Wolfe Tones GAC – based in the parish of Greencastle, which straddles both Belfast & Newtownabbey – was founded in 1935 as an outlet for Gaelic games in the local area. The club played Gaelic football, hurling & camogie for 35 years. In the early 70s the club was dealt a mortal blow when the club ground on the Whitewell Road was sold off by the local Church to make way for the new M2. In the period after this the club collapsed & folded as it bounced from pillar to post attempting to find a new home.
A number of decades have passed without any provision for Gaelic games within the Greencastle area. Young Gaels travelled far & wide to kick a ball or have a puc about and local residents long bemoaned having no local club to get behind.
At the end of October 2019 a small number of young people from the wider Greencastle area got together in the upstairs room of the Fountain Bar and discussed the feasibility of re-forming the Wolfe Tones. The discussion, which went on for a number of hours, revolved around the practicalities involved, enlisting local support and canvassing the views of the entire community. After a number of weeks discussing the prospect with local people & receiving a very positive response, a steering committee was formed tasked with the club’s revival.
Immediately the steering committee implemented a strong and robust off-field structure to underpin the new venture. It adopted the mantra of sustainability and planned for the long-term future of the GAA in Greencastle before a ball was kicked. Individuals with a wide range of skills were recruited to build the wider club and put down the foundations of the house, so to speak. After this an advert was put out for players for a senior men’s football team and over 40 were recruited in the following months.
The committee made their intentions about affiliation known to the Antrim Board and put forward a proposal to the South Antrim Board to enter the South Antrim League for the 2020 season. Both proposals were accepted and the Greencastle Wolfe Tones, once again, became an official club affiliated to the Antrim County Board and the GAA.
In the meantime, the committee have been working on an action plan that will ensure that the club is sustainable, viable and in a position to carry local Gaelic games into the distant future. Financial plans have been put in place and the club have begun to work with the Ulster GAA Council to draw up a club development plan to govern the next three years. This is due to be completed in late 2020. The club have also collaborated and worked alongside Gaelfast to put juvenile team plans into place. A plan to build solid relationships with the local schools has been developed alongside the process of bringing various codes to the children of Greencastle – starting with an u6, u8 & u10 sides. Starting with these young children offers the opportunity for them to develop a love for Gaelic games, whilst a fun and well-resourced coaching programme, delivered by passionate and vetted coaches will secure the future of Gaelic games in Greencastle for generations to come. More recently the Wolfe Tones have secured former All Saints, St Johns and Antrim footballer Enda McAtamney as manager for the forthcoming season and all are looking forward to bringing Gaelic Games back to Greencastle after an absence of half a century.