Purchase and Development of Grounds

The following article is reproduced from the Club's Souvenir Magazine to mark the opening of the ground in May 1977

In common with a lot of other clubs of the 30's and 40's the Summerhill club had no place that it could call its own - no field, no pitch. During this period the club members depended on the use of a field from some local person to practice in. More often than not the practising was done in a field provided by the Shaw family or in Connolly's field or Ryan's field.

Around 1950, the officials of the club began to think that the time had come to be making an effort to secure a playing pitch of their own. Naturally enough there were many fields that were thought to be suitable but there were two places uppermost in the minds of these same officials - "The Square Park" and "The Stone Paddock". For the benefit of our younger readers "The Stone Paddock" is the field just outside the Village on the right hand side of the Dublin Road. "The Square Park" is the site of the present football premises.

The Square Park was part of the Kelly Estate which was acquired by the Land Commission around 1950. An application was made to the Land Commission for part of the Kelly Estate to be developed as a football pitch.

The County Board bought the pitch on behalf of the club for the enormous sum of £258.5.5. for 7 acres. Yes a mere £37 per acre. Today it would probably fetch nearer £2,000 per acre. Now the club had a place of its own and to a certain extent new headaches, new problems began to arise. The first such headache was the repayments to the County Board. Times were bad, money was scarce and the £50 per year repayments were hard come by. Nevertheless, then, as always, the officers of the club proved equal to the task.

In 1957 the land was ploughed (at a cost of £6) and wheat was sown. '57 wasn't a great year and problems arose at harvest time. Nevertheless, a profit of £117.19.5 was made on the wheat. This made great inroads into the debt.

In 1958 the land was set for meadow and in 1959 it was let for grazing. And so in 1960 the final installment of £19.16.0 was paid on the pitch. Now, not alone did the club have a place of its own, but it owned its own place. When the club acquired the land there were a number of electricity poles down the centre of the field. These had to be moved to another location by E.S.B. This cost £65 and was considered to be much worse than the £250 for the land at the time.

Headache No. 2 was the development of the pitch. While the members were using the pitch from about 1960 onwards, the task of levelling it had to be faced. At some points the land on the "Doctor's Side" i.e. side of entrance, was also 8' higher than on the other side. Before the development work could commence it was necessary to procure the finance needed for the job. Towards this end a number of Carnivals were run on a 50-50 basis with other clubs in the Parish - Tennis Club, Muintir na Tíre.

By 1963 the Club was ready to start its work and in July of that year the machines moved in. 245 hours were spent levelling the land. It was then rotovated, shored and mould drained. In September '63 the pitch was ready for seeding - cost of £150. This had been a major undertaking for the club. The fruits of their labour then are shown in the excellent pitch we have today.

In 1965 work began on the fencing of the playing area. The annals recall that on June 4th, 1967 the first championship matches were played in the enclosed pitch - Moynalvey v. Kildalkey in Junior B, Rathmolyon v. Enfield in Intermediate and Baconstown v. Summerhill in Junior B.

Gradually the needs of the club grew and by the late sixties the need for dressing rooms was becoming apparent. At that stage the task was approached on a voluntary basis and thanks mainly to the efforts of Niall Fagan, dressing rooms were erected. These premises served the dual purpose of changing rooms and meeting rooms and were a significant step in the development of the Park.

But development is an ongoing thing. Needs are constantly increasing and new demands are created. In early '74 the Committee decided to start a 200 club to raise funds to extend the premises. This 200 club, later extended to a 300 club, had been a constant source of income over the following three years, and has provided the greatest part of the money that has built the Pavilion which stands today. The 300 club had been a tremendous success and great credit is due to the promoters and to the organisers, especially Frank Taffee and Fr. Behan.

Right through '75 and early '76 the Committee worked on plans for the extension. Many aspects had to be considered - size, desirable facilities, growing needs and increasing numbers, and of course finance. The contractor moved in, in July 1976 and by March 1977 the building was completed except for a few "odds and ends" which remained to be ironed out. And so there it is today, our ground - the old "Square Park".

Many clubs today are contemplating purchasing a pitch for their own use or building dressing rooms or a social centre. To them we say: Plan carefully, ensure a good cash flow situation, make use of such schemes as Ciste Gael or your own 200 club, set yourself specific targets and ACT NOW. Best of Luck!