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Last Friday night was a night that will go down in history for Donegal boxing club Illies Golden Gloves Boxing Club. The small club based in the foothills of the Donegal Mountains in Buncrana won big at the Ulster Boxing Council IABA Elite finals.

Two of their boxers triumphed on the night with Cahir Gormley being crowned the 67kg champion and Matthew McCole coming away with not only the 71kg title but was also announced as the Best Boxer of Championship.

Illies Golden Gloves Boxing Club’s Matthew McCole is declared 71kg Champion and Best Boxer of the Championship.

Speaking about his win, Cahir said:

“It’s a big win for me. I won schoolboy titles and probably fell short around youth level, but I kept at it, kept working hard and it’s starting to pay off now. I want to be one of the best elites- that’s what I’m aiming for. We’re going to the top, this is only the start of it.”

This sense of determination and ambition is one shared throughout the club. Cahir’s teammate Matthew McCole, who was also victorious on the night, had disappointing performance at last October’s Irish elites, and wasn’t sure whether he had any future in the sport. But with the support of the Illies Golden Gloves coaches he was encouraged to continue competing. Matthew remarks:

“I boxed poor in the last Irish elites, I didn’t know what I was going to do after that. Them boys at the Illies Golden Gloves were asking me to go to the Ulsters and I was like ‘I don’t know’. We got sparring with Aidan Walsh over Christmas but, even after that, I still wasn’t sure. I could’ve taken the easy option, Jon was Irish number two at the weight last year, but I thought if I’m going to do it, I’ll do it the hard way.”

Matthew McCole, Cahir Gormley and the coaching team from Illies Golden Gloves Boxing Club celebrate their success at the Ulster Boxing Council IABA Elite Finals.

Set up in 1998, Illies Golden Gloves Boxing Club’s ambition is not just in the ring but also to develop their facilities for the wider local community. The club approached Community Finance Ireland back in 2016, when they were awarded the finance to purchase their training facilities at the Lisfannon Industrial Estate in Buncrana and to carry out works to make premises fit for purpose as an amateur boxing club.

Mary Nohilly from Community Finance Ireland who works with the club, was overjoyed with the results, saying:

“This is a fantastic result not only for the two lads taking home the titles but also for the whole team behind the scenes who have contributed to their success. A lot of work has gone into developing the club’s facilities to give the young people of Buncrana a place to train in the sport of boxing and these two titles are the result of that work paying off. A huge congratulations and hopefully a sign of more success to come!”

If your sports club has a project in mind, but needs the funding or advice on how to get started, get in touch with Community Finance Ireland today.

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With support from Community Finance Ireland, Kilkenny County Council, and Kilkenny LEADER Partnership, Gowran on the Move will open a new state of the art, inclusive outdoor community hub in Spring 2024.  

Nestled in the heart of Gowran village, the Gowran Outdoor Hub is a one-of-a-kind project designed to bring community, wellness, and inclusivity to the area. It’s set to feature a 300-metre walking/running track, multi-use courts (tennis, basketball, and football), and an inclusive playscape for all ages/ abilities.

It will deliver a space that prioritises safety and inclusivity, catering to people of all ages and abilities, as well as fostering community engagement and strengthening social bonds by providing a space for people to gather, play, and connect, encouraging physical activity, contributing to overall health and wellbeing.

At the centre of the project is the state-of-the-art castle-themed climbing frame, the first of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere. The equipment is designed with inclusivity at its heart and children of all abilities can use the facility. It’s a flagship project to bring together all ages and abilities in an inclusive social environment welcoming all and helping to combat marginalisation.

Gowran On the Move Community Finance Ireland Social Finance
Local children test-drive the new state of the art inclusive play area.

Thanks to our support and the support of the Kilkenny Leader Partnership, Kilkenny County Council, the Town and Village Renewal Grant, and other fundraising activities the initiative has already secured €395,000. Construction has already begun, with the play equipment and courts already taking shape. The project is estimated for completion in spring 2024.

Denis Hynes, the Chairperson for Gowran on the Move said:

“We’re beyond excited to finally see our long term vision start to rise from the ground. We truly believe this one-of-a-kind project will inject fresh energy into the heart of the Gowran community. We’re now appealing to local people, businesses and organisations to help us with a final fundraising push to get the project across the line in time for a spring launch.”

