It seems longer than 40 years . . . but that’s what happens as the years move on and memory dims. Letterbarrow FC, as it was originally named, came into being on 7th November, 1975.
That meeting in then Drimarone Community Centre (now Bluestack Centre) did not have a massive attendance, but there was an interest in having a team to represent the area. Indeed, the original name of the club was Drimarone FC. Indeed, the name Letterbarrow FC first appears in the minutes at a June 1976 meeting.
At the time there were some local games being played and the area had been represented by two teams in a Summer Cup run by Dunkineely Celtic.
When the A team reached the final of that cup one year, the desire to play on a more regular basis underpinned the decision to put the organisation of a club on a more sure footing.
That first AGM elected Frankie Griffin as chairman; yours truly as secretary and William Mohan as treasurer.
Entry to the Donegal League was sought and thanks to the influence of Donegal Town’s Connie Gallagher (Donegal League Registrar) at the time, Letterbarrow were successful and began life in Division 2 of the League in August 1976.
However, the league season began in my absence as I suffered a fractured ankle some six weeks before the start of the season.
There were plenty of trials and tribulations over playing personnel and management with the original selection committee elected in June 1976 (by secret ballot), namely Frankie Griffin, Michael Mohan and Tom Ward with Griffin also appointed team captain.
A further meeting at the end of July had as first item on agenda: “After a lengthy discussion over the appointment of selectors, the meeting held that they must be allowed a chance for the full year” - this even before the first match in the Donegal League.
Success at local level was not to be replicated when the side played in the league. The first game in the Donegal League was on Sunday, August 1st 1976, a home game against Castle FC.
The late Paddy McFadden, then League chairman, was present for the occasion and he expressed some concern about the length of the journey from the road at Letterbarrow to the pitch, McCahill’s Holm (something we had kept quiet in our application on the advice of Connie Gallagher).
That first game ended in a 5-1 defeat with Michael Kerrigan scoring the first Letterbarrow goal in the Donegal League. The first team to represent the club was: Maurice Campbell, Seamus Meehan, Tom Ward, Barney McGroary, Michael McGroary, James McGroary, Michael Kerrigan, William Mohan, Seamus McGroary, Philip McGroary, Michael Mohan, Hughie McCready, James Brogan, Brendan Ward and Brendan O’Neill.
The surname McGroary was fairly prominent back in 1976 and that remains to the present day. James McGroary is probably the only ever-present for the full 40 years, and he is the present club chairman. Indeed, he has also served as Donegal League chairman during that time form 2002 to 2009.
If success is to be measured by cups or leagues won, then Letterbarrow Celtic (as they are now known) would not be high on any list, but if success is gauged by a club providing a sporting outlet and fulfilling that role through thick and thin, then Letterbarrow can take their place with the best.
They have achieved two league successes, both promotions from Division 2. The first came in the 1987/88 season, finishing behind Ardara while their big success was winning the Division 2 title in 1995.’96.
The first success was achieved under the management of Michael Jim Kenny, while Denis Gorman was in charge for the second promotion. Gorman has been manager for many seasons was is the current man in charge.
Over the 40 years, two players - brothers Philip and John McGroary - have played over four decades. There are many others who have played their part in keeping the club going through the bad times. Other managers included James McGroary, Michael Meehan and Barry Jordan.
The club have had a number of home pitches but now reside in Tymeen, under Carnaween, which was developed under the watchful eye of John Burke.
The current officer board is: Chairman James McGroary; secretary Majella McGroary; treasurer Bobby McGroary; PRO Fergus McGroary.
The club will mark the milestone with a special dinner dance on the first Friday in June - June 3rd - in the Abbey Hotel, Donegal Town. Tickets for that event are available from Bobby 087 9077881; James 087 2680049 or from Denis Gorman’s Barber Shop, Quay Street, Donegal Town. Music on the night will be supplied by Pat Gallagher Band (ex Goats Don’t Shave).