• Location

    Pairc An Phiarsaigh – home of CLG Ard an Ratha

     The Pearse Memorial Park, Ardara, one of the first, if not the first G.A.A. playing field to come into the possession of the Ardara Club officially as per title on the 17th January, 1935 having been purchased in 1933 and a bank loan in the sum of £200.00 was obtained from the National Bank, Ardara on the 12th April, 1934. 

    The field, consisting of an area of 5 acres, 2 roods and 35 square perches statute measure, is situated in Ardara and formed part of the lands received by Richard Murray from James Nesbitt on the 20th December, 1669, at an annual annuity of one pound fourteen shillings and six pence, beginning on the 1st December, 1913 until the advance of £53.00 had been paid which was the 12th December, 1926. Mr. Francis Gildea, Ardara, bought the field from part of C.D.B. Estate, formerly owned by James R. K. Trendenick on the 31st October, 1913 and became the registered owner on the 2nd April, 1914 and on the 26th February, Mr. Hugh Gildea, Main Street, Merchant, became the registered owner.

    On the 17th January, 1935, the Ardara G.A.A. Club bought the property for £180.00 and Mr. Sean Cassidy, Mr. Charles Mooney, and Joseph V. Herron, were named and recorded as Trustees and the property was registered in the name of the G.A.A.Club on 2nd June. On the 29th September, 1980, Mr. Columba Diver and Mr. Patsy Gildea (representing theClub) and Mr. Francis Cunningham, Carrick (representing Donegal County Board), were registered as Trustees of the Pearse Memorial Park.

    On the 27th August, 1937 in order to keep the Park Account solvent the three Trustees contributed £10.00 each and on the 7th September, 1954 this matter had not been disposed of, when Mr. Tommy Boyle took over as Club Treasurer but was cleared off later.  On the 3rd June, 1939, the pitch was vested in the G.A.A. at Croke Park and £100.00 grant aid paid to the Club and on the 27th September, 1954, a grant of £50.00 was obtained from the Ulster Council.

    From 1933 until 1935 a considerable change had taken place and the newly acquired field which was a rough grazing, undrained and fir blocks visible and many others which did not appear until drainage work was in progress or until the surface had settles afterwards.  Great credit was due to the many volunteers who worked on the field.  A playable surface was eventually achieved and a home-made concrete roller (still in use) was used to level the surface and a tar-barrel fence placed around the field.

    When the County semi-final (Ardara v Bundoran) and Final (Ardara v Dungloe) were played in August 1936, the Ardara G.A.A. Club and Supporters had every reason to be proud of a fine playing field.

    At a Club Meeting on the 2nd May, 1939 it was proposed by Domhnall O’Creag and seconded by Padraig S. Mac a Ghoill and adopted to name the playing field the Pearse memorial Park so that at the Official Opening this name could be used.  It was also decided to invite the Mayo senior Football team to play Donegal at the Opening and that Ardara play Downstrands as a Curtain Raiser.

    On Sunday 13th June, 1939 the Park was officially dedicated, blessed and opened by the Very Rev. Canon J.  Byrne, P.P., Ardara.  The following is the report of the big event carried in the Sports Page of the “Peoples Press” on Saturday 17th June, 1939.

    The Gaeltacht Village of Ardara was enthusiastically decorated on Sunday with banners and streamers spanning the Streets bearing Irish slogans to greet Mayo, the great Western footballers and six successive time National League winners, who were the attraction in a challenge game with Donegal for the Pearse Memorial Cup presented by the Ardara Club for the official opening of their new G.A.A. Park.

    Weather conditions were by no means ideal and rather heavy showers of rain fell throughout the afternoon, but nevertheless, this did not in the least mar the event and there was a large crowd present, representative of all parts of the Country, and from areas far beyond.  The elaborate and beautiful new Park was with befitting ceremonial solemnly blessed and declared open by Very Rev. Canon Byrne, P.P., Ardara, who delivered the opening address in the unavoidable absence of Mr. P. MacNamee, National President of the G.A.A.

