TWO memorial seats, dedicated to the memories of two stalwarts who were instrumental in providing the popular all-weather pitch attached to the Sacred Heart Secondary School, were unveiled recently in the presence of families and friends.
The pitch, almost three acres in area, was opened in 2001 on the site that was once the town playground (up to around 1994) and a pitch and putt course, and provided free of charge by the Sisters of Mercy.
At the recent ceremony, James Moloney, chair of the Clonakilty Area Sports Association, welcomed all. He paid tribute to his predecessor Leo Meade and former Minister Joe Walsh, TD, a patron of the project, who both worked tirelessly for five or six years leading up to it until the all-weather pitch opened in 2001.
Leo was remembered as the dedicated and efficient chair and Joe who used his position to advise the committee on applications for grants and State assistance, which no doubt expedited the project. Both men have gone to their eternal rewards, but the legacy of their dedication and work is there for all to see with a host of local sports clubs using the floodlit pitch for training and competitions, including the GAA, soccer and hockey clubs up to 10pm nightly throughout the year, while the Sacred Heart Secondary School (SHSS) uses it for PE and games during school terms.
In 2006, tennis courts were added to the facility.
The recent ceremony was attended by Mrs Marie Walsh and Mrs Marie Meade and their immediate and extended families; Acting Town Mayor Paddy McCarthy; Minister Jim Daly, TD; Cllrs Paul Hayes and John O’Sullivan and Mons Aidan O’Driscoll, PP; Sr Eilís McGrath, former principal of the SHSS, and a large representation from the wider community.
Former county councillor and teacher at SHSS, Donal O’Rourke, a friend and colleague of the late Joe Walsh, had the honour of unveiling his memorial seat, while current board member Ted Murphy unveiled the seat in memory of Leo Meade.
James Moloney saluted Joe and Leo and all involved in the early years who, brought the idea of an all-weather, floodlit pitch for the community from a dream to a successful reality in just a few short years, thanking the National Lottery, Cork County Council, local businesses other fundraising ventures over the years.
Acting Town Mayor Paddy McCarthy thanked the Clonakilty Community Sports Association for providing the facility and lauding the fact that it is a facility for all sports groups. Sr Eilís McGrath recalled the many meetings in the early years to get the project off the ground and said that, without Leo Meade at the helm and the assistance of Joe Walsh as patron, it would have taken many more years to realise. Mons O’Driscoll, PP, blessed the two seats.
Over the years, the project and the board have not rested on their laurels and a fine clubhouse was also added, as well as tennis courts and a car park to complement the nearby sports hall attached to the SHSS. As well as being used for sports and athletics the clubhouse and the facility is a popular one for social events, especially for young people when food can be served in the clubhouse and the pitch used to work it off at birthday parties and other occasions.
There was praise too at the ceremony for the manager Mairéad O’Reilly and asst manager Jane Cowhig and the other staff members, John Keenan, Gordon Harte and Willie O’Driscoll, who all maintain the whole area immaculately for all users.