Gowran Hub Community Finance Ireland Social Finance Funding
The Gowran on the Move Committee on site as the Outdoor Hub begins to take shape.

Barry Symes, Community Finance Ireland’s Head of Community Finance for the Republic of Ireland was thrilled that we could help make the organisation’s ambitions a reality, saying:

“It is such a joy to see the progress being made on the Gowran Intergenerational Outdoor Activity Hub project – an all-inclusive project that will bring life to the community of Gowran and be enjoyed by all children and their families for many years to come. At Community Finance Ireland we support a huge range of community and volunteer-led projects from sports projects to social enterprises to faith-based groups, but they all start with an idea and a group of people who want to make it work.

Mick, Denis and the team at the Gowran Hub project came to Community Finance Ireland with an idea and we were delighted to help them make it a reality. This group has long established roots in their community and it goes to show, when you have a vision for your local area, and the drive to create that change, there’s no limit to what you can do. If you would like to support the project in their fundraising goals, get in touch with Denis or one of the committee members

If your community group has a project in mind, but needs the funding or advice on how to get started, get in touch with Community Finance Ireland today.

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Join Phelim Sharvin in Templemore Baths in Belfast for an exciting new showcase event on 8 February 2024.

Community Finance Ireland have partnered with Belfast City Council and a number of other key strategic partners to deliver On Purpose: Inspiring and Showcasing Social Business.

The event is your opportunity to hear from success stories within the Community, Voluntary and Social Enterprise Sector as well as affording you the opportunity to chat to and get advice from sustainable finance experts about the funding opportunities available to your community organisation or social enterprise.

The event is free to attend and will take place in East Belfast’s Templemore Baths on Thursday 8 February, kicking off at 9:45am and finishing at 12:15 including a light lunch. To register attendance, click the booking link:

The Speakers

Phelim Sharvin | Sustainable Finance Expert, Community Finance Ireland

Phelim is a Chartered Banker and has Honours Degree and Masters Level qualifications in European Regional Development, Economics & Business Management. Now Head of Community Finance NI, Phelim has had sole responsibility for the CFI loan portfolio since 2007, committing approximately £80m to the wider CVSE sector and developed a successful range of bespoke loan funds most notably in the local Sports, Childcare, Green Energy and Start-Up Social Enterprise Sectors. Most recently he led the CFI Covid Grant Fund Management Team committing £22m grant funding to the local Community sector. He is a regular judge of the Social Enterprise NI Awards and chairs the CFI annual Dragons’ Den event.

Pamela Hughes | Kids Together, Belfast

Kids Together Belfast (KTB) was set up initially by two parents passionate about providing services for families, children and young people with complex needs. KTB uses the social enterprise model to deliver these services across the Belfast and Lisburn Trust areas. They are entrepreneurial and innovative in their approach and have scaled their venture over the past 8 years to employ more than 50 people in an area of high economic and social deprivation. Pamela Hughes will share the Kids Together Belfast story including how they have lobbied for policy change in terms of self directed payments, increased services to meet local needs and diversifi ed their income to help sustain the venture for the longer term.

Rónán Ó Dálaigh | Founder and CEO, Thriftify

The Thriftify platform enables charity shops to value their donations, instantly list them across all of the leading online marketplaces, and easily ship orders to circulators around the world. The social enterprise was launched in Ireland in 2018 and has been on a rapid growth trajectory; scaling to 98% market share in Ireland and expanding quickly across the UK. With a vision of changing how and why the world shops, Thriftify is building the engine for the circular economy. Charity shops receive the vast majority of used goods and, by making these items accessible to consumers who care, the company is aiming to create a new model of shopping – one that is not only sustainable but also impactful. A champion of social enterprise, Rónán has been the recipient of the Irish Presidential Youth Award, The Chancellor’s Medal at DCU and the winner of the Irish ENACTUS award for social enterprise. He was also voted a ‘Young Global Shaper’ by the World Economic Forum.

