File picture: The outdoor handball courts on Michael Stree
The possibility of creating a new monument in Kilkenny to recognise the contribution and rich legacy of the sport of handball here is to be explored by the council.
It follows a proposal by local councillor Joe Malone, who brought a notice of motion to Friday's meeting of Kilkenny City Municipal District, which was seconded by Cllr Martin Brett, and agreed. It read:
'Handball has made an enormous contrubtion to the lives of the people of Kilkenny – both by individual players, teams and clubs. I propose that Kilkenny County Council examine the provision of a suitable monument and location to recognise the positive contribution this sport has made to the lives of the people of Kilkenny City and County'.
Seeking the support of his fellow city councillors, Cllr Malone recalled that when he first arrived in Kilkenny, the ball alleys were regularly packed with people watching and playing.
“That was the first time I ever heard anything about the great Ducksie Walsh, who was only 14 years of age at the time. He went on to greater things then, nationally and internationally," he said.
Cllr Malone said according to his research, the Butts area could account for over 80 All-Ireland medals won.
"I believe it is high time we as council under take a committment to honour the handball fraternity in the city and county. And maybe if we pick three or four people to decide where we would like the monument placed. I'd be hoping it would be in the city," he said.
Cllr Andrew McGuinness said he thought it was a great idea.
“With the success of our hurling monument at the start of the Canal Walk – you see the amount of people getting their pictures taken at it, the respect that is given to it, and the fact that it's a conversation starter and a way to remember all of the fantastic sporting contributions of the hurlers of the past," he said.
"Handball is also a great tradition associated with Kilkenny, and I think something like this would be very worthwhile and an appropriate acknowledgement of all the great handball players we've had in the past, and an encouragement to young people to take up the sport in the future."
Cllr Maria Dollard said she totally supported the motion and said it was timely given the importance of outdoor recreation spaces such as the handball alleys at present.
“Over the course of this pandemic we need to get people out and about more, and use what facilities are there," she said.
"Maybe we could look at rejuvenating the alleys so they are used for sport exclusively and not for any other sort of anti-social behaviour purposes or anything like that.”
Mayor John Coonan said the motion was supported, but suggested liaising with the GAA on the matter.
“I'm sure they would be interested in supporting and furthering ideas - and indeed, might offer financial support as well,” he said.
Director of services Tim Butler said that the motion was to examine the proposal – the feasibility, the location and the cost.
“That's what we will be looking at,” he said.
As the meeting took place online and not physically, the notice of motion cannot be physically adopted as of now. However, it is taken as a recommendation and can be progressed when the group next meet.