Peadar McGranaghan Finn Valley Centre Community Hero December 2016
Peadar McGranaghan originally from Keelogs, Ballindrait, Castlefinn has been involved in community for many years both in his local area of Castlefinn and as a stalwart member of the Finn Valley Athletics Club. Married to Sadie, the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year and were 51 years married on the 23rd of November 2016.
They set up their own home in Castlefinn where they reared their family of six, two girls, Catriona and Sinead and four boys, Peadar, Dermot, Hugh and Kevin. They are also the very proud grandparents of fourteen grandchildren.
Peadar’s first involvement in community was as a member of the local show jumping fraternity where he was involved in training horses and taking part in events over the years. Through this interest in horses he eventually began working for the Baird family in Ard Na Glass who had horses which he tended to. He formed many friendships throughout these years with local horse owners and the Anderson family from Ard Na Glass as still involved in the training and racing of horses.
Fitness was a priority to Peadar and he developed this in many ways throughout his lifetime. He joined the FCA and remained a member for six years taking part in training frills, camps and field days. As a youngster Peadar had been involved in local athletics taking part in all local sporting activities, GAA and soccer so it was a natural progression that this enthusiasm continued into adulthood. He was involved in the early days in the development of the local GAA and soccer clubs in Castlefinn using the site where the C.P.I. now stands as a base for a pitch and changing rooms prior to these clubs acquiring their own venues. Eventually the money became available through cross border and government funding for the CPI Centre and Peadar was involved in the early days of this committee that secured these funds.
Having been involved in athletics at a young age he became further involved as a supportive parent through his children who had developed the same love of athletics from him. In 1974 he joined what was the relatively new Finn Valley Athletics Club. Not being one to shirk responsibility Peadar was happy to provide the conduit which enabled the Finn Valley AC to broaden its base to Castlefinn and the greater Finn Valley area. As his children came of age they all eventually joined as members and the love of athletics became firmly established in the second generation of the Mc Granaghan family.
Being a man who was always willing to roll up the sleeves, Peadar became involved in the day to day running of the committee eventually completing coaching training and continuing from there as a juvenile coach. Coaching for events such as the Donegal Championships, Ulster’s and All Ireland’s soon followed resulting in Peadar achieving great success with his teams.
Both Peadar and Patsy McGonagle made a formidable team in the world of athletics training and it was no surprise that the FVAC were strong at national level in long distance and cross country in the early days, holding the coveted spot of Top Team & Club in Ulster for many years. Peadar coached mainly middle distance and cross country and as the club developed and acquired a base, the discipline of track & field was enhanced with the development of the track at FVAC, so he turned his hand to track & field when required. Prior to the development of the Finn Valley Club in Stranorlar, the training was completed at the local Sean McCumhaills GAA Club and Peadar is quick to give credit to the club for the use of its location for training and indeed to the many local farmers who gave the use of their fields for cross country.
When Finn Valley AC purchased an old factory in 1978, Peadar got involved in fundraising for the club and continued with it until the club were in a position to generate their own income. In 1993 Peadar was employed at the Finn Valley Centre as a Supervisor of a FAS Community Employment Scheme which led to him becoming the Manager of the Pobal Community Service Programme where he remained up to his retirement in October 2004. As supervisor and manager, he overseen the development of the Finn Valley Centre into a community based enterprise with the help of Neil Martin and Rosaleen McGonagle.
He has and continues to coach alongside Patsy Mc Gonagle to the present day but also pays tribute to the many other people who were the forerunners in the development of athletics in the county particularly during the early 70’s and eighties, namely, Hugh McClafferty who brought people all the way from Downings to train with a club that had little or no facilities at the time. Jack Foley and Patsy McGinley of Castlefinn, Manus O’Donnell and the late Hughie Gallen R.I.P. who officiated at sports events. Peadar took over Hughie’s role manning the Long Jump after his untimely death in 1980 at the young age of 48. These early athletics mavericks blazed the trail for athletics in Donegal, coaching many of today’s current athletics coaches as youths.
Peadar, alongside Patsy trained and travelled with senior teams to International competitions and they had great success with the Senior Ladies Team winning 10 All Ireland National Championships from 1993 to 2004, eight of which were won in a row. The team consisted of the following athletes over this period; Kay Byrne, Catriona McGranaghan, Belinda McArdle, Dawn Hargan, Ita Boyle, Rosaleen Campbell, Rosemary Bogle, Noeleen Porter, Clodagh McCool, Margaret Synnott, Helena Crossan. He also travelled to Cassino in Italy, Gateshead in England, Scotland and Dover in the South of England on many occasions.
Working mainly with juvenile athletes he took on the young team of Ian Ward, Ryan McDaid, Shane Bonner RIP, Pauric McLaughlin, Aidan Connolly and Darren McGlinchey when they were just 10 years old winning nine All Ireland middle distance juvenile competitions in a row.
He has also had many athletes who have achieved excellent results on an individual basis, in particular; Aaron McGlynn who won 13 All Ireland first places and two as team leader with his team members Jimmy Keegan, Luke Gavigan, Shane McMonagle, Samuel McClintock and Adam McGranaghan. Aaron also qualified for the youth Olympics held in Russia, Denver Kelly who won national track & field in 800 and 1500 and Mark Bonner won the national 1500.
To this day Peadar still travels nationally to athletics events and competitions with juvenile teams that he trains and he is constantly developing up and coming juvenile teams.
Hobbies and Charity Fundraising
Having grown up on a farm Peadar was always around tractors, and not having the luxury of a mechanic on hand when required, he learned to fix the family tractor. He has carried this skill through to the present day and he now has a great interest in vintage tractors which he buys, sources parts for and restores alongside his son Hugh. He owns three show tractors, two Massey Ferguson 35’s and one Massey Ferguson 148 Massey Fergusons which are now collectors’ items. He puts these tractors to good use in charity tractor runs and fundraisers for charity and takes part every year in the Crossroads Vintage Shows as well as in Burt and St. Joseph’s Hospital, Raphoe Show and Anthony Gallinagh’s tractor run in Stranorlar. Usually he travels to about six shows per year as well as one that is run to support the Cancer Bus to Galway. As well as taking part in charity tractor runs he also supports many other charities including Concern, Red Cross, River Blindness, Crumlin, Sightsavers and World Vision.
Being and active man Peadar enjoys modern and old time dancing which he and Sadie regularly attend. They can be seen in McBrides on a weekly
basis and occasionally they will travel to Kesh, Garvagh, Aghyarayn, Finn Valley, Lifford and Cranford for dances. In recent times Sadie organised a dance and coffee morning to support the hospice who cared for their daughter in law, Lisa Mc Granaghan R.I.P. who passed away in March 2015. Together they raised €3,600 between both events.
You wouldn’t need to be a rocket scientist to guess that Peadar’s motto in life is to do the best for everyone you meet while keeping going and active. His philosophy is “You’ll do nothing for anyone if you’re not active yourself”. At 77 years and as busy as Peadar is, he is certainly living that motto to the full.