Alice Thompson | International Speaker and Purpose Coach

A proven Social Business Leader, Alice co-founded Social Bite, an Edinburgh café designed to employ and feed the homeless community. It now boasts 9 outlets, 100+ employees and has been visited by the likes of George Clooney, the Duchess of Cambridge, Bill Clinton and Leonardo DiCaprio. Alice and her team made Social Bite a nationwide success, distributing over 150,000 fresh food items each year to those in need and campaigning for policy reform. Alice was also pivotal in the establishment of ‘The World’s Big Sleepout’ which took place in 52 cities across the globe with stars such as Will Smith and Dame Helen Mirren reading bedtime stories to participants. A recipient of the RSGS Livingstone Medal, which is also held by the likes of Sir David Attenborough and Neil Armstrong, Alice is now an international speaker and one of the UK’s best known purpose coaches.

Hope to see you on 8 February.

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The festive season is a time for reflection, for love and cheer, for making memories and spending quality time with family and friends. It is also a time for community and for charity.

The cost of living crisis continues to affect people across the island of Ireland, but also social enterprises and businesses striving to deliver social impact in the Community and Voluntary Sector.

As you contemplate your Christmas list this year, why not consider some of the gifts and activities that support social enterprises in your area? Delivered by volunteers and community champions, these home-grown experiences and products are great gift ideas, and will also deliver social impact to communities that are local to you in Connacht.

Here are just a few ideas for you to think about:

Ballinasloe Town Hall Theatre, Co. Galway

Ballinasloe Town Hall’s Christmas panto Cinderella is performed by local drama society B’Sloe Panto and marks their return to the stage for their first Christmas show since the Covid 19 Pandemic. Running from Monday 5th December to Sunday 11th December it’s sure to be a fun day out for all the family.

Tickets for this event are available online or from the ticket office at J&S Photos, Society Street, Ballinasloe.

The Glens Centre, Co. Leitrim

It has been two years since their last community Christmas show, but the Rabbit’s Riot Theatre Company are back with a new show written by Treasa Nealon, directed by Sonia Norris and produced by the Glens Centre.

The characters of Fairy-Tale Land TV Show are on strike! The prince is tired of rescuing the princesses, the villains are in dire need of some anger management and the step-mothers just want everyone to know how misunderstood they are! But Sarah is determined to get them on her screens, because otherwise she will have to spend more time with her family and less time on her phone.

Join her on her unexpected and magical journey through Fairy-Tale Land this December. With four shows running from 9th to 11th December, get your tickets now.

An Mheithal Comhshaol Co-Op, Co. Mayo

The award-winning An Mheitheal Rothar (AMR) are a social-sustainable enterprise based in Galway city who are rolling out an expanded service at their community workshop at NUI Galway and at their retail outlet in Galway Shopping Centre, thanks to recent investment from Community Finance Ireland.

Founded in 2012, An Mheitheal Rothar provides access to cycling and cycling mechanic skills training to people in Galway, regardless of their ability to pay. In 2018, the social enterprise introduced their award winning ‘Recycle Your Cycle’ initiative, which repairs and upcycles second-hand bikes.

Whether you want to view the latest range of bikes on offer or book your own bicycle in for a fine tune, visit their website for more info.

Christmas Competition

Community Finance Ireland have teamed up with Martin Hurls to offer a £100 voucher to spend on their wares. One lucky winner will win this in our Facebook Competition running in the lead up to Christmas. To be in with a chance of winning simply visit the Facebook post below and follow the instructions to be entered into the draw.

Spending your time and money in these venues and on these products not only helps deliver social impact but is an endorsement that, the local volunteers and committees’ efforts are valued.

#SocialTime is always a good time.

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The festive season is a time for reflection, for love and cheer, for making memories and spending quality time with family and friends. It is also a time for community and for charity.

The cost of living crisis continues to affect people across the island of Ireland, but also social enterprises and businesses striving to deliver social impact in the Community and Voluntary Sector.

As you contemplate your Christmas list this year, why not consider some of the gifts and activities that support social enterprises in your area? Delivered by volunteers and community champions, these home-grown experiences and products are great gift ideas, and will also deliver social impact to communities that are local to you in Leinster.

