Austin Stacks elect Mairead Fernane club's first female chairperson

Mairead Fernane
Mairead Fernane

Paul Brennan

Mairead Fernane has said her strong family ties with the club convinced her to take on the role as chairperson of the Austin Stacks GAA club, despite having no intention of taking on the position ahead of last Sunday's AGM.

Ms Fernane told The Kerryman she was a little overwhelmed since Sunday but was slowly coming around to the realisation that she is the club's new chairperson - the first female to hold the position - but added that she is delighted and honoured to be elected to succeed the out-going chairperson Liam Lynch.

Ms Fernane, who served as vice-chairperson for the last two years, said it was pleasing to say she is the first women to hold the office of chairperson in the club.

"Even though it is becoming more prevalent throughout the county with more and more women taking the chair in their clubs it's still nice to say I'm the first woman to be chairperson of the Stacks club," she told The Kerryman.

"To be honest I had no intention of going for the thing on Sunday. In fact I was going in to step away from it. I had been asked by a few people over Christmas about taking over from Liam but I really didn't have any plans for it. Then at the meeting a few people held up the picture of my uncle in front of me and I felt I had no option. But I have to say I'm delighted now that I've taken on the job and I only hope I can repay those people's faith in me to do it."

The uncle she refers to is Dan O'Sullivan, who was the Stacks' first Chairperson when the club was founded back in 1917.

"I was delighted in 2017 when they asked me to do the vice-chair because I felt that was carrying on the family link from the first century to the next. All my mother's family, the O'Sullivans, were founding members of the club and Dan was the first chairman. But then my father, Gary Fernane, was the first Juvenile president of the club, so really history informed my decision, I couldn't really get away from it."

Indeed, it's fitting that Ms Fernane will lead the famed Tralee club into its second century, after the club celebrated its centenary in 2017.

"I would hope that the good coaching system we have for the juveniles would continue because without your juveniles you have no club. I'd hope the juvenile club continues to go from strength to strength and that will ensure Stacks place in the GAA into the future.

"Of course a (county) championship would be the icing on the cake, but what I'd say is that I'd hope we maintain the high standards we have in the club, on and off the field."