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St Brendan's Park

The Hill

Loughrea

Loughrea, Co. Galway


A Brief History

The first record of a game played in Loughrea was on the 8th of April, 1887 in a field at Athenry Road, presumably "Bowes Field", which is now the site of Donnellan Drive.

From thence to "Stratton Field," opposite the Tennis Club. Next move was to Cosmona and from thence to "Mulkerrins Field" at Knockanina. Next to "Fallon's Field," near the town's reservoir and finally to its present location - Pairc Bhreandáin Naofa - or as it is affectionately known to the older residents of the town "The Big Field."

"The Big Field" is situated just inside the town boundary, on the main east approach of the town. Its location is significant, in so far as it is one of the first familiar landmarks visible to emigrants returning on vacation to their native Loughrea.

"The Big Field" was a town park, held in trust. Field games of all descriptions were played there and in addition the Loughrea Agricultural Show was also held in it. People from the town were also given accommodation to keep cows there.

The facilities for playing were very limited comprising of just the playing area. The Loughrea Development committee endeavored to improve the situation. Embankments were provided, the pitch was changed to East-West, but progress was slow

1970 saw a dramatic change. The Irish Land Commission, after much bargaining and negotiation, agreed to sell the land to parties using the ground a the time, namely the G.A.A. club, Show Society and the two cow owners, still using the facilities.

The cow owners were accommodated on the lower portion of ground. The Show Society on the town side of the ground, while the G.A.A. Club purchased 4 acres 2 roods and 18 perches on the Ballinasloe side of the grounds.

The purchase price was £1,210.00 paid in two moieties of £600 and £610 on the 6th and 14th of September, 1971 respectively.

Now the challenge was on. Facilities were required. Money had to be raised. A meeting was held. Someone had a wild idea of a Carnival of Dancing!! Marquee style!! It was decided to give it a chance. There was nothing to lose, or was there?

The Marquee was erected on the Fair Green site, fence secure, lighting decorations etc. erected when somebody had a horrible thought, "What if the marquee was a failure?" "Who would meet the losses?"

A hurried meeting was arranged and here the true character of the committee members emerged. Each and everyone of them committed themselves for £10 or £20 should the venture fail. With htat type of commitment, nothing could fail.

The Marquee went from success to success and soon plans were drawn up for the development of "The Big Field."

Another contributing factor to the success of the venture was the fact that the development coincided with the boom in Tynagh Mines. While this insured that money was plentiful in the area, it also had the effect of bringing to reside in Loughrea people of various trades and occupations. These people joined in the spirit of things and were to the fore when voluntary help was needed most.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the pitch began to take shape. Difficulties arose, set backs experienced, but all was forgotten when on the 29th of May, 1977, Pairc Bhreandáin Naofa was officially opened by Con Murphy, President of the G.A.A.





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