Some of the crowd at Huddle Up Errigal in Gaoth Dobhair.
Glasgow Celtic fans from across Ireland, the UK and farther gathered in Gaoth Dobhair recently for the second annual Huddle Up Errigal.
The weekend of Celtic-themed events to raise money for charity ran from September 1st to 3rd, with one of the highlights seeing hundreds of people climb Errigal on a sunny Saturday.
Huddle Up Errigal was the brainchild of a group of Celtic supporters in Gaoth Dobhair, who wanted to raise money for good causes, share in their supported dedication of the football team and promote the area, in the hope that once visitors saw the beauty of the place, they’d return.
“The whole ethos behind it is to reconnect with Celtic and bring people into the area, and once they come to the area hopefully they’ll come back again and visit the place,” John Joe McGinley of Glassagh, chairperson of the Huddle Up Errigal committee, said.
Their plan seems to be working.
Enjoying the craic at Huddle Up Errigal.
The first Huddle Up Errigal last year drew 250 people; this year drew about 400. They smashed their fundraising goal of €10,000 this year, raising nearly €12,000 for Donegal Down Syndrome Association, Down’s and Proud and the Donegal cancer flights.
They also encouraged people to establish online fundraising campaigns for the Celtic FC Foundation, which supports charities and community-based organisations that support health and well-being, inclusion, education and employability
There’s still money to come in, so the amount raised will rise.
“The greatest thing about it was there was a lovely community spirit about it, and that’s the whole ethos of Celtic – people enjoying themselves but raising money for charity,” John Joe said. “And that’s what we wanted to achieve.”
The weekend kicked off on the Friday with Gaoth Dobhair Aontaithe v Tessie’s bar for the Frankie Pat Gallagher Memorial Cup 2017 at Carrickboyle, with the European Cup in attendance, followed by a welcome night in Teach Jack in Glassagh. Gaoth Dobhair United won the match, 2-1.
There were also Celtic-themed events held in Meenlaragh and Falcarragh this year, a charity walk and an auction and raffle that featured loads of Celtic memorabilia and memorabilia from the Irish national team and Finn Harps and the Donegal senior football team.
This year participants came from as far away as New York, and some are planning to come next year from even farther: John Joe said the Argentina Celtic Supporters Group has been in touch after following the event on Facebook, and said they plan to join the fun next year during their trip to Ireland.
“People see it on Facebook and social media, they see people enjoying themselves, and they said, ‘I’ll have a bit of that,’” John Joe said.
Celtic superfan Jay Beatty, an ambassador for the Celtic FC Foundation, attended this year, travelling to west Donegal with his parents, Martin and Áine, who founded the Down’s and Proud charity.
Celtic superfan Jay Beatty, an ambassador for the Celtic FC Foundation, pictured above, attended this year.
There were loads of returnees this year, John Joe said.
“We asked people last year, ‘If you enjoyed it, bring a friend’, and they obviously did,” he said. “And we said to those people, ‘Bring a friend next year.’”
He wanted to thank everyone who helped, everyone who attended and everyone who supported the event, “because it’s a real community event and it’s 100 per cent volunteer-funded,” he said. People are already making plans to return for next year.
There are no dates set yet for Huddle Up Errigal 2018, but they have a general idea when it will take place. “We have to do it when Celtic is not playing,” John Joe said.
Charlie McGinley, Pearse Doherty, TD, and Tommy Stevenson with the European Cup at Huddle Up Errigal.
This story was originally published in the September 7th issue of the Donegal Democrat.