From the heart of rural Ireland, a delegation of GAA club members from the small village of Ballylanders in County Limerick are currently in America to raise funds for their club back home in an innovative project that has received the backing of the GAA headquarters.
The GAA Club which is home to 17 teams has plans in place to build a brand new state of the art facility on their club grounds. However, with Ireland still crippled by a recession that has seen high rates of unemployment and mass emigration affect fundraising efforts for community organizations across the nation, the project committee at Ballylanders knew they had to think outside the box to raise the capital required.
One such idea proposed was fundraising in America and allowing Irish and Irish Americans living in the states to become involved in their GAA story. Pat Meade, one of the committee members who is in the states this week, said of the project, “Our aim is to develop cultural links between Ireland and America and what better way to do this than to get people to be part of a project that epitomizes the heartbeat of every community throughout Ireland."
This is the first time a GAA Club from Ireland has attempted to fundraise in America for a project of this type and Pat along with another committee member, Eamonn, will be in Kansas and Boston over the next week seeking the help of people who want to be part of the Ballylanders story. Those wishing to make a donation will then have their efforts rewarded with an inscribed brick that will be used in the development of the building.
The Ballylanders GAA facilities were built 30 years ago by the volunteers of the club and at that time was home to seven teams, fast forward to 2013, and that number has jumped to seventeen including a ladies teams. Unlike their male counterparts, the ladies do not have a changing room for themselves and all club members are in agreement that “it is only right that we provide everyone with adequate facilities to participate in sport."
Since its inception, the club has received great support from GAA headquarters who helped them in the production of a promotional DVD. This promotional tool tells the story of the club and the GAA and is presented by legendary commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh. Such backing from the authorities gives an added boost to their efforts and according to Pat, “to receive the backing of these people speaks volumes about the project and how unique it is.”
Ballylanders GAA club is happy to be in a position to provide tax-exempt donations for U.S donors which they are hoping will encourage people to be part of their project. If you would like to find out more about this innovative project or make a donation you can contact Pat at 00353 87 6543287 or [email protected]
You can also visit the website www.ballylandersgaa.ie to watch the promotional DVD.
Jackie Kennedy’s granddaughter has uncannily similar looks