There has been a renewal of interest in all things local of late. The recent campaign to Go Local has highlighted the social and economic benefits of getting involved with what’s on offer in your local community, rather than using valuable time and energy to travel further afield.
So it is fitting that attention has been turning towards the Community Games of 2009, traditionally held in Mosney, Co Meath, but this year to be hosted for the first time in Athlone.
Kay O’Connell, long-time secretary and past chairperson of the Ballymahon Road Community Games, remembers the first meeting of this local branch, held in the Rugby Club in March, 1978. Since that time, the population of the Ballymahon Road area has increased considerably, but despite this, interest and participation in the Games has declined. “Over the years, children in our area have taken part in numerous activities, at local, national and even All-Ireland level. We have had outstanding results in such diverse activities as table tennis, football and art. It is a great way for children who may be virtually neighbours, but hardly know one another, to get together in the spirit of the community.”
All five of Kay’s children have competed in the Games, in one case attaining the first Gaelic All-Star. She feels that this is an ideal time for parents and children to get involved, as local children will have a chance to compete in their home town. “A strong Athlone presence this year would be very fitting,” she adds.
The Community Games run both winter and summer programmes, with different age categories for the various events. The range of events each local area enters depends partly on parental interest, to ensure coaching and supervision issues are covered.
“If there are any parents in the Ballymahon Road area who are willing to lend a hand, they are most welcome,” says Kay. “We don’t always know what talent there might be out there!” she concludes.
Anyone wishing further information about the Ballymahon Road Community Games is welcome to contact Kay on (086 ) 3685192 and come along to the registration at Athlone GAA (Pairc Ciaran ) on Wednesday, December 3 between 7 and 8pm.