New Clubhouse & Community Hall
The amalgamation of Donore & Lougher to form St. Mary’s GAA club in 1969 is one of the great success stories of Meath GAA.
The club has gone from strength to strength since, both on and off the pitch, culminating now with the completion of the new Clubhouse and Community Hall. Like many other clubs at the time St Mary's used football fields provided free gratis by local farmers for playing their games, although there was always a strong ambition to own their own pitch, rather than sharing the field with a herd of cows or a flock of sheep! As the centenary of the GAA approached in 1984 there was a greater emphasis on clubs owning their own premises.
St Mary’s had to buy their land on the open market and when Jim McDonnell asked local landowner, Johnnny McDonnell, if he would sell St. Mary’s land for a football field, he said, “I certainly will”. This discussion in 1983 started the development which continues right up to this day. With the goodwill of the entire McDonnell family the field was bought and developed with its official opening and blessing in 1988. This phase cost nearly 100,000 punts, money raised locally by the Club with some small grants from Meath GAA and the Leinster Council.
After a few years with the millennium approaching the club decided on a new phase of development for the benefit of the players and members.
This consisted of:
1) Pitch improvement,
2) Floodlights, and
3) New Clubhouse.
John McBride, Sportsfield Developments, was brought in to improve the playing pitch. This was achieved through regular maintenance, including the application of 200 tons of sand every couple of years, making the pitch one of the best in the county.
Floodlights were installed in 2005 and apart from the cost of diesel and servicing the generator, the club has only ever replaced one bulb.
The next phase of the development was the Clubhouse. Endless meetings with planning authorities and the OPW ensued. Over the next five years with various designs presented, planning permission was granted in 2013. There is no doubt that without an enormous amount of voluntary work by Brian Smith, QS, Joe Gibbons, Engineer, Ronan Gibbons, Draughtsman, and our committee, this project would never have got off the ground.
After agreement had been reached with Meath Co. Council on the location and design, St. Mary’s hired Ciaran Hussey Architects to make the planning application. Ciaran and his team ensured that the building was finished to a very high standard.
Another stroke of good luck for St Mary’s was the hiring of Croft Construction as the main contractors for the project, Mick McMenamin and his son Aidan’s years of experience and knowledge ensured the project was carried out in a timely manner and within budget.
The introduction of the Sports Capital Grants, Town & Village Renewal Scheme and Meath Leader were a huge benefit to St Mary’s.
A grant of €98,000 from the Town and Village Renewal Scheme in 2018 towards the fit- out of the Community Hall and connection to the public sewer.
Other planned works include: improvements to the entrance, tarmacadam of the carpark, street lighting, perimeter walkway and construction of retaining wall at the back and side of the clubhouse. In the early years most of the monies was raised locally by sponsorship, raffles, fund raising events which seemed to be a full-time job.
One of our best fund raisers is the weekly Blotto draw every Monday night which has financed the day-to-day running costs of the club since it started 25 years ago. Well done to the ticket sellers and the “Monday night gang”, while not forgetting our loyal supporters the ticket buyers.
It is fair to say that without sponsorship and grants from many sources it would not have been possible to complete this project. St Mary’s always received great support from local business people and parishioners, parents and friends. Irish Cement gave the club €125,000 over the last twelve years which helped the club with financial planning.
Our local councillors have also been very supportive and have contributed in many ways to our success. Let’s not forget the contribution of our local TDs on their efforts to secure these grants which include Leinster Council GAA, Meath Community Grants, Indaver and Meath County Council community grant.
Some of the club’s own fund raisers included pitch side advertising, which is still on-going, lifetime membership raised over €50,000 and sports raffles, sponsorship raffles, sponsored events, donations and bingo.
There is always a welcome in St. Mary’s for new ideas and new people to ensure the club continues to improve and to maintain the facilities that are now in place. The future as always looks bright, especially with so many dedicated voluntary coaches and trainers who give so much time and energy for a job they love.
The building sub committee continue to meet regularly and report to the main committee, Pat Lenhenan, Paul Scanlon, Brian Smith, Peter Moore, Eugene McLaughlin and myself.
Long may it last! To paraphrase John B. Keane: A St. Mary’s person with an inferiority complex is someone who thinks they’re only as good as everybody else!