Here are just a few ideas for you to think about:

Dunbrody Famine Ship, Co. Wexford

The Santa Wonderland Experience returns to the Dunbrody Visitor Centre again this year for 11 dates, commencing on Saturday 3rd December and running right up until 23rd December.

Come along to the Magical Wonderland, meet mischievous elves, HoneyComb & Peppermint, and see Santa & Mrs. Claus busily preparing for the most important night of the year.

Santa and his hardworking team are determined to pull out all the stops to ensure everyone has a safe and memorable visit.

It’s a mesmerising experience from start to finish and offers families an abundance of photo opportunities. Tickets are priced at €18 per child (this includes an age appropriate present) and €10 per Adult. For more information and to book your slot visit the website.

Castlecomer Discovery Park, Co. Kilkenny

Castlecomer Discovery Park’s elf village becomes Christmas central this year, as they light up the area around the fairy houses to gear up the festive feels. The beautiful Christmas lights transform the space into a wonderful destination for a winter walk.

Children aged 3-8 can bounce off some pre-Christmas energy in the bouncing nets and junior adventure course and take part in the elf on the shelf scavenger hunt, while mum and dad can enjoy hot chocolate or mulled wine from the Canopy Café.

For more information and to buy tickets visit Castlecomer Discovery Park’s Website.

Butler Gallery, Co. Kilkenny

Butler Gallery continues its successful partnership with the immensely talented Kilkenny-based and five time Oscar© nominated Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, in an exhibition response to their new animated film My Father’s Dragon, directed by Nora Twomey.

The film is based on a beloved 1948 fantastical children’s novel by Ruth Stilies Gannett about Elmer Elevator, a boy who runs away from home to rescue Boris, a captive baby dragon trapped on a wild island.

The exhibition which runs to the 29th January is curated by Anna O’Sullivan, Butler Gallery Director, and designed by award winning exhibition designer Steven McNamara of Roji.

The exhibition combines the expertise of Butler Gallery’s exhibition team with Cartoon Saloons worldwide reach and distinctive style to develop an immersive, sensory and child-centred exhibition experience that will captivate audiences of all ages. Get your tickets now.

Christmas Competition

Community Finance Ireland have teamed up with Martin Hurls to offer a £100 voucher to spend on their wares. One lucky winner will win this in our Facebook Competition running in the lead up to Christmas. To be in with a chance of winning simply visit our the Facebook post and follow the instructions to be entered into the draw.

Spending your time and money in these venues and on these products not only helps deliver social impact but is an endorsement that, the local volunteers and committees’ efforts are valued.

#SocialTime is always a good time.

Share this article:

The festive season is a time for reflection, for love and cheer, for making memories and spending quality time with family and friends. It is also a time for community and for charity.

The cost of living crisis continues to affect people across the island of Ireland, but also social enterprises and businesses striving to deliver social impact in the Community and Voluntary Sector.

As you contemplate your Christmas list this year, why not consider some of the gifts and activities that support social enterprises in your area? Delivered by volunteers and community champions, these home-grown experiences and products are great gift ideas, and will also deliver social impact to communities that are local to you in Ulster.

Here are just a few ideas for you to think about:

The Strand Arts Centre, Co. Antrim

Strand Arts Centre is the only remaining cinema from Northern Ireland’s golden era. A jewel of Art Deco design, the venue has been at the heart of the East Belfast community for decades.

This year’s Christmas movie offerings include classics and family favourites: It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, Elf, Muppets’ Christmas Carol and Die Hard (Is it a Christmas movie?).

Their live Christmas spectacle for 2022 is Once Upon A Time: A Magical Princess Adventure with shows on 2nd and 3rd December and the CBeebies Panto Dick Whittington and His Cat (which will screen live at the Strand on 3rd,4th, 10th and 11th December) are a great excuse for some quality time with the kids to get you in the festive mood.

For more information, to book your tickets, or to buy Strand gift vouchers for the cinephiles in your family, visit the Strand’s website.

Bolster Community, Co. Down

Bolster Community (formerly Space NI) is a charity and social enterprise that offers practical support for individuals and families, helping them to get through and get ahead.

