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Personalities

Seamus Heaney (1939 - 2013)

Seamus Heany 3.jpg The Passing of a Giant The GAA has always been about Irish culture as much as it has about men pucking balls around a field, and so it would be deeply remiss of us here not to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of a true giant of the Land of Saints & Scholars. And so, it was with a heavy heart that I read of the death of the Seamus Heaney this morning. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, Heaney – more than any other artist in recent times – captured the quiet wholesomeness of rural Ireland, as in his Mossbawn collection. This is a world in which the GAA has always had a role to play, helping to knit communities together and fomenting a camaraderie and sense of place that can be seen in every parish and townland throughout the country. Born in the same year as the founding of his local club St. Malachy’s GAC, Castledawson, Heaney was an unspectacular player, but encapsulated all that is best in the club spirit of GAA upon his relocation to Bellaghy. As a boy of only 14, he could have been forgiven for wishing to establish roots with the club of his new home, but instead he remained loyal to the club into which he was born, saying in the book “Stepping Stones” “I had no affection for the Bellaghy GAA team: I was a natural supporter of Castledawson and continued to play for the Castledawson minor team even after we moved”. The St. Malachy’s website lists Heaney amongst their greatest sons, and has this to say about him: “Seamus was born in Broagh, Castledawson, in the same year as our club was formed. The house and farmland now have new occupants. Local residents will pinpoint the homestead as adjoining Hillhead Hall on the Toome road. We are proud to have had Seamus play minor football for our club. He began his education at Annarhorish primary school then on to St Columb’s in Derry and then Queen’s University Belfast. Seamus is a nephew of one of our most famous sons, the late Matt ‘Sonny’ McCann. He spent much of his younger days in and around Castledawson. Barney and Frank Devlin, both club members, who for years produced and directed a successful dramatic society in Bellaghy and Castledawson and numbered Seamus Heaney as a talent in their group. As a young man his performances, even then, showed that Seamus’ interested lay in literature, not in football. Our gratitude and thanks are also due to Seamus because in his poetry and writing he helped us understand that the outside world is not outside, but instead what we are made of. Seamus we are proud to include you with our founders, players and members past and present and extend to you our congratulations on being awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature.”

Seamus Heaney

seamus_heaney.jpg Seamus was born in Broagh, Castledawson, in the same year as our club was formed. The house and farmland now have new occupants. Local residents will pinpoint the homestead as adjoining Hillhead Hall on the Toome road. We are proud to have had Seamus play minor football for our club. He began his education at Annarhorish primary school then on to St Columb’s in Derry and then Queen’s University Belfast.

Seamus is a nephew of one of our most famous sons, the late Matt ‘Sonny’ McCann. He spent much of his younger days in and around Castledawson. Barney and Frank Devlin, both club members, who for years produced and directed a sucessful dramatic society in Bellaghy and Castledawson and numbered Seamus Heaney as a talent in their group. As a young man his performances, even then, showed that Seamus’ interested lay in literature, not in football. Our gratitude and thanks are also due to Seamus because in his poetry and writing he helped us understand that the outside world is not outside, but instead what we are made of.

Seamus we are proud to include you with our founders, players and members past and present and extend to you our congratulations on being awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Seamus Gribbin

Seamuss.jpg SEAMUS GRIBBIN : 1946 - 2014 Seamus Gribbin lived by the values of family, community, sport, culture and faith. A keen observer of life, he was grounded in his world and committed to showing good example. As a footballer for Derry and Castledawson he didn't give an inch - or indeed a putt on Moyola golf course. His opinions were always straight from the heart, but framed by a positive outlook and aimed at encouraging improvement. A family man, he also made an enormous contribution to community life in Castledawson and in the wider south Derry area. He was a mentor for younger generations and spent many an evening passing on his wisdom to the youth of the area. Born in 1946, Seamus was one of 12 children raised in the Broagh area and educated at New Row School in Castledawson. His love for the GAA was quickly evident to all who watched him at the 'Sally Anne' playing field along the banks of the Moyola. He would become a guiding light of the local St Malachy’s club, playing on all teams from his early teens until well into his forties. Although for many years the senior team struggled to make an impact, Seamus’s enthusiasm was unabated and he eventually played in several finals and semi-finals. One of his few great regrets was being denied the ultimate prize when Castledawson lost to Dungiven by a single point in the senior decider in the GAA’s centenary year, 1984. However, with the Derry team he won three successive McKenna Cup titles from 1969-71. A commanding figure at centre-field and half back, his greatest moment came in 1970 with the Oak Leaf county’s second ever Ulster Senior Championship, after a 2-13 to 1-12 victory over Antrim. After his playing days, Seamus invested time and skill into developing the club in a multitude of ways. He did plenty of manual work on the grounds as well as serving as secretary and later club chairman and trustee. Outside of the GAA, Seamus represented Moyola Park Golf Club in the Ulster Cup, the Pierce Purcell Cup and in the Seniors, and was honoured to be club captain in 1995. He married Jane on Easter Monday 1973. A life-long pioneer, he was proud that his four children, Conor, Michael, Paul and Sarah, followed his example. He was a doting grandfather-of-five. Seamus worked for Scotts in Toome as a lorry driver for 42 years before retiring in 2011. Typical of the man, he continued to contribute to his community and served as a valued committee member of Moyola and Toome Credit Union. Although he never smoked, Seamus was diagnosed with lung cancer in July last year. Despite this, he maintained his positive attitude to life and demonstrated the strength and depth of faith he had always shown. He passed away on Christmas Eve 2014 surrounded by his loving family. Seamus will always be remembered by all those that were fortunate enough to have known him as a true gentleman in every sense of the word.

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