Harbour lights shine as Glanworth's new facility connects sport and community

Harbour lights shine as Glanworth's new facility connects sport and community

The fully floodlit astroturf facility in Glanworth. Picture: Eddie O’Hare

A new facility in Glanworth will transform the sporting and community fabric of the area, explains Michael Sheehan.

OVER the last few weeks we have been presented with dramatic clips and images of the potential negative impact climate change could have on this beautiful isle.

We’re told that global warming could raise sea levels globally and by 2050, this significant global phenomenon could leave many parts of Cork city and harbour as well as the county underwater. It is a threat that we need to be all conscious of and one which we simply cannot ignore given these consequences.

However, where I come from in North Cork, we see a harbour rising is a good thing. Do let me explain.

Our beautiful village of Glanworth on banks of the River Funcheon is known in many quarters as ‘the harbour’. But, Glanworth is located inland and miles from the sea, how does this make sense? Well, it stems from the ninth century when the Vikings sailed inland as far as our magnificent monastery and decided to settle here.

To this day, our hurling club is still known as Harbour Rovers and our entourage at local clashes are often heard bellowing ‘Up the harbour’.

The protagonists from Scandinavia are only a minor part of our incredible and fruitful history which has left many a tangible mark on the local landscape. Without sounding too much like I’m working for the local tourism board I highly recommend a visit to the megalithic wedge tomb (affectionately known as the Hags bed) as well as the scenic Norman castle, old mill and ornate bridge on the banks of the harbour… I mean the river.

With the history out of the way let me bring you into the present.

Located in the heart of the MMF triangle (Mallow – Mitchelstown – Fermoy) in north Cork, our community is going through a real transformation that has captivated the imagination of locals as well as neighbouring settlements.

The recession didn’t pass us a decade ago when it was sweeping across the nation. But in the last few years we, like many other parts of Ireland, are starting to see some green shoots of rural life again. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not plain sailing. Our location in the middle of that aforementioned triangle means that passing commerce is less likely to make its way through the village and thus trade is deposited with our friends elsewhere.

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

But why should this be a barrier to our own growth and development as a community where families, young and old, can be proud to call home? It shouldn’t be and we decided that it wasn’t going to be.

For years we watched as locals headed for more alluvial pastures that provided parks, recreation, facilities and services that we simply didn’t have. Think about it for a second – not being able to provide for your community? It doesn’t make sense. Something had to be done and something was done.

Conor Cavanagh, (centre) representing the Cavanagh family who opened the new facility, with Thomas Fitzgibbon, secretary; James O'Keeffe, treasurer; Liam Cotter, chairman and Mikie Sheehan, Glanworth Community Development Group. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Conor Cavanagh, (centre) representing the Cavanagh family who opened the new facility, with Thomas Fitzgibbon, secretary; James O'Keeffe, treasurer; Liam Cotter, chairman and Mikie Sheehan, Glanworth Community Development Group. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A number of years ago a Community Development Group was established with the primary aim of developing facilities that would cater for the needs of all members of the community. This plan wasn’t just plucked from the sky. Workshops with all local groups and societies were held, public meetings were arranged, and in-depth research was conducted by the Group led by Liam Cotter. It led to a master plan being developed which was aspirational at best. That was the fall of 2016.

Our plan was ambitious and would require community buy-in from the very outset. Phase one was to build a playground for the young people of our community which would be on our doorstep.

It would become a haven for parents and childminders alike and just a short trip up the road. Phase two was the development of the local schools’ pitch into an astro-turf facility that could be used by the school during their opening hours and by the community out of hours. This would be supported by increased parking facilities to benefit teachers, the neighbours and the users.

Finally, phase three was to add to that development and create facilities that would allow new sports to be played locally. A championship standard tennis court and multi-use games for juveniles were at the heart of this plan. A key part of our research identified that sporting opportunities outside of our outstanding GAA structures were needed.

We set about how we were going to do this and of course, money was the major obstacle. It usually is. However, a small bit of joined-up thinking, a bit of planning, support from our local council and a bit of momentum saw us pull together enough funds to start the whole project. 

A previous community playground group got involved and before you knew it we were questioning the type of trees we should be putting in alongside the swings and slides.

In March 2018 this phase was completed, and we opened a leading-edge playground that has now made us the envy of many of our peers.

Nathan Lomax is tackled by Fionn Wilson. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Nathan Lomax is tackled by Fionn Wilson. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Now, as we close out 2019, we have just officially opened this state of the art, fully floodlit astro-turf facility as planned. The facility has been open with a few weeks and already we have been fully booked most nights of the week.

The final phase has also just received a significant funding boost through sports capital which will now allow us to finish next year what many saw as just a pipe dream a few years ago. We can’t thanks those who have supported us enough, particularly the Tom Cavanagh supported TOMAR trust.

This project has done more than just provide facilities though. It has acted as a game changer locally. The community is booming and involvement in making a change is at an all-time high. 

Whether it’s the GAA or soccer club, the local council, our friends in tidy town and the Rockmills group, the Glanworth players, the very-active retirement group, the scouting network or simply just neighbours and friends, each has played there part in changing the mood music around the community.

Cousins Joe Cahill and Shane Sweetnam at the official opening. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cousins Joe Cahill and Shane Sweetnam at the official opening. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The harbour is on the rise, just don’t alert the climate activists.

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