The Birr Year Review 2018 was officially launched in Dooly's Hotel on Friday evening.
Tony Hogan was MC at the launch and spoke extensively in Irish at the beginning, which is always great to hear.
Shane Smyth, President of Birr Lions Club, spoke thoughtfully and kindly. He said Birr Review is 18 years in existence and is an important part of the Christmas period in Birr. He said everyone involved should be very proud of delivering another fine edition. “It's a daunting task but every year you rise successfully to the challenge.” Shane praised the hard work and perspicuity of the Editor Richard Kennedy. “It was good working with Richard on this,” he remarked. “It was a joy to watch a master at work.”
Shane said the Review is a packed book full of interesting articles, reports and photographs. “It amazes me every year the number of these Annuals sent worldwide to relatives and past residents of our beautiful town, helping each one of the recipients to reconnect with Birr.”
He thanked the local businesses for their support again this year in placing their adverts for the magazine through the Lions Club. “The funds generated, kindly donated to us by Birr Review group, will greatly assist us in funding our yearly charity activities and help the Lions Club stay true to our motto 'caring for people, striving to help the youth, the aged and the under privileged, with the general aim of improving our community'.”
Shane spoke of his pride of Birr and how fortunate its residents are to live in such a beautiful and heritage-rich town.
He said part of the Christmas routine for some residents “is buying a copy of Birr Review, reading it in your favourite chair, and going out to buy more copies for your family and friends!”
He referred to the great excitement and energy in Emmet Square and on Main Street for the Santa Train and the switching on of the lights. “Feeling the festive and happy atmosphere here in Dooly's and out in the centre of the town it feels like the Christmas season has started in the town.”
“On behalf of Birr Lions Club I would like to wish one and all a very happy Christmas and a joyous New Year. Happy reading.”
Richard Kennedy thanked Shane for his kind words. He said this annual Report of our town and environs is “a meeting place for the present, the past and the future. It is a capturing of the lives of the people of Birr at a moment in time. It is an annual showcase for every Club and Society in our area. It has become so much a part of the town that the build up to Christmas would seem desolate without it.
“Behind it all are the members of Birr Review who make this publication a success story. They are an inspiration, a small group who consistently, year after year, achieve something close to perfection. They are an example of what can be achieved when people take the step of being involved in their community.
“A very special thanks to Karen O'Grady for taking on the task of designing and compiling the magazine. Karen was a new member this year and she undertook a huge task. She has done a wonderful job. The magazine looks really great and has been expertly designed.
“A special acknowledgement goes to Camillus King for undertaking the school photographs, and Paul Barber for providing the beautiful cover photograph.” He said Paul is a wonderful photographer who has been supplying the cover photograph for the magazine for several years. “Paul has that essential skill which all great photographers have, in that he can spot beauty and interest whereas the rest of us would just walk on by, without any regard.
“We are also grateful for the assistance given by Fox's Pharmacy and in particular Catherine for scanning photographs for this year's publication.”
He said preparing the Review is a daunting task. “When people join the committee they quickly realise how much work is involved. We start about mid March, slowly building up material over the weeks and months. And then in October the work level significantly increases. After all that hard work this is the nice part when we have the finished product in our hands.” Joking, he pointed out that there had been some discussions among members of the committee about grammatical issues such as the proper use of the comma, the proper use of the apostrophe and the overuse of the exclamation mark. “The overuse of the exclamation mark and the misuse of the apostrophe are like the Japanese Knotweed of English Grammar.”
Tony Hogan concluded the evening's proceedings by calling the magazine a pièce de résistance, adding that it will be available in a number of outlets locally.
The other members of the Review committee include: Brian Kennedy, John Molloy, Anne O'Callaghan Rowan, Joe Keane, Denis Sheils, Garech Doorley, Mick Coghlan, Fred Boulton, Janine Wilson, Brian Hogan and Michael Donegan.