    Situated behind the Town and overlooking the sea, or Loughrosmore Bay with a fine panorama of the Donegal hills and mountains, the new Park is one of the most picturesque in Ulster.  For the past six months the combined brains and intelligence of the local G.A.A. Club prominent amongst these were Messers Donal F. ward (Secretary) and Sean Ua Caiside, both Secretary and Treasurer to the County Committee respectively, have been actively at work to achieve the present magnificient stadium.

    Voluntary labour figured largely in the scheme except the fencing in the pitch with wire, posts, etc, and including the construction of a neat dressing room for players, which ran into high costs financially.  Elaborate seating accommodation has also been provided on both sides of the pitch, and when the funds are more replete the Committee hope to erect a grand Stand.  Kilcar A.O.H. Pipe Ban were present all during the day and rendered excellent selections of traditional airs and music during the day both in the village before and after the ceremony and games.  The Donegal and Mayo Teams were also played on the field by the Band and marched around the Park before entering their positions for the game.

    The Opening Ceremony

    After blessing the new Park, very Rev, Canon Byrne, Ardara, delivered the opening address in the course of which he referred to the unavoidable absence of the President of the Gaelic Athletic Association who was to be there on the occasion, and thanked the local G.A.A. Club for extending him the invitation to attend to declare the Park opened.  He looked upon the occasion as a great honour conferred on him by the Gaels of Ardara and moreover looked upon it as a great honour given to the Church.

    He highly congratulated the members of the Ardara Club for their great and untiring work on the magnificent manner in which they had the field so properly and elaborately planned and lined out.   Before the members of the Club began to work at this field a short time ago, said the Cannon, it was then only rough moorland but he must say the work done spontaniously to these grounds of pitch has given it a complete transformation.  He hoped the local G.A.A. Club now with its magnificent field at their disposal would continue to prosper.

    He the Canon, could not bring his brief address to a close without mentioning the name selected by the Club for their new Park.  It was a very appropriate name – The Pearse Memorial Park.  The name of Pearse, he said would always live in Ireland for his work done nobly and wholeheartedly for the cause in all its phases, both language and games and as a Patron his name would live for ever.  The four Teams formed a semi-cricle around the Platform by the roadside.  Cheers……… Canon Byrne then declared the Park open.

    Welcome to Mayo Team

    Mr. Sean Cassidy, O.S., who was the next Speaker in the course of the brief address.  He paid a high tribute to the people of the town of Ardara and also the people of the entire Parish.  They all, he said, contributed their part magnificently towards the work of founding a magnificent official venue, so that a prominent place could be given to their native games.   By their assistance he said, they had demonstrated the high esteem and regard in which they held their games which were of considerable National importance.

    He then extended a hearty welcome to the Mayo G.A.A. team who travelled such a long distance to play Donegal on this occasion and to demonstrate their high skill of football talent which had won for them such a great reputation all over the land.  They were under a deep debt of gratitude to the Mayo team who at once consented without t hesitation to travel to Ardara when approached.

    Mayo Captain Acknowledges

    Mr. P. Moclair, Captain of the Mayo Team, acknowledging the address of welcome, sincerely thanked the Ardara Gaels for giving them the opportunity to come to Donegal.  They were highly pleased with their visit which was a very enjoyable one for all of them.  They highly appreciated the kindness and hospitality shown to them in the land of the O’Donnells.  As a matter of fact we, the members of the Mayo Team, concluded the Speaker, are rejoiced to be given the opportunity to travel anywhere, and do our utmost, especially where the interest of the G.A.A. is concerned.

    The Referee for the match was Mr. Sean Kennedy, Chairman of Donegal County Board and he handled the game with his customary efficiency and skill.  Vinny McHugh was outstanding for Ardara and Paddy McGill also played his part on the Team.

