Legends of club: St Peregrine’s at heart and soul of locality with dearly departed Albert Pierson to the fore

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The St Peregrine’s Secretary David McEneaney takes a moment to remember Albert Pierson. “The word legend was made for him,” David reflects. “He was the heart and soul of the club. The club was his life.”

lbert was there from the start, he’d cut the grass, he’d mark the pitches. He’d put up the nets and take them down again, even in the rain.

He’d clean the dressing-rooms. He’d mentor teams. He’d sit on committees. He was a man that lived for others. A club man. A community man. His funeral was one of the biggest the area has seen. The crowds lined the streets, clapping and crying.

“The funeral went down past the club. It was such a poignant moment,” recalls David.

“There was a huge burst of applause. I know Albert would have been smiling.”

Inside the ground is the 500-seater stand. Albert would have welcomed so many spectators to the club. “It’s great to have the stand,” says David. “It means we have hosted some big games. Finals, Championship matches. Fixtures of that stature.”

Like Albert, Peregrine’s always go the extra yard when the visiting teams arrive. “Just simple things like greeting them, showing them to the dressing-room. Making sure everything is OK for them. Little touches like that,” remarks David.

“But they really appreciate it. They’d thank you. And they’d remember you. You’d get to know the same people coming over the years. You built up a rapport with them.

“And then following the Dubs, you might spot them and say there’s the people from Erin’s Isle, or the Barrs, or whatever.”

Going the extra yard is embedded in the Peregrine’s DNA. They put on their best performance in the Lockdown.

“It wasn’t just us. All the clubs were doing it. Helping out in any way they could.”

Peregrine’s organised Meals-On-Wheels. They shopped for the senior citizens.

“It was great the way everybody rolled in, especially the young people. They’d be checking on the elderly, asking them were they OK for the bread and the milk.

“Sure, it was only a couple of hours of our time. And we got as much out of it as the people we called on. Those people had such gratitude. They couldn’t thank us enough. But, as I say, all the clubs did their bit.”

Peregrine’s have fund-raised for many charities. Including front-line workers and mental health services. Presently, John Boland is in training for Everest.

“We are right in the middle of so many houses,” outlines David. “So we just don’t see ourselves as a sports club. We like to see ourselves as a hub of the community.

“We have so many activities; things like darts, cards, Irish dancing, hip-hop, educational programmes, and so on.

“People come to socialise. And to have a meal. So it’s brilliant that a club like this is on their doorstep. And it is there for them.”

Peregrine’s set off in 1978. Six people at the first meeting. In the temporary Blakestown church. Four people lent the club £40 to help them on their way. There were raffles to put a few bob in the kitty. They played in Coolmine Park. They had three teams – one adult and two juvenile. In 1992 they got the Blakestown Road location.

It’s a different place today. So many teams, so many members. Players on county teams. Recent championship success arrived with the ladies’ footballers and the men’s minor footballers. Westend Retail Park and EuroSpar, Hartstown are among the kind sponsors.

In 1998, the President of the GAA, Joe McDonagh, arrived. The West’s Awake. Mulhuddart, Blakestown and Clonsilla. He opened the new pitch, all-weather surface and clubhouse.

Since then, the facilities have improved so much more. There’s a gym, a Ball Wall, the all-weather has been upgraded and a new juvenile pitch added.

The club was featured on the AIG Club Chronicles. It captured the essence of Peregrine’s. How the volunteers keep the show on the road. “It’s only a short video. Four or five minutes. But they put so much into it. They were here for seven or eight hours,” explains David.

Eric Lowndes features: “I’m in the club since I was seven. I owe so much gratitude to the club. I’ll be paying that back when I’m here coaching the kids in 20 and 30 years’ time!”

There’s a clip of hurler David McGovern. “I love coming down here. We are here all year round. We are friends. We all pull together.”

The Heffernan sisters, Aoife and Niamh, remembered “arriving at the club. For a little Blitz. Children running around everywhere. We spent all our childhood here. We always had something to do, and somewhere to go.”

Louise Kidd recalled her days with the Dubs. “I was lucky enough to bring back the Brendan Martin Cup when we won it in 2010. I was bowled over by the response I got from the club.”

The video was dedicated to the memory of Marianne Costello. “She was such a fun person,” remarks Louise. “She was an integral part of our team. We learnt so much from her. By the way, she played the game. And by the way she lived her life.”

Marianne’s memory will always be cherished along the Blakestown Road.

Just like Albert Pierson.