Josette Farrell is a Claregalway resident who is genuinely passionate about improving local facilities and making life better for residents. She is a community facilitator and Editor of Nuacht Chláir and Claregalway.info.
Since moving to Claregalway more than thirty years ago, Josette has been actively involved in a wide range of local groups and societies. While raising her six children in (a rapidly expanding) Claregalway village, she volunteered to be Chairperson of Claregalway NS Parents’ Association, giving Josette her first taste of community involvement. She oversaw the introduction of the school uniform and, with her growing family, also took part in a number of after school activities, giving her the opportunity to meet dozens more local residents.
It was during conversations with residents and friends that Josette realised that, although Claregalway’s population was rising significantly, facilities for residents in Claregalway were lacking, and decided that something needed to be done. In 1996, she established Claregalway Amenity Group with some like minded residents (pictured above). You can read more about the Amenity Group’s activities at the time in our online archive here.
The group was hugely successful, securing grants to restore three dilapidated townland pumps (one example above with Josette’s children Rachel and Niall), and erect a system of townland name stones, which can be seen at the entrance to each townland in Claregalway, as well as the Welcome to Claregalway stones on the N17 and N18. Pictured below is Seamus O’Connell, Cloonbiggen, setting the first stone in place with Fergus Madden in 1996.
While these projects were being carried out, Josette identified sites that could be developed to enhance the appearance of Claregalway village. One such site was the small plot of land adjacent to Claregalway NS (now at the entrance to Cúirt na hAbhainn), which Josette personally landscaped with other community volunteers (pictured below is Josette with Larry King, Lakeview).
Josette arranged for the erection of a memorial Famine Stone, to remember those who died locally during An Gorta Mór, on the 150th Anniversary of Black’47. Pictured below is Josette speaking at the unveiling of the Famine Stone in 1997.
This whet Josette’s appetite for local history and while speaking to long time residents, she discovered that the old bridge over the River Clare still existed, despite the course of the river being changed centuries ago. At the time, around 1996, the bridge was buried with rubble alongside the N17, but Josette and the Amenity Group began a new project to unearth the bridge, which we all recognise today as the Nine Arches. You can read about the history of the Nine Arches here.
Around this time, in August 1996, Josette formed a small committee to re-establish a monthly community newsletter—Nuacht Chláir—and has been the Editor ever since. You can view the full Nuacht Chláir archive online here. As Editor, Josette has endured the extraordinary voluntary task of compiling local news every month, arranging local sponsorship, printing and distributing the newsletter locally each month, as well as maintaining the Claregalway.info website and Facebook page. The aim of Nuacht Chláir is to inform local residents of news and events taking place in Claregalway and surrounding areas, and to provide new residents with information on the locality.
As well as undertaking large-scale local projects, Josette is very active in many smaller local groups. Josette volunteers every week in Never Too Old, the charity shop set up to fundraise for Claregalway & District Day Care Centre and works in local garden centre Horkans every weekend.
She volunteers every year at Claregalway Agricultural Show, plays Bridge and Badminton every week in the village, sings in Claregalway Church’s St James Choir, and can often be seen walking on local footpaths with members of Claregalway Walking Club.
Josette is also an avid photographer and when she’s not busy volunteering her time, she regularly takes snaps at events in the area. All of the albums on our Photos page were taken by Josette unless otherwise stated.
In 2008, a night called Oíche Buíochas was held in Claregalway to honour individuals and groups who gave their time and talents to assist in activities in the parish. Josette was awarded for the time and energy that she has given to many community activities for the betterment of residents, especially older people and children. A report at the time said “a leading campaigner for Claregalway bypass, Josette continues to display tremendous energy and drive which is at all times community focused.”