GAA legends centre stage at free Connacht Social Initiative celebration night

A special gala event to recognise the work of GAA Social Initiative clubs across Connacht will culminate with a draw for the representatives of lucky clubs to attend Áras an Uachtarán for an audience with President Higgins in May.

A special gala event to recognise the work of GAA Social Initiative clubs across Connacht will culminate with a draw for the representatives of lucky clubs to attend Áras an Uachtarán for an audience with President Higgins in May.

The gala event will take place in the new Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Ballyhaunis on Wednesday, May 1, from 7-9pm, with an open invitation to all GAA Social Initiative clubs in the province to attend. Representatives from any club that would like to get involved are also encouraged to come along for what promises to be a great night’s entertainment and a trip down Connacht GAA’s memory lane.

MC on the night is Tommy Moran, Connacht PRO. A renowned raconteur, the former Leitrim County Secretary of 25 years will reminisce with some of the most recognisable names in Connacht GAA over the past decades, including former GAA President Dr. Mick Loftus (Mayo), Sligo’s first All Star and 1975 Connacht winning footballer, Mickey Kearins; Leitrim legend from the 1950s and ‘60s Josie Murray; Donie Shine Snr, former Roscommon player and manager and well-known radio pundit; and Joe Connolly, Galway’s All Ireland hurling winning captain of 1980.

The GAA Social Initiative aims to use GAA clubs as a focal point for social activities for older members of our communities. It began in 2007 following an observation by then President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin of a dearth of older men attending the various functions they visited across the 32 counties. The island’s network of GAA clubs was identified as a vehicle to tackle the isolation and loneliness that can impede people from fully engaging with their communities, friends, family and neighbours.

From its starting point as a small pilot in four counties (Mayo, Fermanagh, Kerry, and Wexford), 200 clubs are now registered as GAA Social Initiative clubs, running events ranging from card nights, ceiligh houses, to trips and excursions to the GAA museum in Croke Park, the Titanic Centre in Belfast or the National Museum of Country Life in Mayo.

The St. Joseph’s Club in Roscommon will provide an insight into their successful Social Initiative club, including their recent trip to Belfast. Other contributors on the night will include Colin Regan, GAA Social Initiative Manager in Croke Park, and Professor Sabina Brennan from Trinity College, who heads up a positive aging project. Entertainment on the night will be provided by Connacht Scór. All are welcome.

As already mentioned, all Social Initiative clubs that attend on the night will be entered into a special draw to win three coveted places on visit to Arás an Uachatarin in May. President Higgins is a noted supporter of the GAA Social Initiative and gave his full endorsement to its work in his wonderful address to GAA Congress 2013 in Derry in March. He is hosting representatives of GAA Social Initiative clubs in Arás an Uachtarán on Thursday, May 30.

Numbers are limited and will be allocated by a draw on the night.

Admission to the event is free and light refreshments will also be served. Anyone who would like more information about the event should contact their County Coordinator, or alternatively contact Emmet Haughian, the Social Initiative National Coordinator in Croke Park on 01-819-2393 or emmet.haughian@gaa.ie.