Cultural warfare or community development?

The Irish Times reports protests at the GAA headquarters in Kerry yesterday in response to the organisation’s authorisation of the night-time ploughing up of a five-and-a-half-acre field in Castlemaine two weeks ago that had been used by the local community for a variety of other sports for decades. From the Irish Times

The organisation says it is investing €750,000 in improving the facility for the community but cannot allow soccer and rugby to be played there. The ploughing up of the sportsfield means the local soccer club, Castlemaine United, now has no home field after three decades of using the pitch. Other activities also have no venue now, it is claimed, in the row which is dividing the community in Castlemaine and nearby Milltown.

Also from the Irish Times report

Chairman of the Kerry County Board Jerome Conway has defended the arrival of heavy machinery and the ploughing of the field. Mr Conway said the sloping field had been used by the GAA over the years as a juvenile sports pitch, but it had not been properly developed.

The organisation now wants to develop the pitch and has planning permission to do so. It had documentation to prove it owned the field. Mr Conway has also said GAA rules meant they could not allow other sports clubs or activities on the pitch. The opening up of Croke Park to soccer did not apply to other fields, he said, and the GAA in Castlemaine-Milltown were simply abiding by the rules.

An ad hoc group, the Castlemaine Community Sportsfield Action Group – which organised yesterday’s protest – said the field was handed over by the Spring-Walker family in 1936 for the benefit of the community.

Albert Boyle, a member of the Castlemaine soccer club who has also played GAA, said: “We want the field for the community. It always was a community field.” They would continue to highlight their grievance, he said.