100 Years in The Making Tír na nÓg GAC 1919 to 2019

Tir na nÓg are half way through their Centenary celebrations. John Shannon gives a brief outline of the club’s history and how the year has gone so far.

From humble beginnings, having playing its first competitive match in August 1919 on reclaimed marshy ground, the Tír na nÓg Gaelic Athletic Club has remained true to its core values and grown from strength to strength.

Members of the Tir na nÓg club visited the grave of club founder Maurice Bogue in Drogheda earlier in the year

The history of Gaelic games in Co Antrim and Randalstown’s Tír na nÓg club, in particular, have their origins in the Gaelic Revival which swept Ireland between the death of Parnell, and the Irish Revolution from 1916 onwards.  The growth of the GAA in Ulster owed much to an infusion of key personnel from the South of Ireland, mainly of Post Office officials, inspectors and agricultural workers, often from strong hurling and football counties.

So too, in Randalstown when a young forestry worker, Maurice Bogue, arrived in 1912 to take charge of the forest in Shane’s Castle Estate for Lord O’Neill.   Having obtained a few sticks and a sliotar he introduced the skills to several locals.

Early in 1919 a meeting was called to consider the formation of a hurling club.  With the great revival of national spirit it was unanimously agreed to establish a club and to enter the County Championship.  The club assumed the name Tír na nÓg and registered the familiar royal blue colours. Among that first committee elected was: Arthur Martin, Tommy Martin and Paddy McCann whose children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are still involved in the club today.

One of the club’s founding members Arthur Martin

In Irish mythology Tír na nÓg (Land of the Young) is one of the names for the Celtic Otherworld.  It is best known from the tale of Oisín and Niamh.  Tír na nÓg is depicted as an island paradise and supernatural realm of everlasting youth, beauty, health, abundance and joy.  Its inhabitants are described as the gods of pre-Christian Ireland, who engage in poetry, music and entertainment.  The young from the lands around the Whitehill pitch have benefited from the vibrant spirit within the club.

Gaelic football and camogie were soon introduced in the club and within a few short years drama, Irish dancing and céilí evenings were the norm.  Underage hurling was not omitted and it was as a direct result of the activities of the Tír na nÓg club that the first South-West Antrim Schools Hurling League was formed in 1924.  The six teams that contested the league were Creggan, Farinflough, Magheralane, Randalstown, Moneynick and Carlane.  In the 1920s and early 30s an annual picnic was held in the hurley field, jam sandwiches and tea being the order of the day.

The social contribution of Tír na nÓg during the 20s and 30s must not be underestimated.

Often we look upon the first half of the twentieth century as black, white or grey years before moving into the era of colour and technicolour as the new millennium approached.  Yet on reflecting back on the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s that perception of drabness cannot be applied to the mindset, outlook and general personality of the people involved in Tír na nÓg at that time.  Their passion, humour, enthusiasm, ambition and almost zealot-like approach ensured that from humble beginnings by a Cork man in a marshy field off the Craigstown Road a strong and vibrant club had emerged.

Success in competition has been achieved over the centenary with hurling, football, camogie and Scor honours having been obtained at Antrim and Ulster Level with All Ireland achievement emanating from the Scor na nÓg competition.  The spirit within the club has ensured a constant programme of growth and development both in the facilities and the inclusivity of the local community.

Thus with an energy that has prevailed for one hundred years Tír na nÓg GAC has emerged as one of the eminent clubs in the country.  Today, at its home on the Barnish Road, there are two excellent pitches, a training pitch, an indoor 4G pitch, gymnasium, hurling wall, a suite of changing facilities, meeting rooms and a function room.  The facilities, some of which have received grant assistance from Sport NI, DARD, Antrim Borough Council and the Gaelic Athletic Association are for all the community with schools and other sporting organisations availing of them.  There have been a number of shared events with hockey and rugby clubs and in 2003 Tír na nÓg hosted the Special Olympians from Connecticut USA for a display of gaelic games and other local sports.

