The winners of the 2019 Monaghan Volunteer Awards were announced at an event in the Shirley Arms Hotel, Carrickmacross on the evening of Thursday 3rd October. The event was attended by close to 200 people, including the winners and their guests and also members of the public who attended to hear the guest speaker. As always, the event demonstrated the incredible work done by volunteers across County Monaghan. Of course, the winners are only a small sample of the amazing volunteers we have in Monaghan. The judges had a difficult time selecting just one winner in each category and there are hundreds more who richly deserve an award but haven't been nominated yet. 


Volunteer of the Year

Our 2019 Volunteer of the Year is Derek Duffy of Cú Chulainn Blood Bikes.  Derek was involved with the foundation of Cu Chulainn Blood Bikes in 2016 and continues to be heavily involved. The charity provides a volunteer motorcycle transport service for blood samples, patient file, x-rays and other medical items between hospitals. Derek’s role includes volunteer recruitment, fund raising, developing relationships with hospitals and other blood bike groups as well as serving as chairman and as a volunteer biker completing deliveries between hospitals on a regular basis.  Without Derek, there may be no Cu Chulainn Blood Bikes. 


Volunteer Group of the Year

Our Volunteer Group of the Year is Monaghan Arch Club.  It was founded over 30 years ago by a group of parents and friends of young people with intellectual disabilities, to provide a meeting place and social life for those young people. It currently has 133 members ranging from 17 to 70 years of age.  Likewise, the volunteers range from teenagers to the original parents who founded the club all those years ago. They come from all over County Monaghan and their commitment and hard work provide a social outlet for the members and also some time out for their families.  The club runs a variety of activities and social events and none of that would be possible without the volunteers. 


Lifetime Achievement Award 

Our Lifetime Achievement Award is to recognise someone who’s volunteering spans many years. This year it goes to Mindszenty Finnegan. You may have heard of Mindszenty Park in Castleblayney and wondered how it got its name. That story starts way back in the 1970’s when Mindszenty started to improve a piece of waste land behind his house, beside Gas Lake, Lough Muckno.  After his day’s work as a postman he would get to work filling in holes, tidying up the area and even advertising for topsoil. Over the years the area was transformed and is now a popular recreation area, used by the community for soccer, picnics and fishing. It is named in honour of Mindszenty.  He continues his volunteering with the local Tidy Towns group, which he has been involved with for over 20 years.  He also helps maintain the beautiful walkways around Lough Muckno and Black Island. He was described by the person who nominate his as “going about his business in a very ordinary, quiet way without any fuss.” We think he deserve a bit of a fuss and a great big trophy! 



Guest Speaker

Our guest speaker at the Monaghan Volunteer Awards on Thursday night was David Coleman, child psychologist, author and broadcaster. David got a great response and plenty of questions from the large crowd. He spoke on the topic of "building resilience in children", including how volunteering can help build confidence for teenagers. David is pictured here between Monaghan Integrated Development CEO Gabriel O'Connell and MID's Francis McCarron. 


It was great to meet so many people at the event and hopefully some of them will be inspired to volunteer! To find out more about how to get started please contact Sinéad Keenan or Grace Sherry at 047 72191 or  


We are very grateful to Martin van Tonder for writing this letter about his reasons for volunteering, why he enjoys it and why he thinks you should volunteer too. Martin volunteers with the Failte Isteach English conversation classes in Monaghan Town as a tutor. 

"Dear volunteer,

I’m writing this letter to you on behalf of the Volunteer Centre in Monaghan. A couple of months ago I broke my wrist in a work accident and could not do much of anything. I was very bored at home and drove my wife crazy. I started looking for something to do, to keep my mind busy and negative thoughts away. Just so you know, I am an immigrant from South Africa and have been living in Ireland for the last year and 10 months. Back home, I used to volunteer at my local church and it gave me a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Giving back to the community has always appealed to me and for this reason I contacted my local Volunteer Center in Monaghan. They were very helpful and we sat down and discussed what they had to offer and what skills I had to give. So knowing that I use to teach teenagers back home we decided that helping at the English conversation classes was the best option for me. I jumped right in!! The first Monday morning and night I went to St. Joseph Pastor Center and met all the leaders there. I sat down with a couple of teachers so they could show me the ropes. I had my first group the following week. 

Wow, what an experience it has been meeting all the people from different countries and with various heritage. From South Europe to Asia to Africa they were very keen to learn and practice their new language. It also just showed me that there are so many people in this town that just need to be heard and are craving some social interaction with people. I have noticed since I have been here that there are a lot of immigrants that spend their time in isolation, and if by doing this I give someone the courage and hope that they can have a social life outside their work place it will have made my heart jump with joy.  Truly I tell you if you have the time and are able please get into contact with your local volunteer center, as they need all the help they can get!

Kind Regards 

Martin van Tonder" 



Monaghan Volunteer Centre staff are available to meet anyone interested in volunteering at Carrickmacross Library from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm on the second Monday of each month. Drop in to find out more about volunteering and what volunteer roles are available near you. If you like, you can even register with us while you're there. 


Monaghan Volunteer Centre staff member Sinéad Keenan and local volunteer Carmel McArdle recently spoke at the National Volunteer Management Conference. The conference is an annual event organised by Volunteer Ireland and this year it took place at the Marino Institute of Education in Dublin. Speakers at the conference included Minister Séan Canney and Volunteer Ireland CEO Ms Nina Arwitz. 

Sinéad and Carmel took part in a panel discussion on the importance of finding the right match between a volunteer and a voluntary organisation. Also included in the discussion were volunteer managers from Alone and St. Francis’ Hospice. Carmel described how she visited Monaghan Volunteer Centre after she retired. She wanted to volunteer in a primary school, having volunteered in a secondary school in the past. The Volunteer Centre did not have any volunteer roles with schools available but Sinéad contacted a couple of local schools and explained Carmel’s interest and experience.  

One of the schools was interested and the principal and infant teacher met with Carmel and discussed what she could do. Within a few months of first visiting Monaghan Volunteer Centre, Carmel had started volunteering in the school. Carmel is really enjoying her volunteering and plans to continue it long term. Having an extra adult available for part of the week allows the infant teacher to do extra activities such as taking the children on nature walks. 

Asked by Amy Woods of Volunteer Ireland for advice to organisations thinking of involving volunteers, Sinéad suggested that any voluntary organisation with a volunteer role should contact their local Volunteer Centre, even if they are not sure the role will be popular. It is difficult to predict the roles that volunteers might be interested in getting involved with. The Volunteer Centre is a free service and meets a wide range of potential volunteers.  

Also at the conference were Sinéad’s colleague Grace Sherry and Marina McKenna. Marina is the coordinator of Befriending Monaghan and Helping Hands projects, both of which support older people.  Befriending Monaghan volunteers visit older people once a week to provide company and conversation. Helping Hands volunteers do small odd jobs and repairs for older people and people with disabilities. Both services are free of charge. Marina would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in using either service. You can contact Marina at 087 0656793 (Monday to Wednesday) or   or read more at MID Services for Older People

If you are interested in volunteering or finding new volunteers for your non-profit organsiation please contact Grace Sherry or Sinéad Keenan at 047 72191 or   or visit 

The Volunteer Centre, Helping Hands and Befriending Monaghan are part of the range of programmes delivered by Monaghan Integrated Development (MID) within Co Monaghan. For more information on MID visit or contact 042 9749500.