This week, Roscommon People reporter Dan Dooner spoke with Peter Daly, the man behind the very popular Facebook page ‘Ballygar Banter’ on the importance of recording daily life and major events in the town…
Peter, when was the ‘Ballygar Banter’ page established and just how popular has it become?
I started it around 2012. It started life under my own name before I renamed it Ballygar Banter. At the moment we have 7,500 followers worldwide and plenty of interaction from all over the world.
What inspired you to start chronicling everyday life here?
There was a real downturn in the economy in the ‘80s and a lot of my contemporaries emigrated to the UK and to America and so on. One guy came home after about 20 years and I remember meeting him in Tierney’s as it was at the time for a pint. We were talking about the old times and school days and all that kind of stuff. He was married with kids abroad so couldn’t come back to Ballygar permanently but you could see it in his eyes that he missed the place. That was the seed of the whole thing. I thought, well if he can’t come home, we’d bring home to him.
It’s obviously a voluntary effort, but what motivates you to keep the page going?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and I love photography. It’s such a passion that I bring my camera with me everywhere I go. Because I was involved with all the different sports clubs in the area I’ve now basically become the photographer for all of them. But it’s great because it’s an excuse to get to matches! I’m still chasing that all-time great photograph…I reckon I have in excess of one million photographs filed away.
What other community events do you cover?
I cover all sorts of events. The Ballygar Carnival, for example, is probably the most obvious one because it’s such an iconic event. I just wander around the place taking photographs of the young, the old, and the amusements for the people who can’t come home for it.
So, you are telling the story of Ballygar through your photography?
Yes. For example, I love photographing the ‘iconic’ people of this community because they have important stories to tell and they are the people who will be remembered most in the short-term. For younger people, it’s 20 or 30 years later that they’ll look back and say ‘I remember being on that team’ or ‘I remember that person’. Sometimes with images it’s not how good the photograph is but the story behind it.
You were once a member of the Irish diaspora yourself. What brought you back to Ballygar?
I spent some time in London as a student but it didn’t work out the way I had hoped. I was very lucky that I got a job as a sales rep when I came home in 1988 at a time when jobs were at a premium. I was there for two years and then got into the pharmaceutical industry and I’ve been in that ever since. I always wanted to come home and I always wanted to live around Ballygar because it’s such a great village and community. We just love Ballygar.