Spurred on by his love of Longford, John Martin founded the Longford Association in Manchester in the 1980’s.
Now, almost one year since John’s passing, his family are picking up where he left off over 20 years ago, rekindling Manchester’s links with Longford.
Walking into the opening of the Manchester Irish festival in March, the first thing John’s daughter Margaret saw was a banner that John had made as Chairman of the Association in the 80’s. Deciding to once again set up the association, Margaret sought the advice of the Council of Irish Associations in Manchester, where she found out that the last chairperson, the late Mick Cassidy from Ballinamuck, had kept the association in constitution, making it easier to renew the group.
Now, as well as being Chairperson of the Longford Association in Manchester, Margaret is also joint secretary of the Council of Irish Associations in Manchester. “She’s really thrown herself in the deep end” laughs Margaret’s sister, Maria Byrne, who lives with her family in Newtownforbes.
The renewal of this link has very much been a family affair; Margaret’s husband Ian is the Association’s secretary, and her sons are also on the committee. In addition, Margaret’s sister Maria is the committee’s PRO and Irish Link member, while their brother Luke is also a member.
The family credit the Roscommon Association in Manchester and Joe Casserley’s Full Irish Radio show for their incredible support.
The family hope to promote Longford and to encourage people to visit Longford instead of just passing through or stopping off to eat. “It’s absolutely beautiful where we live” Maria says, adding: “People don’t appreciate how gorgeous it is, that’s what we want to encourage.”
The association’s first event will take place on October 18 in the Chorlton Club, High Lane, a fitting tribute to a great man, as John’s anniversary falls shortly before the event. A raffle will take place, with prizes donated by Longford businesses on offer. There will also be an information table about Longford, containing fliers and booklets on the county.
Longford will also be represented in Manchester’s St Patrick’s Day parade next year – one of the biggest parades outside Ireland, with over 100,000 spectators.
The family are grateful to all who have supported them along the way. Along with the Roscommon Association in Manchester and Joe Casserley’s Full Irish, Margaret, Marie and Luke extend their thanks to Kieran in Elegant Interiors, Loughrey’s Pharmacy, Music Centre Longford, Mick Flavin, Durkins, Anna Delaney from the Longford Tourist office, and, in particular, Margaret and Peter Dillon of Dillon’s Bar and Bistro for their continued support and the donation of raffle prizes.
For more information, search for Longford Association Manchester on Facebook, follow @Longfordmcr on Twitter, or email Margaret on email@example.com.