Park Ratheniska representing Laois in GAA Green club initiative

Brian Lowry

Reporter:

Brian Lowry

Email:

brian.lowry@leinsterexpress.ie

Park Ratheniska representing Laois in GAA Green club initiative

Park Ratheniska GAA club

PARK/RATHENISKA GAA CLUB is one of 45 clubs along with two regional venues, selected to participate in Phase One of a new GAA Green Club programme launched Wednesday, December 9th.  

The GAA Green Club Programme, supported by the County & City Management Association and the local authority Climate Action Regional Offices, is delivered in partnership with the LGFA and Camogie Association, with additional support from expert agencies across the five thematic focus areas of the programme, namely: Energy, Waste, Biodiversity, Water, Travel & Transport. It will see clubs explore a range of sustainability projects designed to enrich their physical and social environments. The Park/Ratheniska GAA Club is focusing primarily on the Waste theme but will not be limited to this area of work.  

The all-Ireland nature of the initiative was reflected in the contribution to the online launch event by Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications in the Republic and representatives of Northern Ireland Executive’s Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs.

The Green Club Phase One participants were selected from 220 clubs that responded earlier this year to a questionnaire designed to gauge interest in developing a Green Club initiative. The responses highlighted a wealth of sustainability work already being undertaken by GAA units and a desire to further contribute to the green agenda while future-proofing their communities and facilities.

Phase One will run for twelve months from December 2020 with the intention of amassing as much practical learnings from the participating clubs and venues as possible. This will inform the creation of a GAA Green Clubs toolkit that will be made available to all GAA units in Ireland (1,600 clubs, plus county and provincial venues), replete with useful case studies, established partnership models, and funding avenues.

GAA President, John Horan, said: “The Green Clubs Project further demonstrates that at its core the GAA is a community-based organisation grounded in place. The project seeks to support our hard-working volunteers in future-proofing their club facilities while contributing to the sustainability of their community from an environmental and cultural perspective. It also demonstrates the GAA’s commitment as an official SDG Champion of the Irish government.” 

Minister Eamon Ryan, TD, said: “I am delighted to support the GAA Green Clubs initiative which will see practical sustainable solutions to tackle climate change implemented by clubs all over Ireland. The GAA has been a valuable partner in championing the Sustainable Development Goals. This initiative plays to the GAA’s strengths; by acting locally to tackle a global issue it will contribute to a reduction in CO2 emissions and build awareness of the challenges we face in dealing with climate change.”

“I believe the Green Clubs initiative has the potential to be a real catalyst for change, harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of not just the young players on the pitch. It draws in the club officials, their supporters their families and their communities. I hope my Department will be able to continue to explore with the GAA those areas where we can guide and support their activities.”

Attendees of the online launch on Wednesday evening heard Padraig Fallon of the Clan na Gael club in Dundalk outline a recent energy saving project the club undertook with significant outcomes. The project involved major insulation, ventilation, and maintenance works, including switching to LED bulbs throughout their campus, and has resulted in annual energy and maintenance savings of €10,000, vastly improved lighting on their playing pitches while achieving an annual reduction in CO2 emissions of 30 tonnes.

The club submitted an SEAI grant application through Louth Co. Co./Louth Energy Sustainable Energy Community, receiving 50% funding for the project. The club contributed the remaining balance through a seven-year loan paid by savings on their reduced energy spend. 

Clan na Gael is one of three mentoring clubs selected, due to their significant existing work and plans in the field of sustainability, to participate in Phase One of the Green Club Programme, along with Mullingar Shamrocks, Westmeath, and Culloville Blues, Armagh. A Green Club Working Group, involving representation from all stakeholders, is overseeing the implementation of Phase One of the project. 

Speaking of the initiative, Park/Ratheniska Secretary Brian Ramsbottom said his Club was very enthusiastic about the initiative. 

“We are honoured to be asked to become involved in this hugely worthwhile project. We view ourselves a progressive Club, who are always investigating new and better ways to serve our community and local environment. The practical and sustainable solutions which will potentially emerge from this project could benefit 1000’s of GAA Clubs across Ireland. While we are delighted to be involved in the Waste area of this project, we are also extremely interested in seeing what benefits we can take from all the other Clubs taking in part in the varying aspects of the scheme”. 

Park/Ratheniska GAA, through their Health and Wellbeing Officer Eileen Dunne and her committee, have been very active in the past year in the GAA’s Official Healthy Club initiative, achieving all the criteria and qualifying as an Official GAA Healthy Club. Indeed, it was the Park/Ratheniska Footballers who first came up with the initial “300K in a Day” fundraising idea which gave such a boost to the “Do it for Dan” Fundraising Drive.

 Combined with their recent Clubhouse and Grounds Developments which have completed 5 years of Capital Development in their small village, this is seen as another step on the road to serving its members and community in the best means possible.