I congratulate the Peadar Ó’Doírnín Club on the provision of this excellent Clubrooms.  I am sure that the whole community owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Officers and Committee.  They have given very generously of their time and their talents to make this day possible.  I know that people appreciate the achievement.

I know that this has been a total Club effort but the Chairman, Mickey Treanor deserves a huge amount of praise and credit.  I understand he was ably assisted by Bernard Boyle. 

The idea goes back to 2000.  To Forkhill -The Cold Wood – previous home to Armagh’s fourth oldest Gaelic Athletic Club – has now become a warm welcoming place for young and old. 

I am pleased to have been invited here today to call down God’s blessing on these splendid new Clubrooms of Cumann Peadar Ó Doírnín Luthchleas Gael, Forkhill.

It is a particular pleasure to have Uactaráin Cllg – Nioclás Ó Braonáin here on this occasion.  I also join in welcoming him to this diocese and to County Armagh.  I am also delighted to see ar Uactaráin Peter Quinn- ar Uactaráin Cumann Luth Cleasgael

I am delighted that the Club has asked the blessing of Almighty God.  It is a sign of wisdom and goodness.  When we pronounce a blessing on a Clubroom we do two things:

1.    We praise God for the people who provided the facilities and those who will use these clubrooms, and
2.    We ask God’s loving care on them.

A blessing will not change the clubrooms.  We are asking God to care for the people who use this space and who will use it for God’s greater honour and glory.  We praise God for the people who have worked so hard to provide these facilities.  We pray that the people who use these facilities will respect the property and the character of this place and ensure that it is used in keeping with the ethos and ideals of the Association.

It is not often we find a Club named after a poet or teacher.  Peadar Ó Doírnín was both.  It is a sign of the sensitivity to the values of knowledge and poetry that the people of this community esteem their native son so highly and wish to perpetuate his memory in this very appropriate way.

The location is significant.  A parish near the Gap of the North – associated with both Cuchullian and St. Brigid.  The new peace monument is going to be built nearby.  The Spirit of Cuchullian has brought a lot of pain and sorrow to many families on this island.  The Spirit whom St. Brigid worshipped brought healing and joy and peace.

The GAA with its high emphasis on nobility of conduct and fair play and generosity of spirit is playing, and continues to play, its part in healing the wounds of the past.  A Club, dedicated to the memory of a teacher and an artist, is well placed to be in the forefront of those who wish for a lasting peace.

Can I explain three hopes for this Club and Clubrooms:

There used to be a line or tune which said:  “It matters not who won or lost but how you played the game”.  That philosophy seems to have slipped away in many quarters in recent times.  Now one gets the impression that winning is everything.  Do the business – that is all that appears to matter.  A Club, dedicated to a teacher and a poet, might just be the place to revisit the proposition that how you played the game does matter, and matters a lot.

Secondly, a Club bar seems to be a sine qua non – the indispensable part of every Club nowadays.  Some say money is the root of all evil. 

I heard a BBC commentator say “The Muslims see alcohol as the root of Allie!  Social life is an important action but I hope that this Club, and every Club, will do its best to ensure that vulnerable young people are not damaged seriously through abusive consumption of alcohol on Club premises.  I have every confidence that this Club will put their minds to this and achieve it. 

My third hope is that this Club house, perched here in the Gap of the North, will do all it can to take the bushes out of the Gap and make it a place of welcome and friendship for all – no mater what their politics or religion, their race or their colour.  In other words, a place of peace.  Genuine peace is built on good relationships with one and all – Kilt and Kin – but rival and competitors – are relationships built on respect.
In the Blessing we asked God’s loving care on all who come here.  That would imply, in my opinion, that those with power to do so, officials and administrators, would respect the fact that Club members and players and officials have relationships with their families and their faith – community.  For those relationships to survive and flourish they will need sacred spaces for time and places which should not be invaded.  In other words, time for weekly worship and family festivities.  These also are deserving of their time and place.  They are the pillars of every secure society.