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Páirc na Bríde... The History
Down through the years various different fields were used as hurling pitches in Bartlemy, Rathcormac and Kildinan. Very few Clubs actually owned fields until the 1960s when there was a big increase in the purchase and development of grounds. The Bride Rovers Club was lucky as fields always seemed to be readily available and most were very suitable. During the years when the Club rented fields from various farmers throughout the parish many important matches were hosted by the Club including the 1933 County Minor Football Final between Fermoy and St Nicholas'. The idea of a permanent "home" became more important in the early 1970s as with a huge increase in the number of games, proper pitches and facilities became a necessity. At the Club Annual General Meeting on Saturday December 29th 1973 in Rathcormac Hall, a discussion took place on the issue of a permanent pitch. In the minutes the following was recorded:
It was decided to investigate the possibility of purchasing a hurling field. Gus O'Driscoll, Tom Barry (Treasurer) and Henry Hazelwood were appointed to find out if there were any suitable sites available and a rough estimate of the cost of same and the cost of development.
This Sub-Committee made extensive enquiries but no suitable property was available. At a Club Meeting in Rathcormac on January 20th 1976, a special meeting of the Club Committee was fixed for January 29th to discuss the question of buying a field. No progress was made at this meeting.
In August of that year, the field question was again raised but as the Club at the time was £160 in debt, the matter was left over. In May 1977 a special Club Meeting was held and after a long discussion, it was decided to select a field committee of five members who would try and find some suitable field which could be purchased. The five appointed were Tom Barry (Garrynacole), Mick Barry, Pat Hoskins, Pat O'Connor and Tom Kearney. This Committee were to report back to the Club within a month.
They actually reported back in eight days. At the Club Meeting of May 24th, Mick Barry reported back from the Field Committee that an 8 acre field was for sale. Club Chairman, Pat O'Connor and Mick Barry were appointed to visit the owner of the field and make an offer for it and then report back to the next meeting and if necessary that a special Club Meeting would be called.
As the cost of the 8 and a quarter acre site was regarded as too high, the negotiators went back to the owners of the field, the Scannell family, re-negotiated the purchase of a smaller amount of land, 7 acres. The special Club Meeting referred to was held on Monday 20th June 1977 and the minutes of this meeting are recorded as follows in the Club Minute Book:
A Special General Meeting of the Bride Rovers Hurling Club was held in Rathcormac Hall on Monday 20th June 1977, 22 members attended. The Chairman, Pat O'Connor presided. The Field Committee reported that they had successfully negotiated the purchase of a 7 acre field. Tom Barry B.E. spoke on the importance of having a field of our own and he formally proposed that we purchase the field for the price agreed - £21,000. This was seconded by Liam Collins. Tom Barry also proposed a vote of confidence in the Bride Rovers Club on buying the field. The Chairman said that this was a milestone in the history of our Club and was a major challenge for the future. Tom Barry proposed that a separate Treasurer or Treasurers be appointed for the fundraising activities. Dr O'Toole proposed that Mick Barry and Tom Barry N.T. be appointed joint treasurers. This was seconded by Tom Barry B.E. It was decided to contact the County Board re grants and loans and attend the meeting of the GPC of the County Board, if necessary. Tom Barry N.T. proposed that a Circular relating to the field purchase and fundraising be sent to every household in the parish. Tom Barry B.E. and the Secretary were appointed to draw this up as soon as possible. Since the deposit of £2,000 had to be paid within a week, it was decided to seek a Bridging Loan from the Bank. Mick Barry agreed to contact the Bank and if guarantors were necessary, he would contact Club Members. It was agreed that we would set £15,000 as our target for the first year in fundraising and that a house to house collection be undertaken as soon as possible. Everybody present at the meeting agreed to collect house to house when the Circulars had been sent out. Tom Barry N.T. reminded the meeting that 1978 would be the golden jubilee of the Bride Rovers Club and that when collecting money, people should be told this. In the Circular, it was agreed to state that the collectors would call to each house "in the near future". A Co-ordinating Committee of three members was appointed to see the work of the collectors. The three appointed were Dr O'Toole, Jim Murphy and Tom Cotter. The Secretary was instructed to get the electoral registers for the parish as a guideline for the collectors and also five duplicate cash books for receipts. Mick Barry proposed the collectors should first approach all the business premises in Rathcormac and this was agreed to. The six collectors appointed were Henry Hazelwood, Tom Barry, Mick Barry, Gerry O'Flynn, Tom Barry B.E. and Liam Collins and they were to collect on Friday 24th June at 7.30 from the business'. It was decided that all monies should be made payable to Bride Rovers Development Fund. Mick Barry proposed that we ask Mr Baylor to attend a Club Meeting to explain about the trustees etc. Toni Barry proposed that we draw up a list of people from the parish now living elsewhere and Mick Barry said he would ask outside business firms for subscriptions. It was decided that a meeting would be held every Monday night at 9.30 and that all monies collected to be given to Treasurers on that night. Tom Barry N.T. proposed that a letter of congratulations from the Club be sent to Fr Gus O'Driscoll on the occasion of his ordination to the priesthood. A meeting of the Junior Hurling Players and Selectors was fixed for Friday night and the Chairman wished the team the best of luck in their championship game against Castlemartyr on Saturday 26th June in Midleton.
