Daingean GAA Club takes to the bog to help local community

Daingean GAA members were inundated with offers of everything from suncream to sandwiches as they footed turf in recent weeks for local people who were unable to get out to the bog.

Club members turned out in force to give back to their community after the club’s fundraising Lotto, which had to go online due to the pandemic, received huge backing.

Having already done shopping and pharmacy runs for people confined to their homes due to Covid-19, the Offaly club decided to offer help with footing turf to elderly and vulnerable people as well as anyone else in need of assistance such as frontline workers.

Club chairman Sammy Keating said many older people relish the chance to get out on the bog so help was provided at whatever level was requested.

“So far, we have just been footing turf but if people want help in getting it home, we will do that too. We have done 11 banks and will probably have two more ready this weekend. That will probably be nearly it.

We are doing it for people who couldn’t manage to get out to the bog. We had between 21 and 33 people out at a time. Our youngest worker was seven and he gave it socks.

Team spirit boost

Sammy said that as well as contributing to the local community, the turf initiative was a great boost for team spirit at a time when teams can’t train or play.

“Daingean was buzzing for the last three weeks and we had people from all over the world getting in contact. People offered all sorts of help and The Gaelic Bar sponsored a bottle of beer for everyone who helped with the turf. Daingean is a small place and everyone got behind us,” said Sammy.

“We got a grant this year from Leader for €167,000 to build a community centre with a gym and kitchen to replace the current clubhouse which was built in 1965. The total cost will be €248,000 and we have a lot of funds gathered up.

“It will be the main amenity in the area and it will be open to all. It won’t be just about GAA but for all community groups for generations to come,” the chairman said.

We need the goodwill of local people and we wanted to show them that it’s not all about take, take, take with us.

“We started out small with the turf footing. We thought we would only do one day but demand was so great we continued. It’s been brilliant. So many people have been in touch to say they’re proud of Daingean,” Sammy said.

The turf footing by the jersey clad members has really helped them to stay connected and other activities have included online table quizzes and social bingo, he said.

“In a small area, you have to have a broad reach. We would never survive as a club if we just sold Lotto tickets to footballers. There has always been a huge element of community togetherness in Daingean.”