Warwickshire GAA could have a new home if relief road plan goes ahead
by Larry Cooney
Warwickshire GAA could be about to begin their last season of playing activity in Pairc na hEireann.
As their Board Chairman Mark McLoughlin addressed the Annual Convention of the GAA Provincial Council of Britain recently, he revealed that Option 1 for plans by the Highways England to build a relief road from the nearby M42 would indeed spell the end of the current headquarters of Warwickshire GAA.
Speaking at St. John’s Hotel in Solihull to over 30 delegates from all over Britain, as well as former MP Chris Ruane, MP for St. Helens and Armagh native Conor McGinn and Ard Stiurthoir Paraic Duffy, McLoughlin also said that it was Warwickshire’s intention to appeal if it comes to pass that Option 1 is the chosen route for the relief road.
Much of that meeting also discussed the GAA’s application for inclusion in Sport England’s future grant funding applications. And while the end of Pairc na hEireann might be considered a blow for Warwickshire GAA’s short-term progress it could also open up an opportunity for Birmingham to locate the first ever GAA Centre of Excellence outside Ireland and also quite ironically not too far from Warwickshire GAA’s current headquarters.
But for now Warwickshire GAA will have to wait until May or June before a decision is likely.
It is also quite ironic that news of the possible end of an era for Warwickshire GAA also coincides with the death of the legendary and long serving Warwickshire GAA official Joe Roarke.
The Westmeath man had played a huge part in both the creation and planning of Pairc na hEireann during his long reign from the time it was opened in October 1989. But it was the work of the Sean McDermott’s members and Cork brothers Noel and Chris McLean who physically oversaw the building of the clubhouse that finally saw Warwickshire GAA own what might soon become its first home for nearly three decades.
Before the establishment of Pairc na hEireann twenty-eight years ago, Warwickshire GAA played its Birmingham fixtures predominantly in a Council playing field in Glebe Farm near Stechford. But despite owning the land for a number of years previously Warwickshire GAA were unable to build on their Catherine-de-Barnes location until all the planning regulations had been satisfied in the late 80s.
However news of the possible closure of Pairc na hEireann will not come as a real surprise to many local GAA activists and supporters. The venue has come under the spotlight previously with planners and there was also a doubt about whether or not the adjoining Sean McDermott’s playing facility would ever get off the ground because of future planning proposals.
But all should be revealed later this summer on whether or not Pairc na hEireann will be consigned to history or not.