Battling for the Community Games

A lovely young lady, Paula Holohan, who lives in Grovine, is looking for a dig out with a project she passionately believes in, which, historically, has been of enormous benefit to thousands of children nationwide.

A lovely young lady, Paula Holohan, who lives in Grovine, is looking for a dig out with a project she passionately believes in, which, historically, has been of enormous benefit to thousands of children nationwide.

However, it has been experiencing a little slippage in recent years. It is that great promotions event, Community Games.

Community Games by its very nature is about community. It involves a huge amount of children, and a huge number of workers. Invariably the life-span of competitors and workers is about the same. Parents get involved through their children. They enter and leave together.

There are tremendous people involved in Community Games, but the workforce has dwindled. The interest has waned in places, while it has remained very strong in other pockets around the county like in Tullogher, Rosbercon, Graignamanagh, Skeoughvosteen, Lisdowney and Ballyraggett. Paula got involved some 12 months ago with another mother, Ann Byrne.

“I really didn’t know too many people, but eventually we all became a big, happy family,” she explained of her introduction to the ’Games. “We have a very rewarding get together whenever we meet. It is great craic really. Her son is into athletics while I am a graphic designer by profession, so I would be interested in the art section.

“We help each others children, and that is very fulfilling,” she smiled.

Laura’s friend Ann is from Loughboy. She is the treasurer of the St Patricks Community Games club, whilst Laura is secretary. Laura felt the interest in Kilkenny City had diminished. Why?

“There is huge competition for children’s time,” she felt. “They like to be involved in every denomination of sporting activity and there is no shortage of sporting disciplines in this city. Hurling is hugely popular. Every child wants to be a D.J. Carey or Henry Shefflin.

“There is a vibrant athletics culture here as well, and they have captured the minds of the children too. There isn’t a thing wrong with that. We as a Community Games have to compete with those other organisations, so it is a battle.”

Paula outlined the diciplines in Community Games. There are the usual running, jumping, bumping, track and field events. There are hurling and soccer games, handball, Gaelic football and many more.

There are competitions for the more unusual ones like art, hand writing, model making, recitation, sewing, dancing, and debating. What format does qualification for the national finals follow?

“We have a local competition first, which moves forward to county finals, “ she explained. “It is then on to regional finals before things finish with the All-Ireland competitions. This year the All-Ireland finals were in the Athlone IT complex over two weekends in August.”

Paula introduced us to Cathriona Reynolds, the National Integration Officer and the National Children’s Officer for Community Games. She was down to help create a greater awareness of the Games among people in Kilkenny City.

“We want to try and strengthen the County Executive Committee, and show solidarity with them,” Cathriona explained. “Then we intend putting strong work into developing more pockets of involvement through the county, and especially in the city.”

So there you have it, people of Kilkenny City! Help is needed to maintain the high standards of yesteryear in the Games. People like Laura and Ann need your help for starters.