What will the GAA do with its new 50ac farm?

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) intends to grow maize on its new 50ac farm purchased for the princely sum of approximately €700,000.

Yesterday (Wednesday, January 31) it emerged that the GAA had invested in the holding located in Naul, north Co. Dublin.

It is understood that the farm will be used first and foremost for grass and turf to replace the current pitch in Croke Park.

Commenting on the acquisition, a GAA spokesman confirmed that the 50ac farm was secured, adding that the association will be preparing the land over the coming weeks.

Initial jobs will entail cutting back hedges, clearing dykes, plus adding in drainage, a well and irrigation sprinklers. The land will then be sprayed, tilled and seeded.

“It’s our intention to sow the balance 40 acres in maize,” the spokesperson told AgriLand.

We have never done this before but the need became more pressing – or more attractive – last year after the concerts we staged here.

In 2017 world-famous bands including U2 and Coldplay held jam-packed concerts on the hallowed sportsground; while American rocker Bruce Springsteen and superstar Beyonce held major sell-out shows at ‘Croker’ in 2016.

With further major concerts planned for 2018, and concerns raised over the impact of such shows on the pitch, the GAA has decided to act.

Although the GAA normally imports turf from England; it is understood that this has become a challenging process – leading the association to assess other options.

Aside from Croke Park, there are other stadia and grounds which could benefit from the organisation’s newly-purchased land – as well as the possibility of supplying other venues elsewhere, the spokesman commented.

Strong rural links

The close connections between the GAA, rural Ireland and farming was highlighted this week by legendary All-Ireland winning football manager, commentator and author Eugene McGee.

While commenting on this Saturday’s All-Ireland Junior Club Championship Final – between Multyfarnham (Co. Westmeath) and Knocknagree (Co. Cork) – McGee expressed strong feelings on the matter.

He said: “Rural Ireland is carried by the GAA. All the other long-standing rural organisations like Macra na Feirme and the Irish Countrywomen’s Association don’t have the presence they once had in rural areas.

“The agricultural college [in Multyfarnham] was once central to the community; now the GAA has put Multyfarnham back on the map,” he said.