On being nominated as the 29th President of Maynooth University Barnhall RFC, in this the 50th year since our foundation, my thoughts immediately turned to the remembrance of those 50 years and to the reaction of those who started the club in 1969.

For those of us who were there in 1969 and have seen the progress made by 2019; it is a topic which brings a quiet satisfaction when we talk about it at our monthly meetings. We are very lucky that the people who succeeded us have managed the club through the years in such a successful way. We rejoice in the inclusivity of the sport with teams at so many levels.

This is, as faithfully as possible, a recounting of our thoughts on some of the major events that we were involved in and on some of the major events that we looked in at.

Back in 1969, we remember the foundation of the club as a meat factory team which was so unlike all the other rugby teams that we played against. After the euphoria of winning the Dublin Business Houses cup in 1971, we spoke about the difficult years when we struggled for survival in the 70’s. We recounted the excitement of buying the abandoned hut from St. Marys Hospital in the Phoenix Park in 1979 and erecting it on the factory rugby grounds. It may not have looked too pretty but we called it home.

We remembered the 80’s as a decade of expansion. The city was coming out to meet us, playing numbers were increasing and we knew that, somehow, we had to buy our grounds. Seamus O’Byrne eloquently described the period as “a time of bloody hard work” which culminated in the buying of our grounds and subsequently the building of our clubhouse in 1989. We are very pleased with the clubhouse which we believe is the most aesthetically pleasing clubhouse in the country.

During the 90’s, we looked on as the club sorted out its financial difficulties and bounded forward on the playing fields. We rejoiced when that wonderful team achieved senior status in 1999. We never doubted that we would get there but some of us naively thought that we would have got there 20 years earlier.

We observed the unfolding of events, when the club decided on a complete overhaul of our age grade rugby structures in the 00’s under the guidance of the late, great Frank Cullen. We looked on, in wonder, as the club embarked on an ambitious partnership with Maynooth University in 2009. Only in Ireland, could a former meat factory club aspire to and become a university club! The 69ers unreservedly approve of this development and are excited with the prospects for the future as a university club from the ground up belonging to our community.

As we head towards the magic year of 2019, under the sure leadership of Tom McKeown, we look to the people of today and tomorrow to follow in our footsteps. We are hugely indebted to the many players, referees, coaches, managers, workers, dreamers and sponsors who contribute so much to the rich fabric of our club. Always hold dear and uphold the traditions of our club in respecting match officials, our opponents and their supporters. In closing, the 69ers wish you well in your endeavours and hope that you will come to, if not there already, the same sense of contentment and achievement that we have in this wonderful club. Go well.

This address is dedicated to all “the dreamers who do”

Neart inar ngeag

Eddie FitzGerald

President – Maynooth University Barnhall  RFC 2018-19

A University Club belonging to our Community