The club fields teams from Primary 1 through to adult level in camogie, hurling and gaelic football for both male and female.  There is an emphasis of personal health and Tír na nÓg has associated itself with with CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) – the club organised for a heart screening clinic to be set up and two hundred young people were screened in 2017 and a further 200 in 2018.  Since its inception one hundred years ago Tír na nÓg has produced many fine sportswomen and sportsmen, many of whom have represented proudly the club but have also played for Antrim, Ulster and Ireland in all codes of hurling camogie and gaelic football.

The club has a thriving cultural aspect participating in Scor and drama while offering Irish language, dance and music classess.  The social events continue to appeal and while the picnics and jam sandwiches may have gone they have been replaced an every expanding eclectic mix including Cúl Camp; Children’s Summer Scheme; Hunt for the Hunk; Balloon Race; Hypnotist; The Biggest Loser; Dancing with the Stars; Primary School Discos; Barbeques; Concerts; and Guest Teas to name but a few.

The club has thrived because of its people and their commitment to fundraise, train teams, referee matches, transport juvenile teams, build facilities and organise events.  This commitment gelled the Tír na nÓg family into what it is today and aspires to become in the years to come.  

To celebrate their one hundredth year anniversary the Tír na nÓg club have arranged a number of events which loosely follow four ancient Irish Festival times.  The themed festivals are:-

Imbolg:- This was held in February and was the opening week of the centenary.  It was based around St Brigids Day and had traditional crafts(basket making, rush cross making, turf cutting; eel fishing; hurling stick making; etc) and Irish language lessons

The Centenary committee with guest of honur Oliver Galligan at the Gala dinner in Tullyglass Hotel

Bealtaine:-A Gala Dinner was held in June attended by over five hundred and fifty guests.

Lúnasa:- To be held in August this will be a weekend of music, outdoor nights, children fun day and other events.

Samhain:-  Halloween shall bring the year of celebration to a close with a night for members to relax and reflect on the year that has been.

Interspersed throughout the year will be a focus on the teams, the games, bespoke club products and ground improvements.

The club has a museum installation for the year, displaying club and GAA memorabilia alongside members memories and highlights of their Tír na nÓg .

One of the highlights of the forthcoming Feile weekend will be the burial of a time capsule. set to be opened again in 25 years, the capsule has been filled with pictures, children’s art and other artefacts of interest.

Centenary Féile Celebrations at Tír na nÓg Randalstown

To mark 100 years of the formation of Tír na nÒg GAC in Randalstown, the club are hosting a Centenary Féile running from the 21st-25th of August in a purpose built marquee at their grounds on the Barnish Road in Randalstown. The Féile celebrations are open to one and all and we look forward to welcoming friends, neighbours and those from far flung places to celebrate with us and enjoy this milestone event in our history.

The festival kicks off on Wednesday 21st August with a night of Family Bingo, sure to be full of laughs, this is one for everyone! Kicks off 7:30pm tea and refreshments available. This is a non-ticketed event, just buy a book at the door! Book – £10, Half book – £5 Square – £1.

On Thursday 22nd  Tír na nÓG honours the champions of tomorrow with the Juvenile Gala. Ticket includes dinner, drink/slushie, entertainment and a very special gift box which will contain a commemorative gift only available at this event! It is smart dress so everyone is encouraged to wear their best party outfit! Children primary 1-4 celebrate from 5pm-7pm and Primary 5 upwards take to the floor between 7:30 and 9:30pm.

Friday 23rd August is a night of Comedy and Cocktails starring TV comedian Nuala McKeever and her ‘Letting Go or Losing it’ tour. Starting at 8pm, whilst the theme of the night is a celebration of Tír na nÒg women everyone is welcome! A handpicked selection of cocktails will be available for one night only, including a ‘Tír na nÓg Blue Lagoon’! Music ‘till late.

