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.

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  • Seoirse

    I could not give a XXXX for Shamrock Rovers.

  • kensei

    So, the property is owned by the GAA. Whose responsibility is tot he development of their sport. They made an application to the council who had the power to stop them and were successful. They are investing a serious amount of money into the project. I don’t think “cultural warfare” is reasonable on that basis. Perhaps the council should be providing facilities and not relying on the largesse of an outside organisation.

    The GAA wants to develop the GAA. I have no doubt the other sporting bodies would be happy to do the same thing, and if it impacts other sports negatively then it’s not their problem. “Culture” doesn’t come into it. Is there anything more to this? The question is does the GAA see a net benefit or a net gain from banning other sports from using its facilities? I’m not sure there si a clear answer to that one

  • “Keep Castlemaine Community Sportsfield Open For All Games”

    The field has been used by the community for nearly forty years without the Gaa having anything to do with it. Now out of blue they demand that the field is theirs and they are planning to redevelop it. They don’t seem to give a damn about what happens to the other people who use the field daily. They have kicked out the soccer club. They have taken their goals off the pitch. They sneakily ploughed up the field in the dead of night leaving it unusable for the moment.

    This is for everyone who has happy memories of the school sports days, the athletic competitions, the parish activities, the summer camps, the soccer matches, among many other memories…and thoe who can’t ever remember a Gaa game being played there!

  • kensei


    The field has been used by the community for nearly forty years without the Gaa having anything to do with it. Now out of blue they demand that the field is theirs and they are planning to redevelop it.

    Property rights are fairly fundamental to a democracy. Either the GAA own it or they don’t; it should be a trivial matter to find out. Are they suggesting that they don’t actually own it?

  • Kensie, the title to land can be a bit of a grey area. An acquaintance of mine was standing on land that she and locals believed to be held in common. However title had been acquired and she had to pay what some would have regarded as a punitive fine for trespass.

  • No matter who owns the field surely it would be preferable for it to remain open and accessible to everyone in the community as it has done in the past? Public community spaces are something to be treasured. I’m in the middle of revising the revolutionary outbursts in Europe in 1848 and can’t help but linking this story in my head to the enclosure of communal pastures for the use of greedy landowners.

  • padraic

    Keep up, this happened weeks ago as far as I’m aware

  • Padraic, the protest took place yesterday, according to the Irish Times.

  • fin

    Nevin and 1967 are approaching this from common land/public space been taken into private ownership, which unfortunatively is a common occurance in the UK if Private Eye is correct. However, this is the opposite, its privately owned property (apparently) which individuals want to be made public land, I’m guessing the same individuals would have a different view if it was their land. In a way this is the same old same old people wanting something for nothing.
    If the GAA are going to develop it I’m guessing it will create some local employment, BUT it might be an idea for the GAA to give access to the other sports, through hire of the finished facilities.
    Over here in London the councils are selling off public land to a company that builds mini floodlit pitchs for rent at £40 per hour, now thats a ripoff.

    Guessing the local TDs will get invilved to smear the GAA to cover for their own inaction in providing public facilities.

  • The row simmered on but, last week, the whole thing escalated when the sports field was ploughed up on orders of the GAA club, under the cover of darkness, leaving the soccer club homeless. The Chairman of the GAA County Board confirmed that the work had been carried out on its instructions. The following night, a big hole was dug in the middle of the GAA club’s pitch causing an Under-21 game to be moved to a different venue. And so it goes.

    The latest move is that a newly formed body, the Castlemaine Community Sportsfield Action Group, is to lodge a petition in the Circuit Court seeking an injunction restraining Milltown Castlemaine GAA Club from further interference with the site. Everything changes, my friends, and, sometimes when it comes to land, nothing changes! Munster Express

  • fin,

    Here’s a bit more from the Munster Express:

    At the centre of the row is the Castlemaine Sports Field that was given to the general community, in the trust of the GAA, by the Spring Walker family in 1936. Since then it has always been used as a community venue and lots of carnivals, community fairs, dog shows, tennis and basketball events were held there at various times.

    Perhaps the terms of the gift need to be scrutinised as well as the use of the property since that time.

  • fin

    Nevin, I think its a bit more complicated than that, elsewhere its stated that the land was vested to the GAA by the Land Commission in 1936, and that the GAA plans include the handing over of land by the club to an adjoining playschool and the use of the proposed new car park within the new development by the local protestant primary school as a place for buses to drop off the school chrildren so they don’t have to be left off at the side of the road
    However it seems to be more than just a sloping field it has a community centre, tennis and basketball courts.

    Although I think it may make my earlier comment null and void as the property had belonged to the Spring-Walker family as part of the Meanus Estate, so it looks like the land went from private to state to GAA,

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Someone will look at right of use after 40 years despite who owns it.

    Land is never a simple issue especially where a group have had use of it for 40 years. In the UK 20 years creates a right of way for example.

  • picador

    Good to see the unionist contingent taking an interest in far off Kerry.

    However it’s not the Fethard boycott.

  • Picador, my interests in that part of the world extend beyond Kerry – to Co Cork 🙂

  • Concubhar

    The field is held for the benefit of the community by trustees who happen to be gas members. This a petty act by the gaa. It should be above such pettiness.

  • Claudius Pulcher

    Pete – is Pete Baker your real name? Or just a pseudonym?

  • Peter Fyfe

    Kerrymen put football before anything else, not exactly a shock. They would probably sell their own grandmothers for the cause of another sam. Maybe this is the key to their success. We should have Bradley and Sambo ripping up windsor if it works.

  • Peter Fyfe

    And when we are talking about Kerry, who else remembers the Gooch Cooper advertising board in belfast surrounded by union jacks. It was for lucozade sport. Alwasy wondered who made that decision. Wonder if they are still in advertising or maybe they started advertising the release date of the Northern Ireland kit up the falls.

  • Pete Baker


    If I was going to use a pseudonym I’d choose a much more colourful one. ;o)

    I use my own name because that means I have to stand by what I say.

    But I don’t want this to turn into a discussion about me. The original post is the ‘ball’ here.

    My email address is valid [click my name below] if you have any queries.

  • Danny O’Connor

    People in Kerry should thank their lucky stars ,If they had a DUP minister either-
    a – nothing would be built ala Gregory or
    b – someething even more totally inappropriate would be built ala Sammy.

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    Ah, a problem which encompasses the two biggest passions in the Kingdom, land and football. Ploughing the field at night-time was, as quoted in The Kerryman last week, ‘the greatest bit of scamping seen in a long time’ (I’m not entirely sure what scamping is but I can guess). The GAA as a mature national organisation should have more sense

  • scamp: To take without authorization; to steal. Usually but not always with playful rather than malicious intentions.