Derrydonnell – Athenry Gun Club Easter 1998

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With a decline in the game and wildfowl stocks a group of us got together namely Tommy Madden, Willie Higgins, Dominic Mannion, Tommy Ryan and myself, Michael Mahon. By the start of the shooting season in 1978 the Gun Club was formed. Tommy Ryan chairman, Tommy Madden treasurer, Michael Mahon club secretary.

Having gained farmers and landowners permission to shoot over their lands, our main aims were to promote re-stocking, habitat improvements and to control predators. This was a very big task, but with five enthusiastic members no obstacle was to high to climb.

A pheasant release pin was constructed at the back of the late John and Dennis Connolly’s house, one day old pheasants poults were purchased and reared. Tommy Madden and I at first and later on enrolled the help of Dennis Connolly R.I.P. to feed water and nurse poults to release stage.

After seven years over 500 pheasants were reared and released. I remember on one occasion asking Dennis if after release any pheasants stayed around. He called out “Tagaim Tagaim” and birds came running from hedges and meadow fields beside the pen but on seeing me they ran back twice as quickly to the cover

With food and poults costs increasing the club decided to purchase birds ready to release. To date over 1500 pheasants have been released. At the club’s foundation, Dominic Mannion, Willie Higgins and Tommy Ryan carried out a strict vermin control programme. This ensured released birds and wild game stock in the area had a better chance to survive.

In the clubs 20 years of existence over 2500 foxes, 4000 grey crows, 4000 magpies have been shot. In 1997 the club won the Co. Galway vermin control award, which was a great achievement. The club winner for vermin control in 1997 was Eugene McKenna, other prize winners presented with their prizes at a very enjoyable social, the clubs 19th social were:

Longest tail – Gabe Cronnelly

Heaviest bird – Danny Cullinan

Mixed bag – Ronan Madden

Heavy Wild Duck – Simon McNamara

Clubman of the year – Peter Corley and Gerry Cronnolly

Perpetual cups and trophies were kindly sponsored by McNamara’s Garage, The Steel Company of Ireland, Paddy Cronnelly, Rev. Fr. A. King, Jimmie Connelly, and Gerry Burke.

The awards for club member of the year in County Galway have been won in the past by Eamon Brady, Eugene McKenna and Liam Keary. Other achievements have been the winning of the St. Patrick’s Day Float prize. The planting of 0.5-acre trees at Newford. The successful acquisition of shooting rights to state-owned forests at Palmerstown – Toberoe, Mountain West, CastleEllen, Kiltulla South, Kingsland South and Carnakelly. The club now boasts of three sanctuaries, with a membership of 61 and dedicated officers namely Fr. A. King; President, Tommy Madden; Chairman, Seamus Collins; Secretary, Eamon Brady; Treasurer. The club is going from strength to strength.

The club is indebted to the farmers for their continued support and co-operation. All members are covered by the N.A.R.G.C. game hunting compensation fund which will ensure all farmers that they are fully indemnified against any loss/damage caused by the club’s activities. Each year a safety educational officer comes to the club to speak on safe gun handling. A safety check to your gun is carried out free of charge and a video on gun safety is shown.

The 20th Social will be held on Nov. 6th 1998 and 25th April 1998 sees Country Roads in the Briar. The hours of pleasure and entertainment to be found in this sport more than compensates for the effort and hard work expended on establishing a gun club.

If a sportsman true you’d be,

Listen carefully to me,

Man or beast oft unseen,

May lurk behind some leafy screen,

So if ever one flies low,

Be a sportsman let him go.

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About this record

Written by Michael Mahon

Published here 23 Mar 2023 and originally published Easter 1998

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