It is rare but wonderful when a person you might only meet once leaves a positive long-lasting impression. Their sense of interest in every single person is infectious and their genuity provides a sense of trust and comfort – cue the legendary Eileen.
Eileen Hayes is a household name not only in Laois, but around the country.
Her dedication, passion, leadership and knowledge are admirable especially to Portlaoise Athletics Club, which she and her husband, Gus, founded.
The Athletics Club made a surprise presentation to Eileen on Friday night in the Killeshin Hotel to show their appreciation for all she has done for the club over the years.
They came from all over Laois for the night as the athletics community of all ages came together to show their appreciation. The night was a surprise for Eileen and the standing ovation she received showed the esteem she is held in.
They presented her with two framed singlets – one for Portlaoise Athletics Club and one for North Laois, an amalgamation of Portlaoise, Ballyroan and Ballyfin.
Eileen is a proud Cork woman hailing from Midleton. In her late teens she moved to Portlaoise to work and it was there she met Gus.
The two married and became the founders of Portlaoise Athletics Club and local legends and in true Eileen style, red and white became the colours of the club – the pride of Cork shone through.
Portlaoise Athletics Club member, Ursula O’Malley hit the nail on the head describing Eileen.
She said: “She is involved in Portlaoise, Laois, Leinster and nationally. She is always waiting at the finish line.
“She is as interested in the last over the line as the first over the line.”
Eileen has a great presence wherever she goes. She has medals left right and centre and was a natural talent. She has passed on her traits to both her children and her grandchildren who also have had and still have the sporting talent genes.
Eileen also played a big role in Portlaoise Basketball club over the years. She was the first face you’d see when you walk into the hall and everyone is always welcomed with a smile.
She is one of the first people that spring to mind when I think back on being reared in the basketball court and many will agree.
She is simply a legend and held in high regard in clubs all across the country.
There is only one Eileen Hayes.
Our photographer Julie Anne Miller was on hand to capture a selection of photographs.