    The Teams were:

    Donegal – Hugh McGuinness, Tommy Campbell (Bundoran), Tom Gallagher (Ardara), Neil McMonagle (Kilcar), Eddie Cannon (Kilcar), Paddy McGill (Ardara), Seamus McGarvey (Rosses Rovers), Vinny McHugh (Ardara), M. Melly, Alo Gorman (Bundoran), Hughie Gallagher (Gweedore), S. Doherty, John Gallagher (Gweedore), Dinny Callaghan (Killybegs), Joe Bradley (Killygordon).  Others to play were Jim Maxwell (Ardara), Columba McDyre,

    Mayo – T. Burke, P. Quinn, J. O’Shaughnessy, P. Kelly, T. O’Regan, J. Poffenwell, M. Griffen, A.O’Toole, J. Munnelly, J. Keaney, P. Judge, S. Mongey, G. Gorrell, P. Moclaire and T. Hoban.

    The final score in the match was Mayo (3-08) to Donegal (1-04).

    Trophy Presented

    Following the match the trophy – the Pearse Memorial Cup – was presented to the winning Team by Mr. Sean Kennedy, O.S., (Meevagh), Chairman of the Donegal County Board, who speaking in Irish, congratulated the winners upon their success, which he said, they had deserved.  The Cup was presented amid enthusiasm and on behalf of the Mayo team Mr. P. Moclair suitable replied.

    The attitude of both Teams towards the match was most sportsmanlike.  In the course of the interview with the “Peoples Press”, the G.A.A. correspondent, one member of the Mayo Tea said he confessed he was expressing the wish of the whole Team that they deeply appreciated their visit to the highlands of Donegal, and gave voice to the beautiful scenery which they encountered of their journey to Ardara.  He also gave voice to the kindness and hospitality of the people of the Gaeltacht.

    On the playing pitch, he said they deeply appreciated the spirit of the crowd.  It was indeed a pleasure to play under such circumstances.  Concluding, he said they were delighted with the Ardara village and surroundings and the catering arrangements too were up to a standard which could not be surpassed.  It was really a pleasurable trip for them and they would return home with their admiration for Donegal increased a hundredfold.  The Donegal players praised the visitors and readily admitted that the Mayo team could not be excelled for their sporting manner.

    The “Curtain Raiser”

    Prior to the big game Ardara met Downstrands in a Junior friendly encounter as a “Curtain Raiser” to the other match.  His was a one-sided game as the final score indicated.  The visitors were masters of the situation at all stages and ran out easy winners on a score of (1-06) to (0-01).  Prominent for Ardara were McGill, Gallagher, O’Boyle and Maloney and for Downstrands, Gildea, Shovlin and Early were prominent.  Mr. J. Whorriskey, Ardara, was an impartial Referee.

    Ceilidhe Mhor/An Concert

    There was a very enjoyable Ceilidhe Mhor in the Iona Hall on Saturday night at which the Mayo footballers were guests of honour.  The music was by the Forthill Ceili Band and Padraig S. Mac a Ghoill was fear an Ti.   During the interval they were welcomed by Mr. Donal F. Ward (Secretary of Donegal County Board).

    There was a very large attendance as was again on Sunday night when a Concert and Dramatic entertainment was staged.  The principal attraction was the celebrated Kilcar Irish Dramatic Club, winners of the first prize and the Dr. Tracy Cup at Sligo Feis this year, who produced “The Rising of the Moon”.  The Production was under the supervision of Mr. Brian McCairtt, O.G., who himself took one of the leading roles.  The Ardara Dramatic Club also produced an English Play “The Singer” by Padraig Pearse.  The acting was of a high standard and won rounds of applause.  There was also a supporting Concert programme of singing and dancing which proved high and left the audience in merriment.  Several artists of broadcasting fame figured on the Stage.  These Functions were huge success from all standpoints.

    Donegal Peoples Press – Saturday 17th June, 1939.

    Note – The “Peoples Press” G.A.A. Correspondent was none other than Donal F. Ward, County Secretary, Ardara better known as “BIG DAN”.

    In the years following the official opening a number of County Finals were played at Ardara.  It is also important to note that a number of Inter-County games – Football and Hurling  – were played on the Pearse Memorial Park.  The Teams to play were Armagh, Tyrone, Longford, Fermanagh and Donegal. During the 40′s and 50′s the Park was one of the best known and most used pitches in Donegal and one of the most popular with players on account of its cushion type soil – this is still true to-day.

