Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon
IF you want something done, ask a busy man and that adage would certainly apply to Tommy Larkins hurler Roderick Whyte – a man who is using his sporting connections to not only heighten awareness of wellbeing in the community but also raise money for Pieta House.
Usually, when the GAA season winds down, a player is tempted to put the feet up, particularly when this person works a 9am to 5pm job and when that is all done must go back home to do attend to the family farm. It is not like Whyte, who just got married this summer past, has not enough to be getting on with.
Since 2016, though, 33-year-old Whyte and the community of Woodford have been hosting the Pieta House Wren Run, the primary purpose of which was to fundraise for the aforementioned charity. Consequently, this coming St. Stephen’s Day, expect Woodford to be a hive of activity from early morning once more.
All proceeds raised are split fifty-fifty between Pieta House and the Wren Run’s other beneficiaries, Tommy Larkins GAA and, this year, Davitts Camogie Club, both of which will receive 25% each.
Whyte, though, is keen to stress that while the founders of the Woodford project all come from a sporting background – Dr. Martin Rourke, Cathal Fahy and Cathal O’Byrne – this is a community rather than a GAA initiative.
“When we started this up, what we wanted to do was, No. 1, raise money for Pieta House and, No. 2, raise funds that would be invested into the local community and facilities as well. So, what has been done to date, we have finished the lighting of the walking track up around Woodford pitch.”
To a village at the heart of rural Ireland, a facility such as this is gold-dust and Whyte, who later speaks about the importance of rural villages and towns taking ownership of their own destiny, confirms the track has become a significant social and sporting outlet in the area.
“It is a huge resource,” he continues. “Whether it is a winter’s night or a summer’s evening, there are parents, coming up dropping off kids to training, who set off doing their laps around the pitch and they will stay going until the kids are done. It is a huge amenity, especially in the winter time,”
In rural Ireland, unlike urban centres where a myriad of facilities and amenities are readily available on the doorstep, Whyte reiterates that this, along with initiatives like the Wren Run, is hugely important and, possibly, is the way forward if rural Ireland is to survive.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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