In 1975 when the inaugural All Saints committee approached local parish authorities for the use of their land at Hugomont off the Cushendall Road little did they know of the legacy they would be creating. To say the pitch (currently the site of St. Brigid’s PS) provided a challenging playing environment would be an understatement indeed but nonetheless the memories of a sloping surface, waterlogged games gone by and changing in tin huts have morphed into those of nostalgic reminiscence.
Parish sports days, famous victories and an atmospheric arena surrounded by tall oak trees are now the abiding memories of the clubs 1st home.
Relocation to the current club grounds on the Woodside Road in the mid 80’s signalled the final whistle on activity at Hugomont and for many younger club members even the name of the former pitch would mean little.
With that in mind the present club committee recently decided to keep the Hugomont name and link alive.
So, while the town field has long ceased to be the club’s home, the pitch name has been brought back to the fore as the new Hugomont Suite at the All Saints club rooms was officially opened at the weekend.
Following a decision taken some 18 months ago a call went out to the club membership for tradesmen and volunteers to provide their skills and services to complete a total renovation of the club function room. The venue, unrecognisable from its former self, now provides a new community hub for club members and the wider parish community.
Club President, Fr. Paddy Delargy, performed the official re-opening and blessing on Saturday morning while the undoubted highlight of the morning was the unveiling of a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion by Mr Denis Martin. Denis is one of a small group of members who were present at the inaugural club meeting organised by Fr. Fergus Jordan in 1975 to establish GAA in the town of Ballymena. As well as being a founder member of the club Denis has a link to the revamped building as he was one of several club members who built it using their voluntary labour after securing a £50k grant to cover the materials required. Club stalwarts Joe Casey and Brian McCambridge were also present at the ceremony having also contributed to both the original build and the renovation.
Led by renovation project manager Hector Cassley a small and dedicated team of club members and friends gave of their time voluntarily during lockdown with many long evenings and weekends spent on the tools. Everything from the new plumbing and heating systems through to the electrical and joinery work required was provided by donated time with the adopted motto of creating a club facility;
“by the members – for the members”
very much to the fore.
Club Chairman Jim Brady welcomed Paul Molloy and Alec McQuillan (Antrim County Executive), Jim McGrath (South West Chairman) and a range of local voluntary groups on behalf of the All Saints membership. Those in attendance were also treated to an exhibition of Irish dancing by the local Geraldine Donnelly dancing school.