(Photos to be added when I find them in attic search!!!!)
The Walkinstown Sports Day was such a date in our calendar! In Mary’s Park we trained for sprints up and down the side of the “park” and the edge of the green provided the “distance” markings for the longer races which we ran in laps. The green itself became the centre for field events which in those days was either the long or the high jump… it wasn’t until much later that the throwing of things (javelins and shots, etc) was introduced! The older kids (those who were 10 and 11) were the starters and adjudicators and the integrity that was required of them would not be out of place in the real world today! There were often complaints and objections but they were usually dismissed immediately to allow training resume!
The SPORTS DAY dawned and a car drove around the area announcing events, starting times and “added” attractions (an Ice Cream van was the usual addition!) Bunting Road Green was the site for the SPORTS and in an era when we saw little official racing on TV this “lined out” arena surrounded by a huge crowd of athletes in motley sports gear and their spectating parents caused great excitement. We walked around intently examining the starting points for various races, commenting on distances as if we were experts, and checking out the opposition.
The megaphone announcements of the real races as well as the novelty races was listened to with such attention….it would be DISASTER to MISS your heat. Nor could you miss the race of your best friend or a family member. We screamed all onto victory. Decisions were made about the viability of wearing runners or going barefoot. Presentation of medals (or packets of sweets to the also rans) by Mr Connolly or Mr Bermingham (everyone over 25 was Mr or Mrs then) was cheered loudly.
And then OUR Joe Connolly and Walkinstown were at the cutting edge of the establishment of The Community Games. Joe, an ordinary but inspiring man mobilised a handful of adults who then came together and formed a committee to address the lack of sporting and leisure activities for young people in 1960’s Dublin.
We never saw the big “social” picture. For us it meant an extension to SPORTS DAY and an added prize of knowing someone who might progress to represent their area and even their county. The first Dublin Finals took place in August 1968 with 3,000 young people from 24 community areas participating. However it was in ***** when Jim and Carmel garbed in maroon blazers and white shorts paraded proudly through the streets of Dublin that our hearts swelled with pride, a pride that neither Ronnie Delaney nor Sonia O’Sullivan ever inspired.
As family photographer for all events I surged forward to capture the pair of Olympians on camera. For many years after the Community Games in our house was known as the Mini Olympics, a sign of the esteem in which they were held!!!
Many years later my own lad paraded around Mosney as a Kildare representative lifting Bronze and Silver medals and I managed a badminton team with Jean Kennedy that took home Gold.
Opening and closing Parade, Community Games, August 1991
I must climb into the attic one of these days and find more of the photos and programmes and medals that commemorate the fond memories of this childhood rite of passage, the excitement of activities with friends on Summer days when the sun “always shone”
Community Games County Pledge
We the children of Dublin pledge ourselves to the ideals of the Community Games in a spirit of friendly rivalry. We will strive to participate with honest endeavour. Our aim will not be victory at any price but we will genuinely seek to unite our community in friendly sporting competition. By competing fairly and honestly, we the children of Dublin will attempt to make our county a happier place in which to live.
Sé aidhm na gCluichí Phóbail cairdeas fearúlacht agus cothrom na féinne a chothú agus a mhúnlú i measc an phobail uilig. Dearbhaimidine paistí Condae Atha Cliath, go ndéanfaimid ár ndícheall a bheith dílis do ídealacha na gCluichí Phobail. Cé gur mhian linn go léir an chraobh a bhaint amach,mar sin féin tuigfimid gur tábhachtaí go mór spiorad coir, macánta ionraic a chothú tríd na gcluichí seo. Measaimid-ne má éiríonn linn cuspóir na gCluichí seo a bhaint amach gur sásta agus gur aontaíthe an pobal a bheidh again uilig in ár gceanntair féin, in ár gcathair féin agus in ár mbailte féin, in ár gCondaethe féin. Ní neart cur le chéile.
Many famous Irish people have competed in the games over the years and have very fond memories of the Community Games.
“I always enjoyed the Community Games in Cobh with my school friends and then the trip to Cork for the county finals. The ultimate though was heading off on the train to Mosney for the all-Ireland finals, I remember and still have my little accreditation pass, just like what you get in the Olympics for access to all you need and the big book with all the results from years gone by. That’s where I set my early targets and goals for future years, by looking up athletes I knew and the times they ran at the Community Games finals each year before me”. Sonia O’Sullivan, May 2013