    In the early 60′s the Pearse Park had deteriorated considerably and the Club decided that a Pitch at Sandfield should be rented (later bought) and not until 1978 was the home Pitch used again.  On the 1st December, 1976, work began on the restoration of the Pitch and Charlie Mooney delivered 500 tractor loads of material for levelling and by the 15th February, 1977, 1100 yards of drain had been constructed and 400 yards of open drains cleaned at a total cost of £2,800.00 – the cost being met from Club funds.

    The second phase of improvement was carried out from the 2nd November, 1977 to  25th Janaury, 1978 and included chain-link fencing and gates at a cost of £3,200.00 for which a grant of £1,900.00 was obtained from the Youth Employment Scheme.

    Phase 3 was carried out from the 13th March 1979 to the 14th April and 400 yards of drains were opened and closed and 50 yards of a two foot pipe laid at a cost of £500.00 – no grant available.  Stage 4 of the work was carried out on the 30th July, 1978 and continued while stage 3 was in progress and consisted of the building of dressing Rooms which were completed on the 2nd August, 1979 at a cost of £7,000.00.  Many men from the Club like John Byrne, Vincent McConnell, Columba Diver, Joe “Larry” Gallagher, Paddy McGill, Paddy Herron, Charlie Mooney and Patsy Gildea contributed their labour voluntarily.  Many others also in different ways.  Due to the bad weather in 1979 the work was not completed until 1980.

    As the work was being carried out under Youth Employment Scheme a grant of £4,000.00 was paid in respect of labour but a further bill of £630.00 had to be paid for E.S.B. connection.  In 1984 (Centenary Year) – the Club carried out the fifth phase of development a much needed facility – two Car Parks to accommodate one hundred Cars.  This work in April, May and July of 1984 was done at a cost of £6,000.00 (for which the grant was available) was completed I time for La na gClub – 25th July, 1984 when a Centenary Year Plaque was unveiled on the Club Dressing Rooms.  A grant was received of £3,200.00.

     

    The work carried out at Pearse Memorial Park up to 1984 cost in the region of £19,630.00.  In respect of this grants of £9,100.00 were obtained from the Youth Employment Scheme, £1,700.00 from the Central Council, £650.00 from Ulster Council.  Edward Molloy acted as Groundsman in 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982.   A FAS Scheme has been running at Pearse Memorial Park from the late 80′s into the 90′s and up until the present day.  This has worked with great effect with Columba Diver as Development Office with the Club and Martin Sweeney with his Team of men have carried out tremendous improvements.

    The addition of the Upper and Lower Car Parks which was carried out with funds which were organised by the late Charlie Bennett.  The Lower Car Park in recent years has been dug up in recent years and drained and this is used as a Practice Pitch for our Teams.  The main field was fenced and dugouts erected.  Drainage was done on a three year basis – 1997 – 2000.  Scoreboards and Hoarding have been erected with the Hoardings being sponsored on a five year basis by the local Business people.  Lights, new Nets on goalposts and Gates have also been added with the help of James and Owen Byrne.

    In 1999 two additional Dressing Rooms and a Tea Room/Meeting Room were built.  Many Photographs are on display and the Tea Room is used for supplying much need refreshments for visiting Teams.  In February, 2002, around the dressing Rooms have been tarmaced and signs and notices placed on the building in Irish.  In March of the same year a Plaque was unveiled in memory of the late Padraig S. Mac a Ghoill by his wife Nan and family.

    In 2007, the club commenced its most ambitious step yet in terms of development with the commencement of a brand new pitch behind Pearse Memorial Park. State-of-the-art floodlights and a spectators’ stand have also been added with the construction of new dressingrooms and fitness suite to begin construction very soon. This will mean that the club will boost some of the finest club facilities in the country and will mean that the club will be able to stride fourth in confidence both on and off the field of play in the years to come.