Down to host Congress 2010 Iconic Event

March 2, 2010

Down will host the Annual Congress of the Gaelic Athletic Association at the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle over the weekend 16 – 18 April 2010 to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of Down defeating Kerry to win their historic first All-Ireland Senior Gaelic Football Title on 25 September 1960. 

Congress 2010 will be very special, since Down plan to organise an Iconic Event for the first time, to jointly welcome the leadership of the GAA under the astute guidance of Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Críostóir Ó Cuana along with Congress delegates and also to honour the historic Down 1960 and 1961 Gaelic Football team players and mentors. President of Ireland Mary McAleese is expected to be the guest of honour at the Iconic Event which will also attract Civic leaders from North and South, across the entire political and cultural spectrum.

Down GAA County Chairman, Seamus Walsh stated “the GAA is an Association of milestones, and ranking high on the list of importance is September 25th 1960. This was the day when, amid scenes of unprecedented excitement, Down won their first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Title and thus became the first team from ‘North of the Border’ to win the coveted Sam Maguire Cup. Not only was this a significant victory from a historic point of view, but the style, movement and combination that Down brought to the top were a treat to watch and have remained as part of the style of many teams which followed”.

The Annual Congress is undoubtedly one of the most significant events in the GAA calendar. Delegates from all units of the Association in Ireland, overseas and throughout the world come together to debate, discuss and to formulate the future policy of Cumann Luthchleas Gael.

Speaking at the Press Conference, Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Críostóir Ó Cuana, stated: “It is timely that the Association’s Annual Congress should be hosted in County Down given the special year that 2010 represents for everyone that has an interest in Gaelic Games and the affairs of the Gaelic Athletic Association around this part of the island.

“The staging of Congress 2010 here serves as a reminder of the exploits of what was a pioneering Down football team, one that played with no little panache leaving in its wake a strong tradition and expectation that exists to this day in the County.

“I am sure the delegates who gather here from across Ireland and indeed the globe, will savour doing so and aside from engaging in the important business of Annual Congress, they will join Down people in marking this most worthy landmark year.”

Acting as Master of Ceremonies at the Press Conference, the Chairman of the Down Congress 2010 Host Committee, Feargal McCormack stated “The foundation stones have been laid and the elevator for the Congress 2010 Iconic Event has now started.

We trust that Congress 2010 will allow us an opportunity to celebrate with delegates from across the globe, the significance of Down’s initial All-Ireland Senior Football Championship success and that our Congress delegates will enjoy their short stay among us, and that, when they depart they will remember there will always be a ‘Céad Míle Fáilte’, where ‘the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea’.

Feargal acknowledged that the hosting of such a major conference and Iconic Event would not be possible without the support of the local business community. He particularly acknowledged the platinum sponsorship of the Quays Shopping and Leisure Complex and also noted other major sponsors such as Ulster GAA Council, Belleek Pottery, North Down Marquees and PWS Signs (Ireland).

Cathal Austin, Manager at the Quays Shopping and Leisure Complex stated that the Quays were delighted to be Platinum sponsors for the GAA Congress Iconic Event and that the centre welcomed the opportunity to have GAA delegates and their friends from across Ireland and beyond experience the Quays at the launch, during Congress and in the future.

The hosting of Congress in Newcastle will provide a boost for local tourism with excess of over 600 visitors to the area. As a result, all hotel bedrooms in Newcastle and the surrounding area have been booked out in order to service Congress 2010.

A Primary Schools History Competition and a Post Primary Schools Art Competition with three categories namely Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 is also being organised in conjunction with Congress and Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael will officially open the exhibition of selected entries in these competitions in the Congress Marquee at 4pm on Friday 16 April 2010. Post Congress selected entries will be exhibited in The Quays Shopping and Leisure Complex, Newry.