30 Fin O'Neill

Fin O'Neill, Abbey St, Ballinrobe
Fin O'Neill
Ballinrobe Writers Group at the launch of their book Red Shoes & No Clichés in November 2011 L to R back: John Corless, Maura Lydon, Mary Boyle, Fin O'Neill, Breda Dallaghan, Imelda Hughes, Margaret Tywbill, Josie Mercer & Clare O'Malley Senator Marie Louise O'Donnell, Mary Walsh, Sadie Sommerville, Ina Horan & Noreen Brown
Fin O'Neill

Fin was born in Shropshire, England in 1937 to Gerald and Nora Hoban who came from Mayo. Nora (nee O’Donnell) had lived in Abbey Street, Ballinrobe for about 20 years before her marriage in 1933.

Irish Heritage kept alive

Every Sunday morning Fin’s parents kept their children’s Irish heritage alive by singing Irish songs and telling Irish stories. Fin recalls annual St Patrick’s Day celebrations when she was dressed in a lovely green dress.

Move to Dublin

After her father’s death in 1945 Fin’s mother brought her family to live in Dublin in 1948.

Following secondary school and commercial college Fin went to work in Guinness’s. She met her future husband Rory when he was a class mate of her brother in the Veterinary College. Rory came to work in Ballinrobe in January 1960 when he was employed by Pat Daly in Main Street.

Started Married Life

In August 1960 Rory and Fin, by an amazing coincidence, started married life in Abbey Street where they brought up their six children including Rory (Panti Bliss) the internationally known human rights activist, whose performance of “The Noble Call” in The Abbey Theatre in 2014 reached a worldwide audience.

Becoming involved in Community Life

As a young mother Fin became involved in community life in Ballinrobe. Her membership of the Irish Country Women’s Association lead to her involvement with other organisations such as the Town Development Association, the Town Hall, the Agricultural Show and the Credit Union. She was secretary for over 20 years of the Annual Sale of Work which raised much needed funds for the Church buildings, schools, charities and organisations.

National Chairperson of  Community Games

In the late 1970’s a friend of Fin’s, who was then National Chairperson of Community Games, encouraged her to become part of the development of the games in Mayo which was the only county in the country not represented. “Hang Down Your Head Co Mayo” was a headline in the Sunday paper at the time! Fin took up the challenge and moved the idea along, becoming the first County Secretary of Mayo Community Games and is pleased that the organisation still flourishes.

Founder of Ballinrobe Active Retirement

Together with Ina Horan, Fin was one of the founding members of Ballinrobe Active Retirement Association – her husband Rory as the first Chairperson. The group has successfully completed its 20th year with over 90 members. As creative writing was an interest of some members Ina and Fin set up the BARA Creative Writing Group. This group went from success to success over the years with the book “Red Shoes & No Clichés” being ones of its publications; it continues to be very active.

Continued Participation in Community Organisations

Fin was a minister of the Eucharist and reads regularly in St Mary’s Church in Ballinrobe. She continues to keep an eye on the many groups and organisations with which she was involved.

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