Groups look ahead to exciting weekend
The community of Loughmacrory has been busily preparing for the official opening of the state of the art Regional Outdoor Activity Centre in the village this weekend. The DARD Minister, Michelle O Neill, and GAA President elect, Aogán Ó Fearghaíl, will be in attendance, among many other invited guests and the local community, to officially open the facility on Saturday 28th June at 2pm.
The project, which was jointly developed by Loughmacrory Community Development Association, St Teresa’s GAC and Loughmacrory GAA Handball club, received £0.8 million from ARC North West under the Rural Development Programme. The total cost of the scheme was in excess of £1 million and included funding from the lottery, Omagh District Council, NIHE, the Ulster Wildlife Trust, local fund raising and contributions ‘in kind’ from volunteers.
The project, which is based on the shores of Loughmacrory is considered as one of the biggest and most visionary initiatives ever undertaken by a rural community. Now completed, the development also includes a new 500-seater stand at the football field, additional changing rooms, a running track around the current football field and 3 one wall handball courts, which can also be utilised for multiple community uses.
The development also incorporates an extension of the Loughview Centre to include a glass fronted modern gym overlooking the Lough, children’s play area, meeting rooms and changing facilities to cater for swimmers and triathletes using the lough.
In addition to this, the project involved the purchasing of additional fishing boats and upgrade to the infrastructure at the lough to consolidate Loughmacrory’s position as a destination for angling, building on its success of hosting the world junior angling championship in 2013.
Speaking ahead of the official opening, the Chair of Loughmacrory Community Development Association, Declan Mc Aleer, said “There is a palpable sense of excitement in the air as we prepare to officially open these incredible sporting and recreational facilities for the community and wider district. The project will have major health and social benefits for people of all ages and for future generations. We are also delighted that Loughmacrory Accordian Band, ‘Paistí Ná Fingréine’ has re-grouped for the special occasion.
“This is clear evidence that when a community is united with groups, from all disciplines and backgrounds, working together in a common cause that great result can be achieved. This project has involved the co-operation of a wide range of groups and agencies including, Loughmacrory GAC, Loughmacrory Handball Club, Loughmacrory & Murrins District Angling Club, Omagh District Council, Omagh Triathlon Club, Tyrone County GAA Board, Ulster GAA, ArcNW, DARD, Ulster Wildlife Trust, NI Water, NIEA, Loughs Agency and the input of many volunteers who worked hundreds of hours to get us to this point.
The Chair of Loughmacrory GAC, Barry Mc Elduff feels this is another massive milestone in the history of the club. “The official opening of the new facilities will mark a fantastic milestone in the history of our club. We are particularly delighted that the President elect of the GAA, Aogán Ó Fearghaíl, will join us for this momentous occasion. The club has organised an under 10 boys and girls football blitz with a throw in time of 1.30pm to celebrate this big day.
“Past and present members have worked tirelessly over the years to provide a vibrant club serving all the community and this new project will serve to reinforce this link. It will offer our members and partners the opportunity to benefit from state of the art facilities which will see the club grow and develop in the future. It’s a great news story in difficult times and we are delighted to be part of it.
Loughmacrory GAA Handball Club Chairman, Chris Curran, is in no doubt the impact this will have for the sport in the community. “The outdoor One Wall Handball facility is a major breakthrough for Loughmacrory GAA Handball club and the sport in general. One Wall handball has seen unprecedented growth and expansion in Ireland and around the world and there are few structures anywhere in the country quite to match this project. The fact it is covered but wholly open for the public to view, is something that can have a profound impact on the evolution of the game in the area.
“It will not only provide a One Wall Handball Centre of Excellence in the Loughmacrory area, thus attracting major provincial, national and possibly international events in the future, but will provide a multi-purpose facility for the entire community thus providing a brilliant synergy of all the various groups throughout the community.
Chairman of Omagh Triathlon club, Sean Healy, has also welcomed the development. “Omagh Triathlon Club is anticipating a fantastic Tri the Lough this year as it has attained national series status and with these new facilities, the race will only get bigger and better.
Joe Owens of the local angling club, ‘Loughmacrory and Murrin’s District Angling Association (LAMDAA) would like to extend our congratulations to all the organizations involved in developing this fabulous facility. “LAMDAA has worked in partnership with LCDA for the past number of years to develop angling at Loughmacrory. Being chosen as a destination for the world youth angling championship last year was a major achievement for us and we want to build on that success and attract even more people and interest to the area.