Every so often , you have a week that you will remember for the rest of your life, well last Summer Castleblayney had one of those special week sas the people from all around the area met for the Faughs Gathering events. The Faughs Gathering which was a special celebration to mark the fifty year since the Club won the first of its five in a row County titles was something which far exceed the expectations of all involved. It was clear from early in the week that there was something special going on as the local traders windows were festooned with old pictures, memorabilia and the famous green and gold of the Faughs Club, with Flanagans window being declared the winning window by the Faughs Gathering Committee.
The first event on the Faughs Gathering list was the McMahon Centra Summer Camp on Wednesday morning with175 children turning up bright and early with lots of laughter and smiles from both children and coaches. Mark O Connor and Keith Hanratty along with a team of over thirty coaches had developed a plan, which would insure that the children were in for four days of great fun. Friday morning saw the young children participate in the Faughs Olympics for the various age groups while the afternoon session saw the Boys and Girls complete in the Finals of the Street League finals. On Saturday, the children headed off to Monaghan in a cavalcade of buses to go to the Cinema before returning to Castleblayney College for the now famous Faughs Summer BBQ and Faughs Summer Camp presentation.
Thursday night was indeed a very special one as over 300people listened in silence in Iontas Theatre as legends Nudie Hughes and Gerry Fitzpatrick chatted to the infamous Castleblayney Faughs manager and mentor Liam McGrath. Liam recounted how he accidentally started managing the Faughs after being asked to referee a game of football between a group of young footballers from the Crescent. The teams of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were described as ruthless winners who wore the jersey with pride. Liam recalled Gerry Fitzpatrick staying up all night to hack away at a cast which had been put on his broken thumb, so he could play in a county final. Eamon McEneaney described the speeches by Liam McGrath in the dressing rooms that left the players raring to go.
After the interviews with the footballers, Leon Campbell recited his award winning recitation. the audience was treated to a fantastic display from local Faughs from age 6 to16 of Irish music and Irish dancing, all wearing the Faughs jerseys. The Under12 and Under 10 girls and boys sang a song called the Mighty Faughs written by Collette Gallen some years ago. The strong tradition of SCOR in Castleblayney was very evident in the talent of these young people.
After the interval, a presentation of 15 minutes recalled the success of the last 107 years of the Faughs. Many pictures of past and present players were shown and many of those players were in the audience. To follow that, five talented Blayney singers ably supported by band of local young musicians performed a melody of songs, some about Castleblayney and which included a beautiful song about Mullandoy penned by the late Michael Lenagh from Lakeview. They finished up with a rendition of the many Faughs songs which Faughs supporters have sang over the years and the enthusiastic audience sang with them. It was a night of great nostalgia and great memories which will be cherished by Faughs people, old and new. MC Joe Hanratty thanked the Iontas, Cha Lynch and the committee of the Cultural night for all their hard work in putting the night together.
Friday morning saw the Gathering move to the beautiful surroundings of Concra Wood Golf as packed time sheet played in the Faughs Open in memory of former Faughs great and Castleblayney Golf Club favorite, Maurice Hanratty. “Mau” as he was affectionately known by his golf and footballing friends won 5 senior championship medals with his beloved Faughs before taking up golf in 1990 after undergoing a serious heart operation. Maurice would have been proud of handing over the cup to one of his old neighbours from Muckno Street as young Michael Mc Hugh laid claim to the title, with a fantastic score of 41points playing of a handicap of 4.The Club house was full to the rafters as Joe Hanratty presented the Cup on behalf of the Hanratty Family with other prizes on the day, sponsored by Heineken Ireland and Mc Elroy Trophies and Signage.
Saturday evening saw the doors of the Glencarn open for the Faughs Gala Ball which was a special event to celebrate the 50thanniversary of the Five in a row team, in what proved to be a night that will go down in the folklore of Castleblayney ,the five in a row team were presented with a commemorative medal from Director General Paraic Duffy. The packed house listen to Club Chairperson Stephen Dignam recall tales from the “Past, Present and Future” of the Club while Paraic told us tales of what it was like to grow up in Castleblayney during the famous five in a row era. People chatted, danced and sang the night way as people from Castleblayney who live all over the Globe caught up with each other for a few hours, as one guest described the event as “The Faughs Gathering is like a great Castleblayney wedding where the whole town is invited “
Castleblayney Faughs Chairperson Stephen Dignam was delighted with the success of the event, “The whole ambition from the start was to create a Faughs Gathering which would entice people from all round the Globe to return to Castleblayney for a few days so they could catch up withfamily friends and the Faughs club people, I can safely say that we achieve that ambition. Everybody in the town can feel very proud of what they have achieved, I have no doubt people will be talking about this weekend for many years to come, as Chairperson I would just like to thank everyone young and old who have been involved or attended the events during the week”.
Well done to the huge team involved for what was truly a remarkable few days.