Clare woman named National Community Hero 2018

Clare woman named National Community Hero 2018


Nina Arwitz, CEO, Volunteer Ireland, Mary Fitzgerald and Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive of The Wheel.

Mary Fitzgerald, a local woman from Ballymacahill, Co. Clare, who set up ground-breaking services for victims of domestic violence, was this week named as the winner of the 2018 Community Hero Award at The Wheel’s Charity Impact Awards in Dublin.

The Community Hero Award is a lifetime achievement award honouring a person who has made an extraordinary contribution to a good cause over the course of their lives. Mary was one of ten volunteers nominated for this prestigious award.

Mary has been volunteering for over 35 years with various causes in Co. Clare and as far afield as India. In the early 90s, she became aware of the plight of women and children fleeing from domestic abuse who, because of a lack of local support services, were often staying overnight in local Garda stations. She took some of these women and children into her own home and, in 1993, she established Clare Haven Services to provide refuge to families fleeing abuse in Co. Clare.

Today Clare Haven Services is a leading provider of services for the victims of domestic abuse in Co. Clare. Mary also established Haven Horizons, a national charity that works to break the cycle of domestic abuse through international best practice and evidence-based prevention models.

Mary was presented with the honour at the Charity Impact Awards ceremony, hosted at the Mansion House in Dublin. The Wheel, the national association of charities, community and voluntary organisations and social enterprises, established these awards to celebrate the positive impact made in our communities by Ireland’s 29,000 non-profit organisations.

Commenting on Mary’s achievement, Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive of The Wheel, said, “Though their work, people like Mary enrich and improve our communities, and the charities they supportmake a difference to millions of lives, both here and across the world. The aim of the Charity Impact Awards is to recognise and showcase this important contribution.”

One hundred and four non-profit organisations and volunteers were nominated for the Charity Impact Awards and over 19,000 people voted for their favourite nominees. The stories of all the nominees are available at

Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.