00:00 Saturday 25 July 2009  Written by John Bohane

Castlehaven GAA Club to celebrate its 70th anniversary with weekend festival

Castlehaven GAA Club are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of their famed club with a special weekend of GAA Festival events planned for the August Bank Holiday weekend.

To coincide with this momentous occasion in their illustrious club's glorious history, Castlehaven GAA Club have embarked upon and organised an action packed weekend of activities which is sure to draw large crowds to the idyllic picturesque regions of Castletownshend and Union Hall over the Bank Holiday weekend. This unique cultural festival which encompasses all things traditional and Irish also incorporates the Maritime Week into their weekend festivities. The idea for this GAA festival first arose out of the successful hosting of the La na gClub Day held on May 10, to mark the 125th anniversary of the GAA when locals suggested a similar theme be established by the GAA club to celebrate their own milestone celebrations. A hard working committee set to work immediately with the aim of establishing a family orientated weekend of activities and celebrations in recognition of the outstanding achievements of Castlehaven GAA Club which has served the local community so well throughout its history.

The festival gets underway on Friday, July 31, with the official opening of the Castletownshend Maritime Festival due to be performed by Cork ladies' footballer' Nollaig Cleary, (four times All-Ireland winner) opening proceedings at 8pm. The victorious under-12 South West champions who performed with so much flair and distinction during this year's campaign will lead the parade through the village of Castletownshend to signal the official opening of the Castlehaven GAA Festival and Maritime Week. This night promises to be a real family fun-filled occasion with fancy dress, Beat on the Street, best dressed dogs' competition, face painting all taking place on the opening night with music being provided by the soothing sounds of the St. Fachtna's Silver Band. A Trad session will follow in Lill's Bar at 10pm.

On Saturday, August 1, an historic exhibition for all GAA fans and historians alike will take place in the Community Centre in the Black Field, Union Hall from 11am to 6pm. This includes a unique insight into the club's history over the last 70 years and includes photographs, newspaper clippings, scrap books, old boots, jerseys etc. Also on display will be an array of medals won by the players who have worn the famed blue and white jersey down through the years. These include medals garnered in the District Leagues, junior B, junior A, intermediate, senior county, Munster Senior Club medals, and various medals won by Castlehaven players whilst representing Cork, Munster and their colleges down through the years. All the trophies on display on the day have been won by local men and ladies from Castlehaven.

Also present on the day will be the Sam Maguire Cup which will be displayed by Cuthbert Donnelly, a full time employee of the Tyrone County Board who showcases the All-Ireland trophy at numerous events throughout the year. The latest batch of under-age players coming through the famed Castlehaven conveyor belt of talent will get a chance to demonstrate their undoubted talents when the minor footballers take on a visiting team at 5pm in Moneyvolihane. This presents the minor team with an ideal competitive match as they continue their intense preparations for the third round of the county minor football championship. A real light hearted and novelty affair is scheduled to take place at Castlehaven Creamery at 7pm that evening with a bowling tournament involving five All-Ireland medal winners from the club and local 'King of the Road' Billy White. As the evening progresses there is plenty of music on offer in Nolan's Bar, Moloney's Bar and Skibbereen Eagle to entertain the expected large crowd.

On Sunday, August 2, the annual Maritime Service gets underway at 9.30am at St. Barrahanes Church, whilst at 11.30am the annual Maritime Mass will be held in Castlehaven. A football blitz for the under-8s, under-10s, under-12s and under-14 players and a children's sports event will take place in the Black Field in the afternoon which precedes a monster barbecue which is scheduled to start at 6pm.

The barbecue promises to be a magical occasion for everybody associated with Castlehaven GAA Club with every player who has ever played for Castlehaven over the past 70 years, scheduled to be reacquainted with former colleagues, neighbours and old friends as they meet up and reflect upon the great times, victories and achievements of their club through the years in what promises to be a truly historic occasion laced with nostalgic and bittersweet moments.

The men and women who had the foresight and vision of founding Castlehaven GAA Club in 1939 can be proud that the flame of the GAA still flickers as strong today and the sense of community and sporting excellence still thrives in Castlehaven and they can rest assured that the club under its current stewardship is well poised to embark upon and inspire future generations to continue their rich legacy of another 70 years of unprecedented success.

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