Tributes pour in for Gerry, the ‘ambassador’ of Ballyfermot

By Maurice Garvey

TRIBUTES have poured in for the ‘Ambassador’ of Ballyfermot, Gerry Royal, who died on September 12, just six weeks after the passing of his wife Mary.

Mr Royal was manager of Ballyfermot Community Association right to the end, and championed many positive outlets for the community over the last 40 years.

w pg 16 Gerry Royal

The late Gerry Royal had a passion for writing plays

Henry Harding praised his close friend Gerry for “ceaselessly fighting for the people of Ballyfermot.”

“Originally from the Liberties, he settled in Ballyfermot with his wife Mary, and lost no time in getting involved in community activism,” said Henry.

“He was involved in the Ballyfermot Theatre Workshop, which he formed to provide an outlet for community drama, and then to provide, through a CE scheme, training for those dealing with addiction issues. In order to be better able to understand the issues, Gerry obtained training as an addiction counsellor and also assisted other CE projects in the community to get started, serving on the boards of many, including the Markievicz Centre.”

Henry said Gerry constantly engaged with Dublin City Council, Ministers, and agencies alike in order to improve the area.

“Gerry had a big heart, and was always available to meet local groups and individuals seeking to better their community. He was very wise, and would spend hours researching and planning an approach that would benefit the community.”

Mr Royal had a passion for writing plays and radio dramas, and is fondly remembered for his lead role in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ which played in the Community Civic Centre.

Henry continued: “He was central in negotiating the demolishing of the old, pre-fab, community centre, and the building of the new Ballyfermot Community Civic Centre on the site of the old centre.

"He served right up the end as company secretary of the company charged with looking after that building.”

When the new drama group complained about shortcomings in the building, Mr Royal called in experts to draw up a plan for refurbishment – presenting a plan to the Department of the Arts for grant aid of €500,000.

Henry continued: “The department initially told him that as the building was brand new it may not fund it. Gerry having studied the details of the grant programme the day before pointed out to the offices the clauses that would allow them to proceed, and the grant application was accepted.

“This was just one of many examples of Gerry’s attention to detail and focus on bringing benefit to the community. He was an inspiration and pleasure to work with.

"He will be sadly missed, mostly by his family, by those he worked with and by the entire community of Ballyfermot.”

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