List of Grantees

The Ireland Funds are strategically placed to ensure that grant recipients utilize resources efficiently. Our grant process ensures clear objectives with measurable results. We support vital work by determining the areas with most need and working with donors where their gifts can be most effective. Examples of the 1,500+ projects we have assisted are below.





 
 

Our Lady's Boys' Club of Galway

 

Our Lady's Boys' Club (OLBC) has been part of the fabric of Galway life for over 70 years.

When it was established there were few recreation facilities available for the youth of working-class Galway areas like Bohermore, Shantalla, the Claddagh and "The West." But for a nightly fee of one penny boys could come and enjoy sports and competition in a nurturing environment. Activities included soccer, rugby, Irish dancing, boxing, swimming, lifesaving, table tennis and other sports.

A highlight was, and still is, the annual Camp excursion where many boys experienced being away from home for the very first time. Years later, the club with its sportsmanship and camaraderie is cited by former members as a key influence in their lives. Padraig McDonogh, current Chairperson of the Club, came to the Club at age 10. He recalled, "Our Lady's Boys' Club was a great place to be. I rose through the sports program then returned after getting married and raising my family. It has certainly made a difference in my life. It would be hard to measure the positive affect it has had on Galway over 70 years."

A Network of Support

One key to the club's success over 70 years has been its ability to evolve and meet the needs of the boys who come through its doors. The club's mission in the 1940s was to address the poverty affecting its young members. The 1950s were about preparing boys for emigration, counseling them, and even teaching them how to drive. In the 1960s, the emphasis changed again as the club began to understand the concept and beneficial role of a social educational process. OLBC began to appreciate that youth work had to extend beyond mere recreational games and activities. In the 1970s, OLBC's response to an ever increasing employment problem was the establishment of an employment committee which acted as a network where news of any employment opportunities were shared. Today, OLBC serves 400 boys and is entirely run by former members who bring their experience and commitment to serve the needs of Galway's next generation.

That Our Lady's Boys' Club is run by former members is another key to its success, and a notable one. The commitment brings members back to carry on the traditions and pass on the lessons of responsibility, civic pride and sportsmanship. Tom Kenny has been involved with OLBC since his childhood and his father Des was manager and later President of the club in its early days. "Primarily to the outside world this is a sports club," says Tom. "Indeed it is so much more than that. It instills in members a sense of dignity, the knowledge that their own lives are precious. It instills a sense of civic pride and loyalty and a sense of respect for others. Much is done through sports but much of it is unconscious learning. And it has changed lives; many young men come in as rough diamonds but leave as good citizens. The generosity that is instilled in these young men shows generations later. It is like a jewel that is handed down from generation to generation."

Interestingly, the police and the courts have often said the club and its influence are to be credited with the low levels of criminal activity in comparison to other parts of the country.

Building for the Future

Today, Our Lady's Boys' Club is preparing to pass the torch to a new generation of members. Several years ago as leaders looked to their existing facilities they saw that the poor condition of their building would not allow them to continue the level of activities they wished. A campaign was launched to raise funds for a state of the art building where children could play and learn and continue the traditions of the club. A beautiful sunlit clubhouse designed by award-winning architects Simon J. Kelly and Company is now almost complete and The Ireland Funds are proud to have played a small part in strengthening this Galway institution.




A project like this is unlike anything the club has undertaken in the past and the grant from The Ireland Funds has helped immensely. The Ireland Funds' support even opens doors to other possible funding organizations. Funding from The Ireland Funds gives us a level of respect and status because of their rigid review process before giving money.
- Tom Kenny, Our Lady's Boys' Club