The community of Ballinahown (population when hinterland included approx. 500) has had a long association with sports. Over the years we can proudly claim to have produced local, national and world champions across a number of sports disciplines e.g. Gaelic football, hurling, rugby, soccer, athletics, golf and cycling. Such achievements for a small rural community are indeed rare and would not have been realised were it not for the facilities and support provided over the years by local sporting organisations and the greater community.
Ballinahown Sportspark is one such sporting facility. Our community Sportspark is located in a unique location spread across two counties, three GAA clubs, one soccer club, one hurling club and various other clubs. The Community Sportspark is home to our community buildings, walking track, playing fields, adjacent to the community playground and is in everyday use by the local national school.
Background to the provision of the Sportspark
The Irish Land Commission purchased the Crofts- Green estate in the 1970’s. The remit of the Land Commission at the time was to purchase agricultural land that presented for sale then divide and sell on parcels of land to farmers with a view to making their agricultural holdings more viable. When the Land Commission was in the process of dividing the Crofts Green estate in the mid 1980’s a local committee was formed and approached the Land Commission with a view to acquiring land for use by the local community. This led to the purchase of seven acres of land at a cost of £7,000. Over the next ten years the committee fundraised to pay repay the bank loan taken out to purchase the land and developed and drained the land to make it accessible for football and other sports. The committee also built dressing rooms and toilet facilities to cater for those using the facility.
In recent years the committee was approached by Ballinahown Development Committee and agreed a 20 year lease on a walking track two metres wide encircling the football pitches.
Our committee comprises a cross section of residents from local communities who work to help keep a sense of belonging and pride in the locality. In 2003 the committee established itself as a company limited by guarantee with 10 board members. The purpose of this was to allow more ease in the development of facilities for the community. The latest venture to be undertaken involves the building of an all-weather pitch.
Over the years the local community has benefited greatly by the initiatives undertaken firstly, by the committee established to purchase and develop the land and laterally to provide facilities now enjoyed by young and old in the locality. The provision of such a facility has contributed greatly to the development of community spirit and has ensured the community of Ballinahown and its’ hinterland have access to facilities many communities throughout the country would be jealous of.