Saturday 24th August is our ‘Craic N’ Country’ night. Starting off the night is up and coming local artist Tiernán Heffron who has just recently launched a new album. ‘Jive NI’ will be presenting a showcase of jiving skills, which are sure to have everyone wanting to give it a go! The headline act is the fabulous Joe Davitt Country Band, joining us all the way from Co.Wexford. Hot on the heels of his successful UK tour, the current five-piece country dance group, is comprised of second and third generation family members of the famous Davitt Showband that were a major attraction in the dance halls around Ireland from the1950s to the 1980s. Its bound to be a lively evening, packed full of fantastic music and great entertainment.

Through out the evening there will be a Rodeo Bull Competition, with a cash prize for the rider with the best staying power. Starting at 8:30pm and the Criac’s on ‘till late! BBQ and refreshments available.

From 1pm-4pm on Sunday 25th August the Annual Family Funday will take place at Whitehill football pitch. Costume characters, face-painting, bouncy castles, an open air concert and a spectacular colour run are just of the events running in this jam packed afternoon!

To cap off the weekend of celebrations, The Whistlin’ Donkeys 32 County tour comes to Tír na nÓg commencing at 8pm ‘till late the headline act will be supported by The Katie McParland Folk Group.  BBQ and refreshments available.

Tickets for all events are available online at https://www.klubfunder.com/Clubs/Friends_of_Tir_na_nOg

and are also on sale at the clubroom, 57 Barnish Road Randalstown on Tuesday 20th between 7 and 8pm. All tickets are £12 excluding the Juvenile Gala which is £10.

Will you, the reader, support the Saffron Gael

The championship season is in full swing and the Saffron Gael is flat out trying to cover as many games as we possibly can. Our sponsors and the clubs have kept us going with their continued support but we need you the reader to come on board to keep things going.

We are asking our readers to show your support by signing up by direct debit for £5 per month, that’s just £1.25 a week.

Think on it £1.25 would not buy you a cup of coffee

Each week we have between eighteen and twenty thousand different readers on the site, with between forty and fifty thousand hits. If we could get a fraction of them signing up to support us it would make a big, big difference. As we have often said we do not want to put the site behind a pay-wall as we feel it is very important that everyone has access to the content.

For those who already make a monthly contribution through PayPal just continue doing it that way.

We are asking you to sign up for £5 per month by setting up a direct debit. The Saffron Gael account details are

Sort Code –    950679

Account no. – 60144215  

One way procession as Ahoghill advance to the semi-final

Junior Hurling Championship quarter-final

St. Mary’s Ahoghill 9-30 Ballycastle 0-1

This Junior camogie quarter-final turned into a one-way procession as St. Mary’s Ahoghill proved much too strong for visitors Ballycastle at Cloney tonight. The home side led from start to finish and three goals in the opening seven minutes set the tone for what was to follow.

Catriona Graham got the first after 30 seconds and Noreen Graham added two more as the home side laid siege on the visitors goal. Catriona Graham, Maura Downey and Noreen Graham added a flurry of points as the gallant Ballycastle third string battled bravely to contain the incessant surge towards their goal.

Noreen Graham completed her hat trick by the end of the opening quarter as the Cloney girls continued to carve open an over stretched visitors defence with the strong running Maura Downey striking some excellent points and Louise McNeill in the Ballycastle goals coming to her side’s rescue on a number of occasions.

The Ballycastle captain was left with no chance as the onslaught continued however as Noreen Graham fired home her fourth and her sides fifth goal and by half time the home side had this one well and truly wrapped up when they led 5-18 to 0-1, the Ballycastle score coming from the hard working Beck Ellis who pointed a 23d minute free.

Ahoghill continued to press on the restart with Fiona Blaney and Caitriona Graham driving them forward from mid-field and a strong defence denying Ballycastle any opportunity to add to their first half total.

The superb Maura Downey hammered home goal number six in the second minute of the second half and another from the equally impressive Noreen Graham after five minutes saw Ahoghill move out of sight of their opponents.

Further goals from Aine Graham in the 9th and 10th minutes brought the home side’s tally to nine and the goals dried up after that with the home side content to finish with a flurry of points

Ahoghill go forward to meet Loughgiel in the semi-final and they are likely to face a much stiffer test in that one but it is a challenge Dermot Graham’s side will welcome and on tonight’s showing they shouldn’t fear anyone.

