During the lock down of 2021, Gavin Curran our chairperson engaged in discussion about forming hurling down the Antrim Road in North Belfast. Due to lock down it was impossible to recruit youth members so an adult team was looked at with a massive response. The mens’ team was named Henry Joys after local united Irishman and hero Henry Joy McCracken. On hearing of the formation Caitriona Ligget became involved and discussed using the same format to look at forming the Camogie section of the club, this was agreed to be called Mary Anns, the sister and local hero in her own right due to being a social activist and campaigner for the people, the female squad had an even bigger response than the men. With the adding on of female section our name naturally evolved to Henry Joy & Mary Anns Hurling & Camogie club. Our colours representative of local St Malachys College & Fortwilliam Dominican college, whilst our alternative colours will represent the old St Patrick’s college now Blessed Trinity College.
Once out on to the pitch post lock down there was 45 females and 30 males, in what looked like an Army at Mallusk playing fields. This has lead on to us forming a youth section with 50 under age players and growing. We now base all training in our home stomping ground of Newington, New Lodge & Carrickhill. We have moved to start community initiatives such as walk & talk a simple walk around North Belfast’s heart the waterworks, giving those who are maybe struggling mentally or simply looking company come along for a walk and coffee with our members including our brilliant health & wellbeing committee. We too are starting Irish language classes for our members and organising cultural events such as Cinema nights. This is only the beginning.
This weekend we have decided to launch the club officially and try to get the word out to the area which we hope can bring more people into the GAA community, we start our weekend with both of our senior teams playing Loch More Dal gCais in St Malachys College pitch and then followed on with some refreshments in St Malachys old boys club.
On Saturday we start the morning at 11am with an internal hurling blitz between our senior hurlers then at 12pm our senior Camogs will have their internal blitz, after this we have our 6-sided tournament with our juvenile teams to allow them to get the feeling of playing in a match, after this we have provided a fun day for all the family to enjoy with a BBQ, facepainting and a bouncy castle in Carrick Hill community centre and there will be a surprise guest player attending to speak for us. After our fun day is over we are heading to McLaughlin’s Bar for a live folk band and some light refreshments.
Finally, we end our launch weekend on Sunday with a tour of Clifton Street Cemetery to visit the graves of Anraí Seoighe & Máire Áine followed by a Poc fada for everyone to get involved children, adults and of course our camogs and hurlers.
We hope that the weekend is full of fun and enjoyment for all ages and that we get the message out to people in the area that may want to get involved!