Naomh Mairtin GAA Club - Home Sweet Home

November 7, 2018

Home Sweet Home

Today Naomh Mairtin has a home pitch and dressing rooms which would rival those of any other club in the county. This wasn’t always the case though, and for years, until 1964 in fact, the club had no home to call its own.

Before our current grounds were developed, Naomh Mairtin had to play their home games at a number of different venues, including the Post Office field, Cooney’s field at the Red Gap and McDonnell’s field in Priesttown, while they trained at the field opposite the Post Office known as the ‘Go Karting Track’.

However, in 1964 the club decided to acquire a permanent playing pitch. With this in mind, a grounds committee was formed and three trustees were appointed. They were: Raymond Finnegan from Mullary, Paddy Meade from Foxhall and Paddy McDonnell from Priesttown. The other committee members were Rev Kevin Moran, Rev Fr Hamill, D McKeon, John Mullen, Paddy McCullough, O Lambe, Jim Mooney, Hugh Russell, Paddy Usher, Tony Winters, Frank Devin, Patsy Maguire, Paddy Devin, Paddy Briscoe, Eamonn Briscoe, Peter McCullough, Sean Hoey, Gerard Fahy, Vince Brennan, John Finnegan, Paddy Mullen and James Callaghan.

The Post Office field was the first site considered, but it would have proved too costly to develop as it had a very rocky surface.

Then the attention turned to a piece of land beside the Monasterboice Inn known as the ‘Ball Alley Field’. An agreement was reached to carry out the work with Paddy Donegan and work commenced in 1966 to level and drain the field. The contract was given to Seamus Pentony of Grangebellew.

In 1969, after five years of planning, negotiations and construction, Naomh Mairtin’s spiritual home was ready. On May 25 St Boice’s Park was officially opened by Paddy Donegan, Honorary Secretary Peadar Kearney and Honorary Chairman of the Louth County Board Sean Murray, on what was a proud day for the club and the parish.

The grounds were blessed by Parish Priest Rev Fr Bennett, assisted by Rev Kevin Moran CC and Rev Fr Hamill CC.

To mark the day, the Naomh Mairtin team of 1959 played the 1969 team in a keenly contested challenge match, which the younger side won by a solitary point.

Gate receipts from the opening day and the social in the AOH Hall that followed raised enough money to cover all expenses and the building of the dressing rooms at the field.

In wasn’t until November1 1971, however, that the actual legal title deeds were signed by the three grounds committee trustees and Paddy Donegan.

The work of all the committee members, many of whom are now deceased, in providing this field for the club, paved the way for the future development and ensured that the people of the parish will have a place to gather and share in the club’s success for generations to come.

Tony Lynn recalls how the clubhouse has developed from a small timber barna building in the 1960s to the modern facility of today. Present day facilities at Boice Park include two fully developed and flood lit playing pitches, the second of which was added in 2001.

These pitches enable all members of the club to train and play matches in all weather conditions and even when the darkness descends.

Even if football isn’t your thing, Naomh Mairtin caters for a host of other interests. The tennis courts adjacent to the clubhouse are ideal for any budding Roger Federer or Venus Williams to hone their skills, while badminton can be played inside in the hall.

Monasterboice Drama Group also uses the hall to rehearse for and perform plays on a regular basis. This provides some comic relief when events on the pitch are far from entertaining. Other groups to use the hall include the ICA, the Brownies and Irish dancing classes.

The hall and dressing rooms are also unrecognisable from the building of the 1960s. Today’s facilities include modern dressing rooms and shower facilities, a number of meeting rooms and a fully equipped gymnasium.

In recent years much of this development has taken place thanks to help from grants from various sources including the Government Sports Capital Grant. But in earlier years, the essential development only came about with the help of the local community. Events such as fancy fairs, poker classics, golf classics and race nights were organised to raise money for development.