Close this search box.

Case Study: Ballypitmave Community Development Trust

The Ballypitmave Community Development Trust, developed by Loch Mór Dál gCais and Crewe United, represents a unique collaboration between a community-led hurling and camogie club and an established soccer club.  

The organisation were recently successful in their application for the Community Ownership Fund which ensures the protection and enhancement of heritage assets, community buildings, arts spaces, and sports facilities.  

Their £300,000 COF investment will propel their shared vision of creating a centre for football, hurling, and camogie, setting a new standard for cross-community sports facilities in Northern Ireland.  

Margaret McCabe, Treasurer at Loch Mór Dál gCais spoke to Deirdre Morrissey about the project and it’s work to date. 

How did you get started and what were your primary aims for this initiative? 

The initiative really came out of a need, the Loch Mor GAA club has been running for over 10 years with players from 3 years of age upwards, but we’ve had no suitable facilities and have been using neighbouring pitches and their changing rooms when  and if they are available. Through the *Support Network for Social Entrepreneurs (SuNSE) initiative Loch Mor were introduced to DTNI and following initial engagement were partnered up with neighbouring football club Crewe United as mentors. Being neighbours, there was already an existing relationship between us as we used some of Crewe’s facilities and there exists some cross membership between the two clubs.  

Through the project both organisations realised that beyond requiring adequate sports facilities there was also a real absence of community amenities in the area. And so plans began to try and establish a centre that could accommodate local sports activities and incorporate a community hub.  

The collaboration grew and through the mentorship and advice from the SuNSE project we were advised to form a new independent identity and so developed Ballypitmave. The name itself derives from the ancient history of the Glenavey area – Crewe Hill is said to be the place where Brian Boru camped on when he came north in the 9th century and the name Ballypitmauve refers back to Queen Meabh. So the Ballypitmave Community Development Trust repersents not just a cross community sports initiative but a stand-alone community organsiation representative of the whole area.  

Through local knowledge we became aware of some land behind Crewe’s site and went about researching the possibility of acquiring it. The two groups worked with DTNI for over 18 months in order to work put together a business plan, fundraise, asses local need though consultation forums and meet with architects to draw up plans for structural requirements. A vital element of moving the project forward was the establishment of a steering group which met once a month and assessed progress, another important element was buy in from local government who were particularly supportive as the project addressed the lack of provision of community services in the area.  

What challenges did you experience? 

We’ve been very lucky in that the feedback on the project has been very positive, the need for something like this in the community is overwhelming. The advice we received from DTNI has been paramount in steering us in the right direction. Being open and transparent about our plans was really important to us, so the public consultation forum was particularly useful. We also made a point of approaching other community groups in Glenavey to ensure we would not be encroaching on their services and that Ballypitmave could be an add on to what other local groups offered.  

What are your plans for the future?  

We want the Ballypitmave centre to encompass playing pitches, changing facilities, a gym, and rooms that can accommodate meetings, classrooms, childcare areas and local events, plus a café where local people can socialise. We’d also like the space to accommodate a mini enterprise hub for local start-ups at some point as well.  Of course, we are realistic and know this won’t all happen at once, but probably will develop in stages starting with the sports grounds. 

Future planning is really important to the organisation’s longevity, so we’ve been setting in place governance that ensuring that the space will continue in community use long after we are all gone!  

*The SuNSE was an Interreg North West Europe, tendered by Lisburn City & Castlereagh Borough Council and delivered by DTNI. The project was set up to support social economy businesses with a range of business support.