As part of their activity the organisation manage the candle-making social enterprise Acorn. Every Acorn product is handmade in Northern Ireland by a gifted community of young adults with additional needs. They provide their makers with a ‘scents’ of achievement and ensure every purchase provides them with pride, purpose and opportunity. By buying social, all profits from your purchase goes back into supporting Bolster Community’s vital services.

You can buy one of their unique scented candles from their website, a perfect stocking filler.

Martin Hurls, Co. Antrim

Martin Hurls is an artisan maker of hand-made hurls used in Gaelic Games. As well as producing some of the best hurls in Ireland, they also have a range of equipment, apparel and mementos to keep you looking & playing your best. The perfect gift for sport lovers at Christmas time. Check out their range online.

Christmas Competition

Community Finance Ireland have teamed up with Martin Hurls to offer a £100 voucher to spend on their wares. One lucky winner will win this in our Facebook Competition running in the lead up to Christmas. To be in with a chance of winning simply visit our the Facebook post and follow the instructions to be entered into the draw.

Spending your time and money in these venues and on these products not only helps deliver social impact but is an endorsement that, the local volunteers and committees’ efforts are valued.

#SocialTime is always a good time.

Share this article:

The festive season is a time for reflection, for love and cheer, for making memories and spending quality time with family and friends. It is also a time for community and for charity.

The cost of living crisis continues to affect people across the island of Ireland, but also social enterprises and businesses striving to deliver social impact in the Community and Voluntary Sector.

As you contemplate your Christmas list this year, why not consider some of the gifts and activities that support social enterprises in your area? Delivered by volunteers and community champions, these home-grown experiences and products are great gift ideas, and will also deliver social impact to communities that are local to you in Munster.

Here are just a few ideas for you to think about:

Terryglass Community Hall, Co. Tipperary

Learn how to cook delicious mince pies and pick up tips on how to perfect your favourite festive snacks with TV Celebrity Chef Catherine Leyden (Ireland AM). Catherine comes to Terryglass Community Hall for a one-off festive cookery evening on Wednesday 30th November.

Tickets are priced at €25.00 and can be purchased through the group’s facebook page or in the Derg Inn Shop.

Sailing Into Wellness, Co. Cork

Sailing into Wellness is a not for profit social enterprise born out of a passion to utilize the unique setting of the sea to help our communities. The organisation’s vision is for Sailing into Wellness to be a healthy natural solution for our communities to look after their physical and mental well-being and it is their mission to use the sea to inspire change in our communities.

Sailing Into Wellness is open to everyone and could be the perfect solution to help de-stress after the Christmas period, or offer an opportunity for something to look forward to in the slow month of January. To find out more or to enquire about a booking, visit their website.

Sneem Digital Hub, Co. Kerry

Sneem Digital Hub has something for everyone – employees, employers, remote workers and small business owners. The Hub is a modern and stylish facility with competitive packages and state of the art facilities available in a rural locale to suit your requirements.

During the winter months, they are running a special discount offer for people living in the local area. To find out more visit their website or contact aidan.murray@sneemdigitalhub.

Christmas Competition

Community Finance Ireland have teamed up with Martin Hurls to offer a £100 voucher to spend on their wares. One lucky winner will win this in our Facebook Competition running in the lead up to Christmas. To be in with a chance of winning simply visit our the Facebook post and follow the instructions to be entered into the draw.

Spending your time and money in these venues and on these products not only helps deliver social impact but is an endorsement that, the local volunteers and committees’ efforts are valued.

#SocialTime is always a good time.

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Fundraising is one of the key income sources for GAA clubs. Unlike most mainstream lenders, Community Finance Ireland takes fundraising and projected fundraising into account when considering applications for finance for GAA projects.

Our recent #Supporting Clubs On and Off the Pitch Webinars hosted by Aisling O’Reilly Off the Ball Sports Journalist and featuring some of the best GAA clubs in our communities, offered some really insightful and diverse ways that GAA clubs and volunteers are engaged in helping finance the ambition of their clubs and players.

Here are some of the innovative and most popular fundraising initiatives that are being delivered right across the island of Ireland. You may already have tried these in your club, or you may not but as everybody knows all ideas for financing and keeping the club open and vibrant are always welcome.

