He complimented her on the experience and knowledge as well as her tremendous programmes which “expanded and broadened the appetite” for the arts in Laois. He also paid tribute to her skills, which had been tested in the last few years, he said. “You gave support to the employees, the board of directors, as well as panto groups, drama, musicals, schools, playschools and sports. You are dedicated and totally committed, and you were as nice as pie and as tough as old boots”.
Louis also mentioned the Arts Council of Ireland of which Louise is a member and told her “we are very proud of your achievements”, wishing Louise, her husband Jim and their children Ellen, Katie and Meave the best with their new adventure.
Speaking on behalf of staff Nick Anton told Louise that she would be “missed terribly” and that they shared a great 13 years working together. Board member Councillor Mary Sweeney said that Louise was “terribly pleasant but very firm”. Mary said that the board had learned an awful lot from Louise and that she had given pleasure to everyone who had attended the theatre.
Anna Marie Delaney, director of services spoke on behalf of Laois County Council’s county manager and said that the great contribution the centre had made to Laois was down to Louise. Arts Officer Muireann Ni Chonnaill who knew Louise since college said that Louise would be missed but that she looked forward to keeping in touch.
An emotional Louise was presented with a piece of sculpture by Malthouse Stradbally artist Edita Szymanska and with a piece of jewellery by Arthouse Stradbally jeweller Helena Malone from the board of directors. “I’m going to miss it here an awful lot, it has been fantastic and I really enjoyed working here. I will always hold treasured memories”, she said.