A crowd of some 500 people from Kilkenny turned out to catch a glimpse of President Mary McAleese during her visit to Inistioge this week.
On what will likely be her last visit to the county in her official role, President McAleese was visiting Inistioge to celebrate the Cois Abhann Centre, a facility which took almost two decades to develop. The centre is the first combined GAA club and community centre in Ireland.
Hurling was very much the topic of the day, as the Rower’s own Sean Cummins presented the President with a hurl made by Inistioge man Tim Kelly.
“I’ll use it for a puck around in the front garden in Roscommon in a few months time,” said President McAleese.
Jack Lyng, chairman of Rower Inistioge GAA Club, said President McAleese had been a fortunate talisman for Kilkenny hurling over two consecutive terms of office.
“During her 14 years in office, Kilkenny have made it to 12 All-Ireland finals,” he said. “A remarkable team and a remarkable President.”
Having been present in Croke Park for Kilkenny’s All-Ireland win a fortnight ago, President McAleese was re-acquainted with the Liam McCarthy Cup in the home dressing room of the centre. Following her tour of the new facility, the President called Kilkenny’s run of hurling victories a “remarkable psychological phenomenon”.
“[Kilkenny] were as hungry as any team, and more, to bring the Liam McCarthy Cup home,” she said.
“No complacency here — just hunger and ambition to be the best and now you have the best of facilities.”
Comprising a gym, a number of offices and meeting rooms, and a number of ground floor changing rooms, the Cois Abhann centre will be used by the Rower-Inistioge hurling club, as well as the rest of the community. There is also a kitchen, a bar, and a large function room.