We are delighted with the recent planning permission granted to build a purpose-built gym. It’s an exciting time for the club and to see new resources being approved is fantastic. We hope to start construction shortly.
The Skills Wall and Gym will be a great addition to our fantastic clubhouse. These resources will greatly benefit all codes within the juvenile and adult section of the club. These projects don’t come together easily and they are a testament to our volunteers who give their time to improve the club, our members who got many fundraisers to pay for all this, and our sponsors who have been behind us for many years.
Skerries Harps GAA and Camogie Club is the largest club in the town, with over 100 teams and growing membership. Demand for pitches and facilities is at breaking point. Without the development of additional pitches, the club is at serious risk of not being able to cater to demand. There is only so much we can do as a club and we really need the local authority to step up and to provide additional pitches. It seems that additional housing is being prioritised without the social infrastructure required to keep pace. People need houses but they also need to be part of the community and sporting clubs play a key part in that community. If we can’t cater to the growing demand, it is not only our members but the wider community which will be impacted.
We are working closely with the council and speaking to politicians but there has been little or no progress. In a recent Fingal County Council audit (through KPMG) of leisure facilities, including playing pitches in Fingal. https://www.fingal.ie/sports-and-recreation-facilities-audit. It has identified the infrastructural deficit of playing pitches in Skerries given the planned development of housing and has highlighted the Holmpatrick area of Skerries, particularly where our lands are.
We are taking a proactive approach to this and are trying to provide solutions to the pitches and facilities shortages ourselves. The Skerries Harps Development Committee formed last June is building on the foundations of the previous development committee who successfully built our clubhouse 7 years ago and on the foresight shown by members in the past who were instrumental in Skerries Harps acquiring lands on Tougher Hill. We have a Short, Medium, and Long-term focus to develop sports facilities and playing pitches for our successful and dramatically growing club.
Short Term Strategy - Build Skills Wall and Purpose Built Gym
Medium-Term Strategy - Build All-Weather Training Pitch and Ballwall and Seek Fingal Co Co allocation of additional resources that are desperately needed
Long Term Strategy - Develop GAA Pitches on Tougher Hill GAA Lands
Realistically we require 3 new additional adult full-size pitches and remedial work and improvements to the adult Council pitches we have in Town Parks. We have the land to develop and have a well-thought-out, plan but need political will, Community Support and Fingal County Council Support, to develop our own 10 acres of land on Tougher Hill. We can be part of the solution and can contribute towards it if there is political will and action.
Our medium-term plan is to construct an all-weather training facility to the back of our main pitch. We have planning permission and we have applied for Sports Capital Grant funding towards this. This facility is badly needed as we are at the mercy of weather which frequently means training is canceled as pitches are closed. In addition, none of the council pitches we use has lighting so our own pitch beside the clubhouse for all our teams to train on from 6 pm to 10 pm when daylight is bad. There could be 250 people using that pitch on a single night so it takes a lot to keep it open but not a lot in terms of weather to close it. We are creaking at the seams for facilities and our only other full-size pitch in Town Parks continually floods and has been damaged as a result. The pitch is virtually unplayable for half the year. We are in real danger of not being able to cater to the increasing demand as Skerries grows as a town without additional investment in pitches.
The future is bright we hope and with new people coming on board we are looking at some exciting new initiatives we have signed up the CARA Charter, the GAA For All Inclusion Programme and hope to launch our GAA Allstars team for children with additional needs in the coming weeks. We are also conscious of the mental health needs of our members and our Wellbeing Officer is working on support initiatives and we will be taking part in the upcoming GAA Club Mental Health Awareness Week in May. The skills wall and gym which we hope to have in place later this year will be a real boost in training resources and with some political will and fair wind we can have the much-needed pitches in place soon.