GAA Football

Clann na Banna win 'Best Development Initiative Award' at Irish News SCV Awards for cross-community Irish culture events in Banbridge

Barney Campbell, Emma Loughran and Fran McElvoy of Clann na Banna are presented the award for Best Development Initiative at the Irish News School, Club & Volunteer Awards by Martina Madden of O’Neills Sportswear.
Diarmuid Pepper

Clann na Banna, Banbridge, walked away winners of the Best Development Initiative at the Irish News School, Club & Volunteer Awards. Martina Madden of O’Neills Sportswear presented them with the award.

Emma Loughlin, cultural officer of Clann na Banna, spoke with the Irish News after her club’s win.

Speaking of her club’s victory, she said: “We put forth an Irish culture initiative. Banbridge have really only jumped on to the bandwagon in the past few years. But we launched a cultural Easter camp where we had 40 kids and everything snowballed from then.”

Ever since, the club’s cultural scene has been thriving: “We have now got Irish classes, music classes every Tuesday night, all for adults and children. Over 80 children participated in our Easter camp this year. We also participated in Scór na Óg. We entered 17 kids for the first time ever in Clann na Banna history, and we won most improved club of the year.”

“So our culture initiatives are really taking a whole new turn in the Banbridge area, especially for ourselves in the GAA, because we always seem to be hanging off the coat tails of soccer and rugby; now is our time to shine. But hopefully next year we will have a few new initiatives coming up, and indeed, the only way is up.”

Clann na Banna have also been doing stellar work in reaching out to the other side of the community. Emma said: “I think we won because of our cross-community events. We have some pupils in our adult Irish classes who are from a protestant community, and we also have children in our musical classes from a Polish community. That was a really big thing for us in Banbridge, to open up to the community.”

Emma paid homage to the work of the committee, who help bring all of these ideas to life: “We wouldn’t get to where we are today if it wasn’t for our committee, with Fran and Barney and Mandy. Without them mentoring, we wouldn’t be able to take all the kids we have on, so it’s been great.”

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