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Glenullin's Eagle Glen supermarket a first for the GAA

The new community shop opened in the grounds of Glenullin GAA club in Co Derry. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

A Derry GAA club has taken the concept of community to a whole new level by becoming the first in Ireland to have a supermarket in its grounds.

The opening of the new community-run store at Glenullin GAC was celebrated by giving the first 100 children through the door free ice cream.

The Eagle Glen supermarket takes its name from the translation of Glenullin, the Glen of the Eagle.

It is the first time any GAA club has been involved in such a move.

Denis Heaney (junior), one of the driving forces behind the venture, said while the shop would help the club’s fundraising efforts, its key aim is to help the community.

An isolated townland, Glenullin's nearest shop was previously three miles away.

One of the most forward-thinking clubs in Ireland, Glenullin was the second in Ulster to install floodlights and also boasts a social club and gym.

The new supermarket keeps the club at the very heart of the community.

Mr Heaney said while the shop was based in the club's grounds, the committee which developed it reached far beyond the GAA and reflected the community ownership of the project.

He said: “The idea got up a while ago. I said you know we can supply a tin of beans as cheap here as anywhere else and it took off from there.

"We put a model together and decided Costcutters was the company which best fitted the GAA requirements.”

The Glenullin man said everyone in the parish is proud of the new venture.

“People were saying today they were seeing people they had not seen for months. In the past, you drove to Swatragh or Garvagh or Dungiven for messages but now people were meeting in the shop.”

The new shop, opened last Friday, goes to the heart of the GAA’s community ethos, Mr Heaney said.

“It’s providing work for around 12 people and it’s selling local produce as well as other brands.

"We restored an existing building in the club and all the work was in-house. There’s no-one taking credit for this; all the work was done by club members. If we needed a plumber, one of the boys did it and brought his own materials; it is a real community effort.

“All profits are being ploughed into the community, should that be to help take a bus of pensioners on an outing or to take an underage team to a blitz."

He added: “We’re called the Glen of the Eagles and the eagle owns its own rights and we believe we’re reflecting that; we’re utilising our own energy."

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