Cash injection boost in number of areas
HANDBALL was last played in the parish of Glenbrien during the early 1970s.
But an allocation of €80,000 will ensure that the sport returns sooner rather than later.
The obscure rural alleys in the townlands of Cooraun and Cooladine are long since abandoned, remembered only by older members of the local community.
However, the more recently established Glenbrien handball club has been crusading for a modern revival, with chairman Seamus Heffernan and treasurer John Mernagh among those to the fore.
'This is absolutely brilliant,' was Seamus's response after the announcement of the grant was made last week. He was genuinely fearful that their application would be overlooked completely. Instead he found himself smiling with a blend of relief and anticipation.
He joked that he was literally dancing a jig of delight at the news. He is in training for an appearance on a 'celebrity jigs 'n reels' night in Enniscorthy at the end of next month.
The fundraising dance is just part of the long running campaign which has been going on to pull in enough money to develop a modern handball venue at the old schoolhouse where a site has been earmarked for the project. For instance, years of gathering and selling firewood with the backing of community minded volunteers has contributed €10,000 to the club coffers. Each sack of timber represents plenty of hard work.
Other activities undertaken to give a helping hand to handball have included table quizzes, concerts and field days, all contributing small beer compared to the largesse now flowing from the coffers of the Department of Sport.
The chairman confirmed that he expects construction work will begin before the end of September. He confirmed that the grant ensures Glenbrien HC will not be saddled with an impossible debt, as was feared by those who were committed to the ambitious project designed to breathe extra life into a small rural half-parish.
'There were times when I said we would be fundraising for the rest of my life. I am over the moon,' admitted Seamus Heffernan candidly, a major burden lifted from his shoulders. 'It's the best news I got in a long time.
'This alley will be as good as the one in Croke Park, with plans drawn up by Fintan Doyle.' The new facility will have a top class floor and an up-to-date heating system to complete the contrast with the deserted outdoor arenas of bygone times.
The old alley in Cooraun, near Edermine, has been demolished altogether while the wall of the one beside the bridge in Edermine has sunk into unrecognisable obscurity.
Stand by for a joyful resuscitation.
HILLBROOK TENNIS CLUB
The €100,000 prescribed by the sports grant scheme to Hillbrook tennis club in Enniscorthy will be a cure for an uncommon cold.
The clubhouse at the HLTC complex at the top of Munster Hill was built by the members back in the 1950s.
Half a century on, with its dilapidated doors and un-insulated walls, the building is a far cry from the plushness of Wimbledon.
'We are delighted,' was reaction of veteran club chairman John Dempsey when the news broke of the sports grant.
'We will do a proper job on the pavilion, so that it can be used all year reound.'
He spoke of toilets that need to be made accessible to people with disabilities and pipes which burst at time of frost.
Originally built with badminton in mind, it is now used very occasionally for table tennis.
However, though the courts outside are in demand all through the year, the building is largely abandoned during the colder months.
'It is a big empty space,' comments John Dempsey, 'and it is freezing in winter.'
Now architect Malcolm Pim has drawn up plans which would bring the structure up to modern standards of comfort.
And the lofty space of the disused badminton court may disappear with the installation of a second floor overhead.
Also promoted from Hillbrook wish list to the to do list as a result of the Government's generosity is the relaying of the artificial grass court originally put down in 1994 and long due an overhaul.
SHAMROCKS GAA CLUB
The Shamrocks GAA club has been in existence since 1981 and played on borrowed land for several seasons.
Then they acquired land from Paddy Bolger nestled close under the historic summit of Vinegar Hill.
The transformation the property, which has become Father Murphy Park, from heavily sloped field to modern sport complex been gradual.
Now the latest slice of National Lottery funding, to the tune of €100,000 will allow another major step forward.
The money will allow floodlighting of the lower pitch, which receives heavy punishment as the main training area.
And the grant will stretch to making the grounds more accessible to those with physical disabilities, as well as more secure against trespassers.
'It's great. We are delighted. We need it all,' said club chairman John Hendrick happily after news of the six-figure allocation broke.
He gave the lion's share of the credit for the success of the application to Shamrocks secretary Aoife O'Connor.
She was the one who made sure that the documents submitted, complete with evidence of planning permission and architectural reports, made it very difficult for the civil servants to say no.
'Aoife did a fantastic amount of work on it,' reported chairman John gratefully.
He recalled that some members of the club thought she was in dreamland when she shared her vision of what Father Murphy Park could look like.
Last week's announcement ensured that the dream of the hard working secretary is now close to reality.