Prior to the formation of Shannon Gaels GAA the playing of Gaelic football in our club area was informal and intermittent. Earliest records refer to the ‘Blacklion Sons of MacNean’ team of which little is known. From 1917 a number of local teams representing districts or townlands played against each other with a hay ball. These teams included Glangevlin, Roo, Gowlan, Gortahill and Gubaveeney which was known as ‘the terrors of the land ‘and were also the strongest team. Due to emigration these teams began to die out in the 1930’s. During this period a Blacklion team was formed which played in the North Leitrim Championship and also for a short period in the Cavan Championship until they disbanded in 1959.
A Dowra team was formed in 1960 with Dowra, Blacklion, Glangevlin and Ballinaglera joining forces. This team played in the North Leitrim Championship and winning it in 1961. In 1962 this Dowra team faded away due to the devastating effects of emigration and the decision of the Cavan County Board to claim back the Cavan part of their area. This resulted in no club west of the Gap.
1967 saw the revival of GAA in the area with the formation of Blacklion GAA and this team entering the Cavan Junior GAA but again due to emigration only for a few years and remaining players joining neighbouring clubs.
In 1972 saw the amalgamation of Blacklion, Glangevlin and Swanlinbar under the name Shannon Gaels and a team entering the junior competition. This amalgamation made little impact on the field and lacked support in the areas ended in 1973 following the transfer of a number of players to Belcoo.
In January 1978 a meeting was called in Doobally Hall by local curate Fr. Noel McIntyre to discuss the possibility of the re-establishment a GAA club in the area. Many present at this meeting were previously involved with attempts to establish a club. There it was unanimously decided to form a club for the first time to represent the Cavan area west of the Cuilcagh Mountains comprising of Glangevlin, Dowra and Blacklion. The named the club ‘Shannon Gaels’ which was also the name used some years previously by the amalgamated team. Black and amber were chosen as the Club Colours. More recently a club crest was also chosen which depicts features of the Shannon Gaels club area. These features include the Killinagh Old Church, the Cuilcagh Mountains, Dowra bridge along with the GAA logos.
The immediate aim of the newly formed club committee was the building of strong underage structures. Two long term objectives were set, the winning of a county title giving the club a sense of achievement and the purchase and development of club grounds.
The first objective was attained by the winning the Cavan Junior ‘C’ Championship in 1979 followed by winning the Junior Championship in 1989 as well as league titles in 1987 and 1999. County titles were also won by juvenile boys and girls teams throughout the years.
The second objective was achieved in 1992 with the opening of “Páirc Gaeil na Siónnainne” which is situated on the shores of Lough MacNean, these grounds are amongst the most picturesque in the country and have won ‘Club Grounds of the Year’ award on a number of occasions. A 500 seated stand was officially opened in 1999. In 2006 a major redevelopment of Páirc Ghaeil na Siónainne was undertaken. This development which was officially opened in 2008 includes a full sized ‘Prunty’ pitch, a floodlit training pitch and a running track. A juvenile pitch was also completed in Glangevlin in 2012. These facilities are a testament to the foresight of the club founders and committees that followed.
Since the foundation of the club Shannon Gaels have provided many footballers to county panels. These footballers have worn the royal blue jersey with honour and some have distinguished themselves with provincial medals at U-21 and senior level as well as All-Ireland medals in Intermediate and Junior in ladies and men’s football.
At County Board level representatives of Shannon Gaels have also made their presence felt in terms of their commitment to the wider good of the GAA in our County. This was exemplified by the election of in 2009, of then club chairman Tom O’Reilly as Chairman of the Cavan County Board: a great honour for him but also for the Club.
Over the years Shannon Gaels have also participated in other cultural activities of the GAA such as Scór and Scór na nÓg. In 2000 the club won the ballad singing competition and the set dancers won the county title in 2000 and 2001.
Posted by Philip Feeley February 2017