PHOTO GALLERY: Annual Convention of Lions Ireland brings €130k to Kildare economy

Newbridge Kildare Lions host event

Leinster Leader reporter

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Up to 360 guests attended the 48th Annual Convention of Lions Ireland last weekend generating over €130,000 for the local economy.

Newbridge Kildare Lions Club President Morgan McCabe stated the convention was a tremendous success.

“The feedback from our visitors both national and international was extremely positive,” he said.

He said the delegates loved Hotel Keadeen and the genuine Kildare hospitality offered to them by Rose, Joseph and Anna O'Loughlin.

He said most visitors stated it was the best convention in the last 48 years.

Mr McCabe stressed he was filled with pride with the club's efforts over two years in organising this event and thanked Rory de Bruir, Chairman of the organising committee, Jenny Habenicht, Pat Brady and April McCabe.

Being a charity organisation the Lions Club depended heavily on sponsors to help deliver the event. Kildare County Council and the Kildare Newbridge Municipal District generously supported this convention and without this assistance and the help of others including Newbridge Silverware, Schlötter, The Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens, Kildare Village Outlet, McLoughlins Oil, Hotel Keadeen and Dublin Coach, the Convention would have been very difficult to host.

"Thanks to all this generous help assistance and club members efforts the 48th Annual Convention was an outstanding success," said Cllr McCabe.

District Governor of Lions Club Ireland, Paul Allen stated that Kildare Village hosted a wonderful civic reception on Friday for the arrival of the international guests and dignitaries.

Mayor of Kildare, Ivan Keatley honoured the club by speaking at the reception and highlighted the great work Newbridge Kildare Lions Club does locally, and how the Lions organisation helps people in need internationally.

Last Saturday morning, Tánaiste France Fitzgerald officially opened the conference with a wonderful speech. She stated that Lions Clubs in Ireland are a tremendous assets to the country, especially the way they work discreetly in the background, delivering tremendous service to communities with respect and dignity for their fellow citizens when in difficulty.

The Tánaiste also mentioned some of the wonderful projects the Lions clubs are involved in, from funding for the guide and assist dogs for the blind and autistic children, as well as social housing projects on a national level.

The convention continued in the afternoon at Hotel Keadeen with a presentation about the UN peacekeeping Irish forces' work in the last 50 years and how they are respected as an impartial peacekeeping force.

This was followed with a lecture by Alison de Bruir (BL a Trial Counsel with the Office of the Prosecutor at the Special Tribunal for the Lebanon in the Hague), spoke about the International Criminal Justice System.

District Governor, Nils Orme of Norway gave the delegates an enlightening and disturbing view of conditions in the Lebanon close to the border of Syria. He showed photos of children and families living in desolate and miserable abject poverty, people walking around in -20°C in their bare feet.

Nils went on to speak about the work that Lions international carries out in the Lebanon. The work is mainly aimed at building schools and educating children so that education won’t skip a generation, which would be detrimental to their society's future. Schools, that Lions international build cost €140,000, are called Safe Centres and Lions also pay for teachers who operated a double shift system every day so that more children can be educated.

Newbridge Kildare Lions make annual financial contributions to this project.

Past International Director, Judge Haynes Townsend of Georgia, USA, addressed the Convention and spoke about Lions International and their involvement in a measles and rubella immunisation programme in conjunction with the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation.

Lions Clubs internationally were tasked with raising $30,000,000 which will be doubled by the Gates Foundation.This will mean that 60 million vaccinations will now be given to children in disadvantaged countries, over 400 children a day die from this disease. The long term objective is to eliminate this disease completely. Newbridge Kildare Lions Club also contribute to this important project.

Mayor of the Municipal District, Mark Stafford, gave a very entertaining and incisive closing speech.

Club President, Morgan McCabe, gave a miraculous speech as he had lost his voice that day, but his speech indicating his sense of pride of Newbridge Kildare Lions Clubs efforts came through loud and clear as he whispered a toast to his fellow Lions and guests.

A tree planting ceremony was held to mark the centenary of Lions International, founded in 1917. The tree was presented by Lion Paddy Gleeson and planted by Rose O'Loughlin of Hotel Keadeen.

Hotel Keadeen is the home of Newbridge Kildare Lions Club for the past 41 years. Lion, John McLoughlin, of McLoughlin Oil, presented Rose O'Loughlin with a bench, which now has pride of place in Keadeen, also marking the centennial celebrations.