From the Pale to Cromwell's banished lands, Benone Strand to An Daingean, we as a club are certainly unique having members from all 32 counties of Ireland. The river Shannon, Ireland's longest river rises in Ulster then flows through Connaught, Leinster and finally Munster where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. What more fitting name than Shannon Gaels to represent us all.
Along with teaching, Michael Cusack was also a journalist and he used the nationalist press of the day to further his cause for the creation of a body to organise and govern athletics in Ireland. His dedication and commitment resulted in the founding of the GAA.
129 years later Shannon Gaels GAA are having articles published in the media on both sides of the Atlantic to further our cause which is to ensure the future of our gaelic athletics, heritage and culture in Queens, New York. Like Michael Cusack our great founder we will persevere, and we will develop to it's full potential our "Field of Dreams" not only for our own children but for future generations here in Queens.
We have overcome many hurdles. Starting with a mere 12 players in 2002 we struggled on many occasions in our first 3 years to field a full team. With baseball, soccer and basketball the dominant sports in New York we could easily have given up, but being proud and Irish this was never going to be an option and we persevered. We didn't bring home any silverware in those early years but far from it's possession many of us came. The love of our heritage and the social family outlet promoted by our club is first and foremost, everything else is a nice bonus.
Shannon Gaels is a home away from home. Many young families have had to leave Ireland behind in recent years due to the unfortunate economic down turn. Through contacts we have reached out to many of these new immigrant families and welcomed them to our club. Through joining our club their children found security and more importantly made many friends which made their upheaval from family, friends and home a little easier to bear. There is a great sense of community within our club. Numerous times throughout the year we have family gatherings. We proudly march in four St. Patrick's Day parades annually, recently many of our
members volunteered in the devastated Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy. Many of the children within the club play Irish traditional music and have represented North America at Fleadh Cheoil Na hEireann on numerous occasions. We are proud also to boast many gifted Irish dancers and singers young and young at heart!. We have even had our parents put on short sketches similiar to those in Scor, to entertain our younger members. Our annual dinner dance averages 450 guests. Many of our U-16's babysit for families who have younger players to give their parents a night out, as you can imagine finding a trustworthy babysitter in a city like New York is no easy task so to have the luxury of having and 'extended family' is worth its weight in gold . It genuinely is a home away from home.
With the attraction of other sports always there and college scholarships on offer with these sports, our permanent roots need to be securely planted once and for all. Our club is one of the strongest and fastest growing minor GAA clubs in North America, we have shown our dedication and commitment time and time again. However, now our real challenge begins.
Having signed a long term lease with the City of New York for the long term use of Frank Golden Park in College Point, we must now raise the necessary funds to turn this park into our "Field of Dreams". Our club will always stand together and rise to a challenge and we have no doubt that we will succeed in providing the best grounds for our children and future generations to enjoy. We will need all the help and support from both sides of the Atlantic to accomplish this.