Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Giving rural communities a sporting chance

Anna May McHugh
Anna May McHugh
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

"Sport has the power to make rural Ireland great again" - this vision will be set out by rural champions Anna May McHugh, Michael Ryan, John 'Bull' Hayes, Padraig Giblin and Pat Spillane at a special conference in Tipperary.

'Building Rural Community - Lessons from Sport' will take place at Mary Immaculate College (MIC), Thurles on March 29 and speakers explore the potential of GAA and other sports to regenerate ailing areas.

Kerry GAA legend Pat Spillane - chairman of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) - will lead talks at the conference, organised by Fr Eamonn Fitzgibbon, head of pastoral studies at MIC.

Anna May McHugh, managing director of the National Ploughing Championships, will discuss the vibrancy of community business.

Tipperary's All-Ireland winning manager Michael Ryan will discuss how his native Upperchurch has fought back against rural decline and Padraig Giblin of Sportsnetting Ltd will tell how to turn a simple idea into a flourishing enterprise.

"If rural decline is going to continue at the pace of the last decade, it is going to be seriously challenging. If community goes, we have little left," said Fr Fitzgibbon.

"GAA and other clubs are keeping communities together. We have lessons to learn from that. Sporting passion has been turned into a viable business in rural areas. We will have examples of that on the night," he said.

Tickets cost just €10 and can be booked at or by contacting St Patrick's Campus at 0504-21201.

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The event commences at 7pm and concludes at 9.30pm.

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