Photograph: Members of the McLaughlin families who donated land for the development of Muff Community Park. Seated are Seamus and Ann McLaughlin, and Joanne McLaughlin, daughter of Anne and the late Pat McLaughlin.
The generosity of two Donegal families was formally recognised with the unveiling of a stone at Muff Community Park, in Inishowen, acknowledging their donation of the land on which the park has been developed.
Representatives of both families, together with staff and Committee members of Muff Community Development Co-op, gathered to mark the occasion.
Seamus and Ann McLaughlin (both of whom were present) and members of their family donated the land, which has now become the park.
Joanne McLaughlin represented the family of Anne and the late Pat McLaughlin, which donated additional land for access purposes.
Bernard Breslin, Chairman of Muff Community Development, opened proceedings by welcoming all present. He went on to thank both families for their generosity and acknowledge the contribution of former chairman, Gerard McLaughlin who was instrumental in securing both donations. Bernard recalled how the Co-op, then in the guise of Muff Youth and Sports Festival, had long been seeking land for the provision of an outdoor community facility in the village.
The Festival Committee had accumulated a fund for this purpose but, at a time when land prices began to escalate, could not compete with commercial interests who could pay development prices.
Bernard recounted that when the plan did not come to fruition, Seamus, who had been supportive of these efforts, stepped forward with his generous offer. Pat was approached later, when it became apparent that additional access might be required.
Securing the land was the first step in a community success story that continues to be written today. It facilitated the construction of a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA, 2010), the development of grassed, drained open park-land (2012) and the opening of a playground (2013).
In the intervening period a party cabin, toilets, and tarmacadam surfacing were also added together with other landscaping improvements and services. Total spend to date is just under €500,000, of which €345,000 has been grant aided, the remaining €155,000 being contributed by local community and business.
Muff Community Development wish to acknowledge, Inishowen Development Partnership, The National Lottery, Sports Capital Fund, Donegal County Council, the Windfarm Community Fund and local Community and business interests, all of whom have helped make this possible.
Development is ongoing with a storage/activity space under construction, the installation of CCTV, the purchase of new sports equipment and planned upgrades to the surfacing of the MUGA, In the longer term, a pavilion building will house a performance space and changing facilities. Meanwhile the Committee is planning to up-grade the Cabin by cladding the building and installing a decking surround, to accommodate a welcome point/ coffee dock at the terminus of the Derry to Muff leg of the North West Greenway.
This will provide a much-needed source of income to meet the €6,000 annual running costs of the venue, which is free to visit but available for hire for exhibitions, activities and events. Muff Community Park is the first community owned facility on the Wild Atlantic Way (S) and is set to benefit from a growth in visitor numbers as knowledge of the iconic touring route spreads. The North West Greenway is also likely to swell current user numbers, which can peak at 1,200 daily in summer.
The venue consists of a Playground, Multi Games Area, Party cabin and drained, grassed exhibition/activity space. A marquee is also available for hire.
Muff is well known for the welcome extended to both visitors and new residents of the border village and for the co-operation between local business and community, who support each other’s efforts. The action of these families typifies the community spirit, which has helped make it one of the most sought-after locations in which to live and bring up a family in the Inishowen and Derry area.
It may be an oversimplification to say that it all stemmed from a single act of kindness, but that act certainly helped set the ball rolling in the right direction.
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