There has always been a strong Irish presence in North London, particularly in Camden and Islington, and there has been a GAA presence here over many years. After Holloway Gaels GFC ceased to exist some years ago, there was a large football-shaped void left amongst the Irish community in this part of London.
A group of former Gaels players, who had only played football at underage level, got together under the direction of Luke Callinan, a London-born Irishman with strong Clare roots, and began to have a weekly ‘kick-about’ in Finsbury Park. They soon realised the appetite for something more structured, and the potential a new club would have so they approached Gary Dunne, a Laois man based at the London Irish Centre, for help and advice.
Over some months, the club gradually began to take shape, with the addition of Islington-based Armagh man, Conor McGinn, and an experienced GAA administrator, Paddy Corbett from Burrishoole Mayo, to the steering group. The core group of players – whose ambition and determination drove the project – diligently trained every week in Finsbury Park, in anticipation of being part of something new and special, and that finally came to fruition when Éire Óg CLG registered with the London GAA County Board in February 2011.
Club President Conor McGinn, explained how the name Éire Óg, was chosen: “We had gone through several different options but none seemed to be hitting the mark. Then we thought about why we were doing this and what we wanted to achieve. Éire Óg, meaning ‘Young Ireland’, was originally the name for the group of men who were the early instigators of a cultural revival and awakening of national consciousness that was about pride in Ireland and Irishness.
Rooted in that ‘Young Irelanders’ tradition, we also thought about the ‘Young Irish’ of today and the fact that we wanted our club to be a home for them, whether they are the young Irish men and women who are emigrating or those young second generation Irish who have been born here in London and want to express their identity through our national games. So Éire Óg sums up who we are and what we are about.”
Our motto “Is fiú agus is féidir”, which we translate as “It is worth doing and it can be done”. It speaks for itself.
The club made another piece of history in 2014 when it formed a partnership with Holloway Gaels Ladies Football Club and Finsbury Park Rugby Club to find a home for the three clubs. Our original vision was to refurbish the pitch in Finsbury Park, this was quickly ruled out due to structural damage to the pitch. We met with Haringey Council and outlined our vision for promoting and developing Gaelic Football in the borough. We soon established that Downhills Park was unused and had changing rooms that were boarded up.
We received permission from Haringey Council and the Friends of Downhills Park to install a Gaelic football and Rugby pitch in the park. We installed the football posts in July 2014.
The next phase of the project was to renovate the changing rooms. With the help of members and contractors associated with the three clubs we upgraded the facilities and held our official opening in June 2015. The official opening was a key milestone in the club’s short history.
Our vision is to promote Gaelic Football in the local community, schools and borough.