A MAN who started his career in the Order of Malta in Tullamore returned to the town to launch a pictorial history of the local organisation, 'An Album of Memories'.
Michael Barry, whose mother had a shop in O'Connor Square and whose father worked in the bacon factory, rose through the ranks of the Order of Malta and is now its Chancellor Emeritus in Ireland.
Tullamore Order of Malta member John Thomas, who compiled the book, said Mr Barry was delighted to be back in Tullamore for the occasion, which also coincided with the 70th anniversary of the branch's establishment.
“He was the man that launched the book because he started as a cadet in Tullamore here,” said Mr Thomas. “It was great because he was here in the early stages.”
The launch, which took place in Tullamore Library on Monday evening, was also attended by William Merriman from the National Ambulance Service.
Mr Thomas said many Tullamore Order of Malta members go on to work in the ambulance service, opening up opportunities to join the voluntary organisation.
The book launch brought together many people who have been involved in the Order of Malta over many decades and as it looks to the future, insurance costs have emerged as a major problem.
Mr Thomas said the cost of public liability insurance is increasing and he fears the expense could spell the end of some local organisations.
“It's €20,000 a year to keep the whole thing on the road for us, between insurance and the three vehicles. And all our money is raised from voluntary contributions,” he said.
The Order of Malta in Tullamore has 40 members and in addition to its day to day work, it assists at some of the best attended local events, such as the Tullamore Show and the St Patrick's Day Parade.
'An Album of Memories 1949-2019' has 120 photographs tracing the history of the Tullamore unit back to its foundation. It was printed by Print Plus/Jet Print and sells for €15.