Bryansford GAC to hold fundraising family fun day in memory of members Ruth Maguire, Marty Patterson and Shane McAnallen
THE lives of a mother-of-three and two best friends, killed in separate accidents over St Patrick's Day weekend, will be celebrated in a massive day-long fundraising drive by their GAA club.
Ruth Maguire's fiancé Jim Griffin suggested Bryansford GAC hold the family fun day in Newcastle, Co Down to raise vital funds for rescue charities in the area.
The body of Ms Maguire, a juvenile coach with the club, was recovered from Carlingford Lough, Co Louth on Monday March 18, a day after she went missing during a hen night in the village.
It followed an extensive cross-border multi-agency search operation involving the Irish Coastguard, Belfast Coastguard, Kilkeel lifeboat and Newcastle RNLI as well as Mourne Mountain Rescue.
Shane McAnallen and Martin Patterson, both aged in their in their 20s, died in a single vehicle crash on the R173 road near Carlingford, Co Louth, in the early hours of that Monday.
A long-time member of the club, Mr Patterson had played for Bryansford the previous season and Mr McAnallen had been played in its youth set up.
The event on Saturday May 25 at St Patrick's Park on Castlewellan Road, which begins with a children's football blitz at 10.30am, will donate money raised to Newcastle RNLI, the Mourne Mountain rescue Team, the Search and Rescue Dog Association and Air Ambulance NI.
Juvenile coaching development officer Benji Ward said the club had approached Mr Griffin, who like Ms Maguire were both originally from Belfast, to see what support it could offer him and children Tyler, Lydia and Oliver.
"He said he didn't want anything but would love to try and raise a bit of money for the people who found her...and would Bryansford use our facilities to get something going."
That idea has grown into a cross-community, family-friendly event. There will be face painting and gymnastic display, as well as sporting and fun challenges and a barbecue.
In added poignancy, the musician who was to have performed at Ruth and Jim's August wedding will be playing, as will local bands keen to show their support.
Friends of Mr Patterson and Mr McAnallen have organised a vintage car rally and a Harley Davidson group is hoping to bring their machines for motorcycle enthusiasts.
The seaside town is buzzing with excitement, people walking up to Mr Ward as he stands in the street to give him bottles of spirits for the evening raffle and the nearby school opening its car park for visitors.
"Jim is delighted," Mr Ward said.
"He's bring a 50-seater and coming down from Ligoniel on the day. If we take Ruth's energy and her will and her enthusiasm and put it into this fundraiser it will be a send off and a memory on her behalf."