Two long-established GAA clubs in the city areas are at loggerheads over plans by one to construct a state of the art playing facilities to within a short distance of the other.
Salthill Knocknacarra GAA (SKGAA ) has announced its intention to apply for planning permission for the major development of new playing facilities on lands owned by the club in Mincloon, which is near Rahoon Newcastle’s grounds at Tonabrocky.
Speaking on behalf of the Club, SKGAA Chairperson Paddy Lynch said this is an exciting time for the club and an important milestone.
“We intend to apply for planning permission on the lands owned by the club in Mincloon for two full sized floodlit GAA pitches (1 x 4G Astro surface and 1 x Grass Surface ), a full set of dressing rooms, a 2km community walkway, a children’s playground and a car parking area which is fully in line with the zoning of the lands under the recently approved Galway City Development Plan for 2023 to 2029.”
“The Prairie and the Arus in Salthill will continue to be our main club pitch and clubhouse and we will continue to invest in these facilities in the coming years as they will form a central part of our strategy to provide facilities for our teams. “
Mr Lynch added that the Club has launched a website providing detailed information on the development of these new facilities at skgaanewfacilities.com
“We believe that our application will receive overwhelming local support for what is an essential development to cope with the current and anticipated future volume of children joining our club from both Salthill and Knocknacarra. We are asking our club members and people across the Salthill and Knocknacarra communities to register their support at skgaanewfacilities.com/sign-up ”
“In addition, the Club have also engaged, in as far as possible, with local stakeholders ahead of this announcement to also inform them of our plans such as; immediate neighbours, local GAA clubs, local soccer clubs, local schools and other local community and sporting groups.”
He said that the club will submit a planning permission application to Galway City Council in the coming weeks and looks forward to working closely with the Council to ensure that the proposed development meets all planning requirements.
However, in response to the announcement, Rahoon/Newcastle posted a statement on their social media saying that they are disappointed by the decision and intend to fully oppose the application.
‘Fight for the club’
“In recent days, we have been made aware of SKGAA’s plans to relocate to Mincloon in Rahoon. This has been met with huge disappointment and dismay by Rahoon/Newcastle GAA Club (which has being in existence for 134 years ) and our community.
“We will be strongly opposing this proposal which would see Salthill/Knocknacarra move 3km from their club in the Prairie to within just 500m of our club in Tonabrocky.
“This violates parish boundaries and the spirit of the GAA whose ethos is to promote Gaelic games and culture as a community based, volunteer led organisation which enriches lives and communities. We will fight for our club and for our community,” the club said.
In response, Paddy Lynch (SKGAA ) said that he is dismayed by the language in the Rahoon-Newcastle statement and pointed out that they had been ‘active and present’ n their traditional area but that SKGAA had not objected.
“In that context, we wish to express disappointment of the statement by the Rahoon Newcastle GAA club to oppose our plans to provide new playing facilities which is solely about providing more options to access sport in our communities. The values of our Club and indeed, of the GAA, are primarily about providing our children with the greatest access to play sport. We believe their position and statement goes completely against this ethos. We would ask them to reconsider their position and we remain open to formal dialogue with them.
“In recent years, Rahoon Newcastle GAA have been active and present in the local schools of Knocknacarra which would clearly be considered our “traditional” parish area. We have never raised objections to their club being active in our traditional area and recruiting members outside their traditional area because it is our sincere belief that all our children should be provided with the greatest number of options possible to access sport. It is in that context, that we believe the statement and position adopted by this club is most unfair.
‘Responsibility to show leadership’
“As outlined in our meeting with Rahoon Newcastle GAA, we fully respect their right as a club to object to our plans from a legal perspective but we do believe that both clubs have a responsibility to show leadership to ensure such a dispute is a respectful one and reflective of the overlap of past and present members of the club who have contributed in some cases richly to both clubs histories.
“In that context, we wish to express dismay at the language in the Rahoon Newcastle GAA statement such as “fight for our club”, as we believe that this could encourage further actions outside of what would be considered respectful and we have seen examples already online of abusive messages towards our club members. We would ask their Club to issue a message from their club to convey that such actions are unacceptable and should stop immediately and we ask you, our members, to not send retaliatory messages. It is vital that we always act in a way that is respectful and that sets a good example for our children.
Whilst we understand that the existence of this opposition against our plans may be of disappointment to our club members, we wish to assure you that we are fully committed to engaging fully with Galway City Council with a view to securing planning permission for our plans,” he added.
The need for the new facilities for SKGAA has been justified by the phenomenal growth over the past decade, particularly in their Ladies Football and Camogie codes. This growth has resulted in great success with the club’s ladies camogie and football teams both reaching All Ireland finals at Adult level last year. The numbers of juvenile girls joining the club is now exceeding the number of boys.
“In 2022, the club fielded 64 teams and launched a nursery Section for children between the ages of 4 to 6. While Salthill Knocknacarra are justifiably proud to be providing this level of service to the community, this growth has resulted in the club facilities being seriously overwhelmed. It is proving increasingly difficult to provide training and match facilities for each of the Club’s four codes (Mens and Boys Football, Ladies and Girls Football, Ladies and Girls Camogie and Mens and Boys Hurling,” the club stated.
It is believed that efforts are being made to encourage dialogue between the two clubs, with a view towards finding a solution to the need for extra pitches and facilities in the area. There are concerns though that adding thousands of cars to the narrow roads might create hazards.
In a statement, St Michael’s GAA club said a delegation from Salthill Knocknacarra met them to seek their support and an agreement not to object to the Mincloon development. They said that having heard the plans and having discussed it with their own general membership, they feel they cannot support the plan as “it is a plan to promote SKGAA, with SKGAA interests at heart.”
“SKGAA are the only gaelic club in the city that currently has control of their own ground with pitch, astro-turf, floodlights, gym and indoor hall, as well as their access to other community grounds. A new improved shared facility would level the playing field for all and we would encourage menaingful discussion with Galway GAA County Board and Galway City Council and all city GAA clubs.”
Several GAA figures locally are hopeful that the saga will inspire a debate on the provision of general sporting facilities in the city.