Cumann na mBunscol Gaillimh– The Early Years
Coiste na mBunscoileanna, as it was known then, was set up in the early 1970s. It organised competitions in both hurling and football for primary schools in and around Galway City and was funded by annual grants from the national body, Bord Lúthchleas Gael na mBunscoileanna. Football competitions, with about twenty schools taking part, were organised in Autumn and hurling competitions took place in Spring. Schools from the city and out as far as Oughterard, Claregalway, Athenry and Clarinbridge were affiliated. Inter-city games were organised with representative teams from Dublin and Limerick. Tom Cloonan (Athenry) served as secretary/treasurer of the Coiste for almost twenty years and was also an officer of the national committee. The A.G.M. often provided lively debate with some recurring issues such as age limits and the participation of seventh class pupils raising hackles.
In the 1980s county primary schools football and hurling competitions were organised by Coiste Peil na nÓg and Coiste Iomána na nÓg respectively. In 1995 the organisation of the football competitions was handed over to Cumann na mBunscol, the new name of the primary schools organisation which now had the Church and General Insurance group as national sponsors. In February 1995 the following committee was elected to organise the running of the competitions: Cyril Mannion (Belclare N.S.), Pat Coen (Claregalway N.S.), Tom Cloonan (Athenry B.N.S.), Pat Duddy (Bawnmore N.S.), Tom Cunningham (Mountbellew N.S.), Eamonn Kitt (Ballinderry N.S.), Jimí Ó Conghaile (An Tulach, Baile na hAbhann) and Richard Bowles (Tirellan N.S.). One hundred and twelve teams took part in competitions. Thirty two schools participated in the girls’ football blitzes which took place in late June.
Cumann na mBunscol had been organising the I.N.T.O./G.A.A. Mini Sevens competitions on hurling, football , camogie and girls ’football and the number of participating schools grew rapidly. Camogie competitions were being organised by a committee of teachers led by Catherine (Kitty) Fallon (R.I.P.), a native of Dunmore who taught in Kiltiernan N.S. This committee joined Cumann na mBunscol, as did the committee which organised the Galway City Sports and cross country competitions. Handball competitions were also organised. Handball had always been one of the games promoted by the old Coiste na mBunscoileanna and always featured in the inter-city games referred to earlier.
The first A.G.M. of Cumann na mBunscol was held in Kyne’s Central Tavern, Loughgeorge on June 20th 1995. The following officers were elected: Uachtarán; P.J Callanan (Craughwell N.S.),Cathaoirleach; Tom Cloonan (Athenry B.N.S.), Leas-cathaoirleach; Tom Cunningham (Mountbellew N.S.), Rúnaí; Pat Coen (Claregalway N.S.), Rúnaí Cúnta; Richard Bowles (Tirellan N.S.), Cisteoir; Caitriona Kenny (Bawnmore N.S.), Cisteoir Cúnta; Cyril Mannion (Belclare N.S.)
In the following years Cumann na mBunscol went from strength to strength with the number of participating schools growing annually and thousands of boys and girls enjoying Gaelic games in an atmosphere of fun and enjoyment. In recent years the organisation of county primary schools hurling competitions was handed over to Cumann na mBunscol.