The next meeting of the Club was fixed for Monday June 27th. Once this historic decision to purchase the field was made, Club members really got behind the project. In July, Mick Barry, Dave Hogan and Pat O'Connor were appointed as trustees for the field. By the time of the next AGM on 1st January 1978, a total of £9,215 was collected and this had risen to £12,215.78 by March 13th. A low interest loan was obtained from the GAA and this was to be paid over 5 years. A monthly draw was also started in March 1978, the first festival was held from July 14th to 23rd and this yielded a profit of £1,500. During 1979, Tom Barry BE, completed all the necessary engineering specifications for the actual playing pitch and the field was levelled by Dick Shelley, fenced in and seeded. Over the next three years fundraising activities continued and in 1983 the playing pitch itself was wired off and goal posts erected. In the spring of 1983 various committees were elected to do various tasks such as planting trees, erecting concrete posts, seating etc and all these sub-committees were under the direction of Tom Barry N.T.
The first games were played in the field in the autumn of 1983 and these included two County Board games, Kilworth v St Catherines in a Junior Hurling Championship and Doneraile v Aghada in the County Junior Football League. The first actual match played in the field was a match between Bride Rovers and Aghada and the honour of being the first person to score on the pitch fell to Denis Mulcahy with his opening point in that game. It had been hoped to officially open the field in 1984 during Centenary year but this did not matierialise. At the AGM of 1983, a decision was made to build dressing rooms and during 1984 four dressing rooms, a referees room and storeroom were build. Sadly, Tom Barry N.T, the Master died on March 7th 1985 just a few months before the official opening of the pitch. This took place on a glorious sunny day, Sunday June 2nd 1985 at 6.30 p.m. During that afternoon, a team juvenile team from St Marys of Saggart in Dublin played a practice match against Bride Rovers under-14's in the pitch. The Saggart team were brought to Rathcormac by Gerard Barry, a son of the late Tom Barry N.T. and a brother of Fr. Seanie. Con Murphy, Chairman of the Cork County Board and former G..A.A. President performed the official opening. A special plaque was unveiled on the Dressing Room block which was dedicated as Aras de Barra in memory of the man who had done so much for the Club and played a huge part in making the pitch a reality. On the night of the Official Opening, Cork defeated Offaly in a Senior Hurling Tournament game before a huge crowd. The game was refereed by Jim Joe Landers of Waterford. A special 56 page Souvenir Programme was produced for the official opening.
Pat O'Connor who had taken over as Chairman in 1975 on the death of David John Barry, served as Club Chairman for 11 years and he was the guiding light behind the field development. As a player and administrator, Pat O'Connor had been an inspiration to the Club and more than any other man, the development of Pdirc na Bride was due to him. Over the years various other development work has taken place in the grounds. Showers were installed, Scoreboard erected and in 1997 modern dugouts for players were erected. The playing surface has turned out to be one of the best in Cork and the pitch is highly regarded by all. Tribute must be paid to the late Mike Gubbins, Denis Spillane, Johnny Canning, Tom Cullinane and Billy Foley who have worked on the facilities under the auspices of FAS. The appointment in the early 1990s of Pat O'Connell as Grounds Officer has had a major beneficial effect on the pitch, dressing rooms and grounds in general as Pat has given a huge amount of time to make Pdirc na Bride venue one of the best in Co. Cork.
Since the official opening, the pitch has hosted many games at East Cork, County, Inter-Firm and Colleges level. In 1987, both Cork Intermediate Finals, Erins Own v Mallow in hurling and Glanmire v Fermoy in football were played in Rathcormac. The blue riband of East Cork Hurling was also played at Pdirc na Bride in 1995 when Killeagh defeated Watergrasshill in the final for the Jamesy Kelleher Cup. The A Grade Football Final between Carrigtwohill and Erins Own was also hosted.
Training lights have also been installed and it is planned to have an indoor hurling facility erected within the grounds in the near future.
Photo Caption: Fr. Seanie Barry blessing the new field, June 2nd 1985 with altar boys Liam & Pat Barry, Matthew & Michael Walsh.