Caisleán a’ Mhuilinn CLG was founded
in 1906, although the Club was not officially called
St. Malachy’s (Naomh Maolmhoig) until much later.
. Commonly referred to as "The Town", the Club has
grown from strength to strength, throughout the years.
An old faded photograph of a hurling
team of the late 1890's is the earliest evidence of
Gaelic games in Castlewellan.
The Club has successfully evolved
from simple beginnings, when a group of local lads
got together under the guidance of the town’s schoolmaster,
a Mayo man by the name of Master Cafferty to form
the first Gaelic football team in the town about 1903.
Martin not only founded "Red Hands" but also helped
to establish Feis An Duin in 1902 and was its first
secretary and driving force for many years.
Handball also developed early in
the club, with Father Cullen and Johnny Toner winning
Ulster Senior titles in 1927. Johnny's grandson. Brendan,
won a National Football League title with Down in
1983. Despite winning three County S.F.C. titles.
the club went out of existence towards the end of
the Thirties. but reformed in 1940 to restablish itself
as one of the foremost units in Down.
Pat Rodgers and Billy McKibben won
All-Ireland J.F.C. medals with Down in 1946, while
John O'Hare won glory with Ulster in the Railway Cup.
Pat Rice represented the club in the great All-Ireland
S.F.C. team of 1960-61. and George Glynn played in
the victorious 1968 Down team.
Castlewellan have continued to pick
up S. F.C. titles in every decade but they have made
a number of important inovations also. In 1954, for
example. they became the first G.A.A. club in Ireland
to own its own bus!
An impressive development programme
led to the opening of St. Malachy's Park. a pitch
of inter-county standard, in 1978 by President Con
At the end of the 20th century the
club has 16 teams, at all levels and age groups, catering
for both hurling and football, including ladies football.
The Club holds a record of 10 S.F.C
titles, the last two back to back in 1994 and 1995.
The Club also won the J.F.C for the first time in
1993, 3 M.F.C Titles, 3 S.F.L. Division 1, and 3 S.F.L.
Division 2 titles. The ladies also brought glory to
the Club in 1997 winning the Down Senior Ladies Championship
and our Junior Hurling Team won the league in 1999,
gaining promotion to the higher Division in 2000.
Sevens football has had a long tradition
in Castlewellan, with the Club winning a host of County,
Provincial, National, and International Tournaments.
The club is 4 times winners of the prestigious Kilmacud
All-Ireland title, the most recent being in September
2000. The Club also hosts its own invitation sevens
a side competition (see 7s page) with top teams from
all over Ireland taking part. The competition that
first began in 1980 takes place on the second Saturday
of September each year and has long been recognised
as second only to Kilmacuds in quality of teams attending,
and in organisation of the event.
In 1979 the club also won the A.I.B.
Club of the Year (B) Award. Football continues to
thrive at all levels, hurling has been introduced
at juvenile level and it is hoped to add camogie and
handball in the near future.
There is also the all-important social
aspect of the competition that helps to make the event
an enjoyable occasion as well as a very competitive
The Club has always adopted an innovative
approach to all aspects of club development. The first
in Ireland to purchase a team bus in 1954 and the
first in Down to open its own social club in 1976.
The club was also the first in Ireland to take training
off the pitch, utilising the resources of local sand
dunes and country parks. When fund raising is required
the Club can prove to be innovative too. In the mid
80’s the Club introduced outdoor festivals under a
giant marquee reminiscent of the ‘Carnivals’ of the
This proved a huge financial success
for the Club over a number of years and has since
been taken up and carried on successfully by other
local Clubs. Always on the move for new fund raising
ideas, in 1995 the Club ran its first open-air concert
in Castlewellan’s famous Forest Park, in the splendid
setting below the Castle and overlooking the lake,
with the Mournes as the backdrop.
Twenty years after the "meadow" was
transformed into a new playing pitch with proper changing
and spectator facilities with the opening of Pairc
Naomh Maolmhoig in 1978, further major repair work
became necessary. The work involved resurfacing of
the pitch including installation of a new drainage
system, new parameter fencing and electronic scoreboard.
The latest step in the Club’s development
program has seen the completion in April 2001 of phase
1 of the new stand which features spacious new double
changing rooms, toilets and showering facilities underneath.
Phase 2 of the stand when completed, will incorporate
new Ladies changing rooms underneath, and phase 3
will include a state of the art fitness suite under
the third and final section of stand. The third phase
of the work will also include roofing the entire stand.
It is hoped that all of this work will be completed
in time for the Club’s Centenary celebrations in 2006.
In 2002 the Club purchase land to develop a second
pitch - when completed this new facility will include
two pitches, changing facility and car parking.
The Castlewellan Club has been graced
with the presence of some very well known County players,
and holders of Railway Cup and All-Ireland titles.
John O’Hare (Railway Cup), Pat Rodgers (JFC), and
Willie Mckibben (JFC) in the 1940s. Pat Rice (SFC),
Colm McAlarney, ((SFC), and George Glynn (SFC) in
the 1960s. Liam Hardy (MFC), Eamon Toner (MFC), Dermot
Hawkins (MFC), and Donagh O’Kane (U21s) in the ‘70s
In recent times 4 Club players, Martin
Laverty, Kevan Owens Gerard Lynch, and Ciarán McCabe
figured in the Down 1991 and 1994 All-Ireland SFC
victories. In 1999 Damien McGrady, Fintan McGreevey
and Conor Boyle were members of the All-Ireland Minor
In 2000 Lisa Morgan, Maura McCabe,
and Aine Keary were members of the Down side that
won the All-Ireland Junior Ladies title. The Club's
senior team has been greatly strengthened in recent
times by the transfer from Ballymartin of All-Star
Award winner Gregory McCartan, a member of the Down
All-Ireland winning side in 1991 and 1994, and Simon
Poland a member of the 2000/2001 Down team, who transferred
from Bryansford back to his parent's native parish.
As keeper in the present Down Team,
Castlewellan man Mickey McVeigh renowned for his powerful
kickout, follows in the footsteps of past Clubplayers
as well as Ulster and County keepers, John O'Hare
(Ulster), and Johnny O'Neill (Down) in the 40s and
50's, Lawrence McAlinden (Down) in the 70's and Dermot
Hawkins (Down Minors) in the 80's. Off the playing
field the Club involves itself in many other sporting,
cultural and social events to cater for the wide and
diverse range of interests among members.
From handball, athletics and dramatics,
in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, to outdoor skittles, indoor
bowls and pool in the late 90s. The Club also has
had many successes in the GAA's Scor and Scor Na Og
competitions that are held during the winter months
and these continue to be important events in the Club
The Club plays an active part in
the local community making its Social Club facilities
available for all local community needs with special
support and encouragement to cultural organisations
and activities that promotes Irish culture. These
include Glór na nGael, Coaltais Ceoltari Eirean, Bunscoil
Caislean a Mhuilinn, Feis an Dun, and of course Irish
dancing which has a long association with the Club.