Laois woman is neighbour of the year

A NATIVE of Borris in Ossory was recently awarded the Neighbour of the Year award at the Rehab 38th annual People of the Year awards.

A NATIVE of Borris in Ossory was recently awarded the Neighbour of the Year award at the Rehab 38th annual People of the Year awards.

Meave Flaherty (nee Bergin) who now lives in Ballinteer in Dublin, was presented her award by Ryan Tubridy of 2FM, for the phenomenal work that she has done for people in her community. The award was promoted in association with RTÉ 2FM’s Tubridy programme.

Meave, who is originally from Grange, between Greenroads and Knockaroo, told the Leinster Express that she has been on a high since winning. “I’m a very simple, down to earth woman,we were poor farmers in Borris in Ossory, this has been my Junior Cert, my Leaving Cert, my college graduation and my debs all rolled into one”. Meave said that she was preened and pampered on the day of receiving her award. “I am so grateful to Rehab, The Tubridy Show and 2FM for giving me this wonderful award and to Margaret Moran, who nominated me for the award”.

“Everyone in Ballinteer knows Maeve,” said Margaret Moran, Maeve’s neighbour of 27 years, who nominated her. “Maeve is the epitome of what a good neighbour should be, offering a helping hand to all in trouble, from neighbours caring for a sick relative, to children in need of a warm, nurturing home environment”. Meave who will turn 65 next month has lived in Ballinteer for the past 27 years with her husband Gerry. In that time, she has made a huge impact on the community - fostering children, helping the homeless, helping detox those deadling with drug and alcohol addiction, cleaning the streets, clearing litter and graffitti and helping local youth.

Meave cites her father as a huge inspiration throughout her life. “My father gave me one liners to live by like ‘if you have honesty, tell the truth’. He was a genius of a man”. She completed a fostering course a number of years ago and has helped a lot of children and teenagers. “I had great success with some, and not with others. I gave children a chance of seeing what a real home is like. I have always worked with people on the brink. I’m a woman of action”.

The award came as a total surprise to Meave who had never really spoken of her work before. But action speaks louder than words, as Meave’s kindness and compassion has touched so many of those she has come in contact with. “I went through alcoholism for ten years, I was married to a bottle. But I divorced that before I got married to Gerry at 42. It is really about your thinking, your attitude and your behaviour”. Meave often returns to Laois where her and Gerry have a house in Clonaslee, the birth place of her mother. “I love the village and the people there. I love life, I love people, I am across the board with love”, she enthused.