|L to R Fearghal Eastwood (St Paul's GAC Secretary), |
Mayor Muir, GAA Commentator Jarlath Burns and
Michael Monaghan (St Paul's GAC Chairperson)
I recently recorded another milestone in my role as First Citizen of North Down, attending St Paul's Gaelic Athletic Club's Annual Dinner and Awards Night, talking in Irish about my pride to have St Paul's Gaelic Athletic Club within the North Down Borough.
North Down has a long history of supporting Gaelic Football, with St Paul's - based in Holywood - founded in 1979, but my visit on Saturday November 16, marked what I understand to be the first time a Mayor has attended the club's official Annual Awards Ceremony.
Crediting St Paul's as a 'significant milestone' in the development of Gaelic Football across North Down and Ards, I used the Awards Night as an opportunity to pay tribute to the commitment of the many dedicated volunteers working hard to keep the club going.
I was honoured to attend St Paul's Gaelic Athletic Club Annual Dinner and Awards Night and to show my support for the sport at a local level I presented the club with a special gift.
The success of this club would not be possible without the many dedicated volunteers, working day and night to keep the clubs going, or the role of players, whether young or old, and I want to commend St Paul's as a positive beacon of hope and positivity within the Borough.
Gaelic sport plays a large part in our society and as we work together as one to build a truly shared inclusive society it is important to celebrate our diverse culture and sporting achievements. I am determined to make a positive difference, reaching out and including all sections of our society.
As part of this drive I will be delighted to welcome the Under 16 Gaelic Football team to the Town Hall early next year to celebrate their fantastic achievement, recently winning Down Division 2 title.
My speech delivered at the Awards Night is provided below
Ladies and Gentlemen thank you for the invite to attend and speak at tonight’s dinner.
As Mayor of North Down I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to engage with St Paul’s Gaelic Athletic Club and celebrate your many achievements to date.
Whilst I cannot play Gaelic Football or Hurling I enjoy the sport and enjoy my annual visit to Newry to watch the Down County Final won again this year by Kilcoo.
Tá mé an-bhródúil go bhfuil Club Naomh Pól de Chumann Luthchleas Gael i gceantar Dhún Thuaidh.
I am extremely proud to have St Paul's Gaelic Athletic Club within the North Down Borough.
Dating back to 1927 when the first Gaelic Athletic Club was established in Holywood, North Down has a rich history of participating in Gaelic sports with foundation of St. Paul’s Gaelic Football Club in 1979 a significant milestone in the development of the sport across the North Down and Ards area following the amalgamation of the Holywood, Bangor and Newtownards clubs.
34 years later you have much to be proud of whether it be money raised to allow development of the grounds named after the late Patrick Mac Namee or the many sporting achievements, most recently the Down Under 16 Division 2 Title.
As someone who often runs 10k road races across Ireland I am proud of the strong part Gaelic Athletic Clubs within their communities when I often take part in races organised by the clubs.
Whilst the GAA passed on the task of promoting athletics to the National Athletic and Cycling Association in 1922 the organisation still plays a valuable role facilitating and promoting road races North and South.
Whether it be at Darragh Cross, Dunshaughlin, Castlewellan, Saul, Leitrim or Kilclief the hospitality, professionalism and warm welcome before and after the race is simply amazing.
The success of Gaelic Athletic Clubs would not however be possible without the unstinting commitment of the many dedicated volunteers working day and night to keep the clubs going, whether by training players, keeping the grounds up to standard or managing the money we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the men and women who ensure that the GAA not merely survives but thrives in the many towns, cities and small villages across the Island of Ireland and beyond.
As an amateur sporting organisation the role of your players, whether young or old is of paramount importance. To see them out training and playing at your grounds in Holywood adds vitality to the sporting mix of the town known globally for it’s sporting achievement by Holywood boy Rory McIlroy who lived nearby Mac Namee Park for many years.
Whether it be due to the players, volunteers, development work or the cultural heritage delivered St Paul’s Gaelic Athletic Club is a positive beacon of hope and positivity within a Borough seeking to move forward together.
When elected earlier this year I set out to achieve three key objectives under the banner Working as One. Whether it be promoting good Community Relations, active living or economic growth I am determined to make a positive difference reaching out and including all sections of our society, leading by example and delivering a legacy for everyone.
It will therefore give me great pleasure to welcome the Under 16 Gaelic Football team to the Town Hall early next year to celebrate their fantastic achievements.
I wish the Under 16s and everyone associated with the club well in your future sporting or development endeavours and will do everything I can to promote, celebrate and include St Paul’s Gaelic Athletic Club within the general life of North Down.