Michael McMenamin, CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin’s Development Officer is a born storyteller.
Back in the 2015 day, the then Coaching Officer regaled Gaelscéalaí Inis Eoghain with the highly entertaining circumstances that led to the club’s formation.
It all started in 1966, the year of the foot and mouth outbreak.
That evening, Michael recalled his Custom’s colleague, Sean Lynch, who had been transferred to Muff from Valentia. Sean was a brother of renowned Kerry footballer, Ger Lynch.
“Well,” said Michael, “Sean met his future wife Maranna one day when the passengers on the Derry bus disembarked to disinfect their feet. The couple settled in Muff and, in 1988, Sean was instrumental in setting up CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin.
“Thankfully, in 1997, a local businessman, Jim McLaughlin, sold Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin 12 acres of land in Ture and our nomadic existence came to an end. Through a combination of our savings and a loan, we were able to develop two pitches.
"At that time, our treasurer was Pat Keaveney, a Garda stationed in Muff. Pat's wife was from Glenties, where she would have been familiar with the idea of a club lotto. Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin subsequently became the first GAA club in Inishowen to introduce the club lotto as a means of fundraising," added Michael.
The grand opening of CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin took place on April 29, 2007, with a match between Donegal and Westmeath.
Recalling the occasion, former CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin Chairperson, Seamus McColgan, said: "There were 2,500 people there to see the National League Division One Champions play the Division Two Champions. We also achieved Donegal Club Ground of the Year in 2007.”
Describing the previous 10 years of intensive fundraising, Seamus said: "We ran three development draws in all. The initial one was to develop our first pitch and the support we got in this parish was overwhelming. I would say every house we went to took a ticket. The second was for our clubhouse and the third was for our second pitch.
"At the same time, there was a massive amount of volunteer work going into ground preparation. This was in the days before mobile phones and if anyone needed to get in touch with a member of CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin, they just drove to Ture.
"There were people there after work with tractors, shovels, and spades getting stuck in. Even people who weren't club members were helping out. It was amazing. Then Minister James McDaid was extremely impressed when he visited the site, such was the community effort," added Seamus.
Fast forward an unlucky for us all 13 years and CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin’s ground, Maurice McMenamin Memorial Park, in common with sports’ grounds nationally and internationally, is covid-19 closed.
Speaking to Inish Times, Ciaran McMenamin, Rúnaí, CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin thought everything was now going to be “pushed back to next year.”
Ciaran said: “This is really unfortunate because as a club we had a lot of aspirations for the coming year.
“We had a new senior team management group who had started off the year really well. The senior players had started off well too. We were also bringing a senior ladies team to the fore this year for the first time in the club’s history. That’s now been put on the long finger. So, there are some disappointments.
“And, of course, not having the children at the pitch is a huge hole in any club. All we are doing down there at the moment is cutting grass and maintaining the grounds.
“With the current coronavirus restrictions in place, CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin registered with Donegal County Council’s Covid-19 Community Support Helpline [1800 928 982, 9am to 9pm, seven days per week.] We are also involved in delivering meals with one of the local secondary schools. We have quite a number of volunteers helping out. All our community work being co-ordinated through our Chairperson Peter Mullan,” said Ciaran.
Peter Mullan (087 252 1441) is the club’s point of contact for community projects. The club has approximately 30 volunteers available and according to Ciaran, if more people were needed “it would be no problem. There would be no shortage of volunteers available within the club.”
Ciaran added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has very much brought to the fore the fact that the GAA is at the heart of a community and people are willing and able to assist anybody in any way, that’s the really encouraging thing.
“We are also keeping in touch with the youngsters in the club via the parent’s groups. We are sending out a certain amount of keep fit exercises, challenges. However, we have to be very mindful too that we are not bombarding children with an awful lot of material because sometimes it can be too much, a little bit overwhelming.
“We are standing off a little bit on it to be perfectly honest. The drills are available, but we are not making young people do them. With the stress of everything else, it would not be fair.
“The young people are having to contend with their homeworks, and they can get anxious. They have their own anxieties and we as a club don’t want to add to those,” said Ciaran.
CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin’s young people, are missing the social aspect of club life.
Ciaran said: “The majority of youngsters are hugely missing their friends and the interaction with their friends and I think that’s a big void in their lives at the moment.
“Plus, I think other members of the community as well as our children, our coaches, our supporters, our parents are missing the social aspect of the club too. It’s a big social thing that’s missing at the moment. There would have been a lot of interaction during the week. In a way, it is starting to bite a little bit now,” mused Ciaran.
Last year, CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin completed a major capital project at the club. The club’s lower pitch was developed, and they were planning to showcase those new facilities.
According to Ciaran, all those plans have now been put “on hold.”
Laughing he added: “But, development is always ongoing. It doesn’t stop for man nor beast nor pandemic. And neither does planning, so we have to keep thinking ahead.
“We have to get the lower pitch fenced. We also have to get ball stops up and goal posts up. That is something we are working towards getting funding for. The wheels keep turning in the background. All of those funding applications still have to be made.
“When the gates reopen, I think it will be a gradual return to the status quo. It can’t just all happen in one week. I think a slow steady exposure to Gaelic games and getting youngsters back into the routine of a training regimen is more likely.
“There shouldn’t be any great efforts put into running huge amounts of fixtures. It should just be tailored to getting back on the field, getting back into the enjoyment of Gaelic games, getting back to that feel for sport again. The rest will come, next year,” cautioned Ciaran.
Turning to CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin’s U14s, Ciaran was sorry they missed out on their Féile.
He said: “They have missed out on all of that, which is huge for them. I would like to think that the GAA would consider running two Féile’s next year and the players who were registered to go this year’s event will get the opportunity next year, albeit they will be U15. It is something not beyond the reaches of the powers that be in Croke Park to organise.
“Primarily we think about it from a Gaelic point of view but there are also the soccer and other sporting activities as well that same grouping will miss out on, the Foyle Cup and the Kennedy Cup.
“That is a huge loss for all those youngsters of that age group. Unfortunately, they are going miss out on that, but it is for the greater good, so what can we do about it?
“Muff is a great community and there are an awful lot of organisations within that community who are willing to help people. It is a good place to be in Inishowen and as a greater area, Donegal at the end of the day. It is a really good county. It is a really good community. There is always somebody willing and able to help you, regardless of what the situation is and of course it all comes with confidentiality,” said Ciaran.
Ciaran stressed that no one should be afraid to ask for help in the present circumstances.
He added: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need help, that is really important. There is someone there at the end of the phone. Contact the County Council Line and if you are uncomfortable contacting it, contact me as the Secretary of the club (0862027534) or Peter our Chairperson (0872521441). We are more than willing to help people out, in the strictest confidence. Anything that can be done will be done.
“I would also like to thank all those frontline workers that are certainly making personal sacrifices and putting themselves on the line for all of us. The community are 100 percent behind them and are really thankful for all their service, everybody that’s doing anything to keep things ticking over. And I know there are lots of people out there that will be dying to get back to their work tomorrow. If they were able to.
“I have to say, I was absolutely delighted with CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin’s Pieta fundraiser this weekend. We covered 1020 kilometres and raised €2150. The challenge was to run / walk / cycle for 24 hours.
“We started at 7.30am Saturday morning and finished at 7.30am Sunday. We filled 48 slots, ensuring that we were always moving forward. Other people also joined on top of the 48 slots during the period recording their distance and making donations. Everything was done while socially distancing and in family units. It was great to see everyone the participating during the day and see the familiar faces that we usually see in Ture,” said Ciaran.
Ciaran encouraged everyone to keep up to date with CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin through its Facebook page.
He added: “Hopefully, we will be back to the club as soon when it is safe to do so.
“Big thanks also to our Development Officer Michael McMenamin and Groundsman Matthew McAteer who have kept the club’s facilities in tip top condition.”
The beautiful aerial photograph of CLG Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin’s ground was taken by Emmett Buchanan, Estate Agent.
“We’ll have to get a knew photograph taken when the club opens again,” smiled Ciaran.
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