Members of Dungiven Comhaltas and the wider Dungiven community have paid tribute to the well known and much respected Mena Boyle, who sadly passed away last week after an illness.
Mena, 52, had played a key role in regenerating traditional music and culture in Dungiven over the past decade and was widely known for her passion for music and culture, and contributing to her local community. Such attributes have been commented on by friends and acquaintances, while her dedication to her volunteer work “went well beyond what anyone could have asked of her”.
“The strong team of workers that Mena recruited each time she had undertaken a fleadh or other event were inspired by her vision, energy and determination to succeed, which then naturally rubbed off on them,” said a spokesperson from the Dungiven Comhaltas branch.
“Mena’s team remember with fondness long nights during the spring sitting around her kitchen table, sifting through a heavy fleadh agenda that dealt with onerous tasks such as the collection of sponsorship and the filling out of funding forms.
Her skills of persuasion knew no bounds, so that within the space of what was often a three or four hour meeting, each and every person would have left Mena’s home with not only a full stomach (her hospitality was exceptional as well), but a full schedule of fleadh work for the incoming week, leaving them to rearrange their own personal and professional diaries.
“And this was something they always did, because Mena’s own enthusiasm and commitment was contagious, and no one would dare to let her down.”
The branch said the youth generation within Comhaltas “commend her for giving them the chance to prove themselves at that awkward age before adulthood”.
“Whilst for the most part they would still have been treated as children, Mena had them sitting in meetings and giving them responsibilities for organising their own workshops and concerts,” said the branch.
“Indeed, an often quoted line of Mena’s was ‘age is a myth’, insisting that at any given time a person had the capacity to feel 17 or 77, something determined by their attitude and approach to life.
“She herself would not let age be a hinderance, and during a break from Comhaltas work, Mena raised money for a trip to Africa with the Niall Mellon Township Trust in 2009 and spent ten days labouring for charity.”
Mena, who was chairperson of Dungiven Comhaltas and a mother of two, had been diagnosed in October 2010 and suffered a long battle, undergoing chemotherapy throughout the time that her branch undertook the responsibility of hosting Fleadh Uladh 2011.
“At this point, her committee stepped up to the mark to make sure that they could deliver the fleadh to the high standards that they knew she expected.
“The weekend finally came, and after months of hard work and preparation, everything seemed to fall into place (and not without the help of Mena, who contributed to the effort, despite her sickness),” said the branch.
“The weather was perfect for the weekend, and with Mena in top form in between chemo treatments, she was able to step back and enjoy fully the fruits of her efforts for Dungiven Comhaltas branch.
“There is no doubt that Mena Boyle has made a lasting impact on music, culture and community spirit in Dungiven town. The fleadh committee for 2012 is down one body in attendance at their meetings, but Mena’s presence is still felt, and they are positive that she will be there this July to guide them and ensure that they succeed again in bringing a weekend of enjoyment and fond memories in Dungiven.”