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Clare GAA clubs going above and beyond during COVID-19 pandemic

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*Aileen Broderick, Éire Óg assistant secretary, and Antoinette Loftus volunteering during the Covid-19 crisis.

In times like these, it important for certain pillars within the community to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Members of GAA clubs right across Co Clare have gone above and beyond the call of duty during these unprecedented times in lending a helping hand in a number of ways.

Much like the aggressive clinch before a throw in, clubs within the community have thrust themselves into turmoil, rallying their troops and pledging their allegiance in assisting the elderly with shopping, co-ordinating with local supermarkets as well as hosting online activities to tackle the woes of isolation.

The Clare Echo spoke to a number of clubs right across the county who have been answering the call from their community.

Éire Óg Ennis
On March 12th, the closure of all schools, colleges and cultural institutions within the state was announced. The club put out its own word shortly after, appealing to club members to form a volunteer group that could help those restricted due to the outbreak of Covid-19, tells Public Relations Officer, Assumpta Hehir. Éire Óg offers assistance with shopping, the collection of prescriptions and any other viable day to day tasks that may arise.

On the volunteers and their duties, Assumpta admits, “We have 50 in the group at the moment and are still taking volunteer names. Requests have started to pick up in the last week with increased restrictions and with word getting around. So far, we are picking and dropping newspapers, doing shopping trips, helping with meals, collecting prescriptions from chemist and some members have been working with the post office to collect pensions. The volunteer group is made up of current and former members.”

The connection between the GAA and the community has always been robust and intimate and now is a time where reciprocation is at its strongest. “GAA clubs are community led organisations and this is evident in the response we and other clubs received from members to this volunteer appeal. As a club, Éire Óg are proud to be able to help where we can and to reach out not only to our members but to the vulnerable in our community. We have always been supported by the wider community, whether for our club lotto or flag days and now we are giving back off the field.”

The majority of the calls that the club has received are elderly individuals cocooning in line with recently implemented recommendations. The club have been communicating to the public through social media, email, webpages as well as local papers and radios. Affiliations with the Gardai, local shops and Clare County Council have strengthened the club’s efforts within the town also. Letters were dropped into houses of elderly neighbours who may not be in touch with modern technology.

“We would urge the young and old in the community to listen to the official guidelines and recommendations issued by the Government and HSE. It is a very challenging time for all, use the trusted supports that are in place to get the assistance you need. “

For further help and information contact, Kevin Brennan:086-3979788 or Assumpta Hehir:085-8795475.

Crusheen GAA
The quick acting and thoughtful thinking club of Crusheen GAA have put the heart of the community before all else. Like so many other organisations within this trying time, Crusheen GAA has its very own role to play, tells Chairperson Michael O’ Connor. They have exuded delight at their place within local authority hubs for the parishes in the North Clare area, organised by Clare County Council and are ready and able to play their part in the community as the largest voluntary body in Crusheen and Ballinruan.

“From the commencement of this crisis our GAA club and our facilities were open as per HSE guidelines for members of the community to use and we saw a huge surge in outdoor exercise being carried out on the club walking track. This ended when the current restrictions were upgraded to flatten the curve and enhance more recognition in the motif, less is more.”

Michael outlines that during the crisis, Crusheen volunteers are at the disposable of the community and are willing to offer support in the form of assisting with groceries, prescriptions and whatever else is necessary.

“We need to support each other through this difficult time. As this crisis looks like running deep into the summertime the GAA club are planning on running online events to keep up the morale of our community. This will include fitness classes online for the teams and the community and social online events. We would actively encourage our members to be creative even with the restrictions in place to stay active and contact their neighbours especially those who might be living on their own.”

Contact Diarmaid 0851472067, Orla 0864038022 or any committee member and Crusheen GAA will do their best to help.

Ennistymon GAA
Local councillor Shane Talty (FF) has been accredited with most of the community work being carried out by Ennistymon GAA. Speaking to The Clare Echo, he tells of the acts of faith taking place in a time of desperate need, whereby the club has offered to assist those that require help with the collection or delivery of essential food items, fuel and medication.

“The efforts are made up of dozens of members, adult players, parents, coaches and administrators have offered to partake in the community led response. These are club members, but we have worked with many other clubs and voluntary organisations in the region to deliver a coordinated response through the dedicated phone and administrative support of the North West Clare Family Resource Centre. All of our volunteers will have been vetted and fully insured.”

Cllr Talty admits that the club takes great pride in giving back to the elderly members of the community who have shown their support throughout the years. He outlines that this is seen as a vital opportunity for the club to show its commitment to the broader community, resulting in robust response structures that have been put in place locally, with numerous deliveries already taking place for elderly individuals within the community.

“As yet the numbers reaching out are few but we anticipate a broad range of people from the elderly to the younger generations in self isolation to look for support. We are ready to respond and want to help protect everyone in our community.”

Ennistymon GAA can be contacted at 065 7071144.

Tulla GAA
Tulla GAA have not faltered on the frontline, offering to help with any grocery or pharmacy runs within the community, tells club secretary Damien Noonan. Mr. Noonan tells of a voluntary force of up to twenty people on hand, if and when needed. These are all members who are heavily involved in the club, whether they are training teams or are currently players themselves.

On the genesis of the goodwill gestures, Damien recalls, “We put up the call on the club Facebook page and there was an immediate response from people and they were all very anxious to help themselves. Even at that time, a lot of people had started to work from home and it wasn’t a big issue for people as they had the time and they were very willing to get involved in it too.”

Damien affirms of the time the older generation have given to the club throughout the years, highlighting their importance within the community even if their commitment had fallen away in recent years. Now is the time that the club and its constituents have been called upon, to give back to these very people.

“There are notices and signs put out in the local shops now, and that’s important to do because maybe the older people might not have access to Facebook. It’s important to make sure that everyone is aware of it. It will reach everybody, but its up to individuals then to make that important phone call to us.”

Damien urges the local community to stick together and help each other out, as he feels that this isn’t going to disappear overnight, subsequently affecting everyone’s lives.

Tulla GAA are affiliated with their local Supervalu and any requests that are made to the shop will automatically be registered to the club, who will assist in any way necessary.

Clonlara GAA
Clonlara GAA. Medication, the collection of groceries and fuel deliveries are some of the many services being offered by the Clonlara GAA club in South East Clare, tells Secretary Therese McMahon.

The club have linked with Supervalu in Corbally, with sixteen volunteers on hand to help out. Therese commends the work of her excellent PRO Jennifer Stritch who put out the message by text and social media, calling on all available volunteers.

“In times like these, everyone is coming up trump. Despite being in place the last few weeks, our services within the community have only really taken off with the recent measures and the cocooning of the elderly. We have assigned days for helping out and we rotate shifts with Parteen GAA, some days we deliver to them and other days they deliver to our community.”

Therese hopes that everyone stays safe and wants the community to know that their services are available when they need it.

An avid reader from a young age, Cian’s love of the archives has been shared by Clare Echo readers who enjoy his Reeling in The Years section. Charles Dickens, Terry Pratchett and Michael Crichton were his favourites writers in his younger years while he was always a fan of studying the opinion columns in The Irish Independent. A past pupil of Lissycasey National School and St Flannan’s College, he is currently completing his final year studies at the University of Limerick in New Media and English. From September, he will be commencing a Masters Degree in Journalism at UL.

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