Their defence didn’t have a lot to do over the hour but they dealt competently with anything that came their way while Catriona Graham and Fiona Blaney controlled matters from mid-field. In a very lively attack Maura Downey, Noreen Graham and Aine Graham were the players who provided the greatest threat and the majority of the scores.

Before throw in I overheard the Ballycastle management asking for a big effort throughout and despite the scoreline he got it in bagful’s. Louise McNeill in goals couldn’t be faulted for any of the Ahoghill goals and saved her side from an even bigger hammering while Justine Kelly, Caoimhe Hunter and Laura Neill were best in a defence who worked their socks off.

St. Mary’s Ahoghill: Angela Townsend, Nicola Doherty, Mairead McCloskey, Sinead McKenna, Emma McGlone, Eadaoin McGarry, Tracy Hardy, Catriona Graham, Fiona Blaney, Paula Gribbin, Aine Graham, Maura Downey, Anne Marie O’Neill, Noreen Graham, Ciara McGuigan. Subs: Caitlin McLaughlin, Dearbhaile Graffin, Fionnuala McKeever, Caitlin O’Hagan, Brona McGuigan

Ballycastle: Louise McNeill, Justine Kelly, Sinead McBride, Caoimhe Hunter, Nuala McCaughan, Riona Loufthouse, Laura Neill, Emer O’Neill, Beck Ellis, Louise McNeill, Grainne O’Neill, Ciara Mathers, Briege McCarry, Aideen McGee, Kierna McGinty.

Referee: Jimmy Totten Cargin)

Wins for Loughgiel, Glenravel, Armoy and Rasharkin in Junior Camogie Championship

PRELIMINARY ROUND, PART 1
Thursday 15th August
St Paul’s 3-3 Brídíní Óga Glenravel 4-11

Portglenone 4-4 Loughgiel 7-21

Rasharkin 2-14 Cushendall 0-4

St Enda’s 1-2 Armoy 3-4

By Seamus McAleenan

Four games took place tonight in the Antrim Junior championship with three teams winning away from home.
Last year’s beaten finalists Brídíní Óga Glenravel enjoyed a good opening half on Shaw’s Road and led St Paul’s by 2-7 to 0-2 at the break with goals from Aimee Traynor and Oonagh Ward.
Oonagh scored a third goal in the opening minute of the second half, but Aisling (2) and Bróna Reilly hit back with goals for St Paul’s while Niamh Donnelly’s 45 went all the way to the net in a 4-11 to 3-3 win.
Meanwhile in Glengormley, first half goals from Jennifer and Caitriona Devlin (directly from a 45) put Armoy 2-3 to 0-1 up at the break.
Leah Martin added a third goal while Cathy Christie scored three points for the visitors with Cliodhna Kane replying with 1-1 for Naomh Éanna.


Last year’s champions Loughgiel were also on the road and they hit Portglenone for seven! Four of the goals came in the opening half and they turned around with a 4-8 to 2-2 advantage, with Laura McCann finding the net for both Geraldine’s goals
Although Portglenone doubled their first half score with goals from Aoibhinn McCloskey and Niamh Hamill, the Shamrocks were still the dominant team and finished up with a total of 7-21.
Rasharkin was the only home side to win on the night, beating visiting Cushendall by 2-14 to 0-4.
The killer scores came in the 20th and 23rd minutes – goals from Eimear Quigg and Danielle McAllister – and they led by 2-6 to points each from Clare Stewart and Niamh Conlon.
The Cushendall defence did well in the second half, but four points each from Jade Henry and Amy McMullan sent Rasharkin through to a meeting with Armoy (in Armoy) in next week-end’s quarter-finals, while Cushendall will have home venue against Naomh Éanna in the Shield quarter-final.

Rest of Antrim Junior championship first round fixtures
Friday 16th August
Replays Sunday 18th August

Gort na Móna v Sarsfield’s

Ahoghill v Ballycastle 3

Saturday 17th August
Replays Sunday 18th August, 7.30pm
Creggan v Rossa 2