20 August 2008

Bawn, Co. Monaghan




Bawn, Co. Roscommon
Photograph and text below provided by E. McElroy
While today the handball court in Bawn, county Monaghan may stand out grey and sharp against the winter sky, the achievement of those who built the court in the early 30s was considerable for a small rural area. The original committee were chairman Bernard Duffy NT, secretary Fr. Terence Molloy, treasures Patrick Mc Entee & John Duffy, committee members Frank O Duffy, Patrick Clerkin, Joseph Reburn, and Terry Mc Enaney.

The first meeting of Bawn Handball Club took place took place in Patirck Mc Entree’s on 26th June 1931. To raise funds for the building of the ally a number of dances were held. Admission was gents 1 shilling (about 6 cents) and ladies 3d (about 3 cents). Proceeds ranged from £5. By Aug 1932 with much voluntary labour the work of building the alley and stand was completed at a total cost of £198.

Large crows would gather on Sunday mornings and games would be played till night fall, some great players emerged like Jim Moynagh and Seamus Mc Geough. An Ulster final was played in Bawn in the 50s, the winner being Victor Sherlock from Kingscourt, there was also some local Ulster champions and All Ireland finalists.

Like many 60 by 30 courts in rural areas the decline started in the late 70s with high emigration and also repairs being badly needed. Repairs were carried out in the 80s with the help of AnCo and local labour, with a new floor and netting installed and walls re-plastered. But it was too late as the youth population was not there. During the 90s it was hardly used at all. The door lay open and no sounds of a ball could be heard. It was a grey ghost from the past like so many that you pass along the road all over the country.

Then in July 2003 something miraculous happened. Like so many other good ideas it came about over a few pints in the local. A few local fellas decided to organise a handball competition, phonecalls were made and people told, most of the reacting by saying “HANDBALL, sure I haven’t played in 20 years”. Maybe it was the good summer that encouraged them, but 17 players took part in the first singles match on the bank holiday in August. A large crowd came to watch and interest grew A doubles match was next with over 30 people young and old taking part. Two more matches followed to finish of the season. The games were a delight to the older generation who had played the sport in their prime, and also to the children of the area who had never seen the game played there before. They are the hope for the sport in the area and a large number of then took part in a children’s match in November. Only a few months before if you asked one of them what the alley was for they would most likely reply “its for riding round inside on my bike”.

We hope to start back playing outdoors in March, weather permitting; meanwhile we are taking part in some of the competitions run by the Co. Monaghan handball club, and also a leaguer run by the Corduff club whose indoor 40 by20 ally we are using over the winter. We have a Bawn A and B team the only club in Monaghan with two teams. The Future? Well we have a strong committee and plenty of players also some new talent coming up, one thing we have achieved is a new community spirit for young and old and if we keep that up who knows what we can do.

By Eamonn McElroy, with help from Paddy Deigan and Joe Mc Cabe 14/12/03

3 comments:

eamon said...

since this was witten we in the bawn club have built our own 40x20 indoor alley and this year (09)have won a number of county titles, our under 13's have made the ulster final's . we have at the moment 45 adult and 35 juv members. Eamon.

mag said...

Philip Mc Keown here. The new handball alley in Bawn is amazing.

owenmcelroy said...

I visited this alley many time as a kid with my brothers Kevin and Michael & sister Ailish when we visited my uncle Joe McElroy. we would walk up Anne's hill dodging the cow pats until we got there and to the pub beside it for a bag of crisps and coke. it was a lot of fun when cousins were there too. Joes kids --John Alicia Ann & Sinead, Pats kids from Arvagh
The McCloskys The Maddens JJ Mcelroys gang the cousins from the UK Mary Edge, Paul & Stephen Cahill, Brendan McElroy, and our dear cousin Eileen Payne who died at 14
Joe McElroy died yesterday Jan 13th
2011 I was looking for his Obituary when I found this site..I'm glad I did!
Rest in Peace Joe
Owen Mcelroy jr.