1. Club Lotto

Club Lotto remains a big earner for GAA clubs. When Covid struck, volunteers weren’t able to go door to door to sell tickets anymore and a number of clubs moved their lotto activity to online. As one of our clients Jim Codd from Ballyhea GAA in Munster told us, at times the Club Lotto can account for up to 30% of our income.

2. Coffee Mornings and Bake Sales

Who doesn’t love a delicious treat? Host a coffee morning and invite the local community to come along. From Rice Krispie squares and millionaire’s shortcake to cupcakes and brownies, everyone can bring along their baked goods to sell, with the profits going into the club’s coffers.

3. Fundraising Walks

During the pandemic, the activity that saw the biggest rise in participation was walking. As a result clients like Knockananna GAA (Co. Wicklow) and Kilcoo GAA (Co. Down) invested in off pitch facilities such as floodlit walkways. Our own Client Relationship Manager for Munster Nora Keogh said that sponsored fundraising walks are a great source of income for GAA clubs as well as great family events:

“My daughter’s football club in West Limerick has the sponsored walk back again this year. The kids are delighted to go out and get €2 off each of their relatives for taking part. It’s only a small amount but it all adds up. It’s great to see and it’s a great family event on the day.”- Nora Keogh, Community Finance Ireland.

4. Golf Classics

The GAA continue to use other sports outside the realm of Gaelic Games to assist with raising funds for their club. One example that our client Jim Codd at Ballyhea GAA referenced was that of a recent Golf Classic, where a combination of players or volunteers created golf teams to compete against each other with all funds raised going back into the club.

5. Strictly Come Dancing Competitions

Add some sequins and sparkle to your fundraising activity with a Strictly Come Dancing style competition. Pair your GAA players with local community volunteers and sell tickets for a weekly dance off to see who knows their sliotar from their salsa.

6. The 300 Club

After meeting with Community Finance Ireland and setting specific and realistic fundraising targets, Freddie McInerney from Newmarket-On-Fergus GAA Club in Co. Clare explains how they set up a 300 Club:  

“We created a 300 club. We got almost 300 people to sign up over a four year period in which we asked for a donation of €5 per week, €250 a year or a quarterly or sign up on direct debit. People were very generous with some offering €1,000 upfront. We created a team of eight people dedicated solely to this fundraising activity. There were two lads in particular – Thomas Reagan and Darren Dugan who went out and collected probably the bones of €100,000 themselves, talking to people, ringing people, cajoling people and getting them to bring money in. So, in the end we got an awful lot of people signed up.”- Freddie McInerney, Newmarket-On-Fergus GAA.

7. Family Fun Days

With many GAA clubs now the hub of most communities the ability to offer family fun days for their members and their wider community is now a reality. Bouncy castles, Mr Whippy vans, face-painting, arts and crafts and fun and games are almost as likely to be found as the footballs or hurls.

8. Car Boot Sale

It’s an oldie but a goodie, but with us all trying to repurpose or resell rather than put items in landfill the car boot sale is a fantastic way to raise funds as well as reduce waste.

9. Table Quiz

Hosting a table quiz is a simple but effective way to bring in some extra cash and a great way to add some entertainment to the line up at the club house bar. A simple eight round event can be used to test your membership’s knowledge on a variety of subject. Maybe even include a specialist round about your club’s history.

10. Scrap Metal Collections

Scrap metal is valuable in high quantities and rural clubs have been jumping on the opportunity for years. It’s easy to raise money by asking farmers and people in your village for their unwanted scrap metal at a collection point so it can then be sold on. It doesn’t cost the community anything and in fact you’re providing a service that they would otherwise have to pay for.

“When we started fundraising initially, we wanted to find things that are a negative cost to people, so we ran a scrap collection, initially that can bring anything from €2,000 to €10,000 depending on when you are running it and how much people have in their backyards that they want to get rid of.”- Jim Codd, Ballyhea GAA.

Our thanks to all the club members or volunteers who participated in our webinar series this summer and for sharing their insights and experience. If you missed these webinars, don’t worry- you can play them back here. In the meantime we speak finance, but we hear people. Click here and the local client to reach out to the local Client Relationship Manager in your area.

#Supporting Clubs On and Off the Pitch.

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