Founded in 1956 by local gaels, Tony Colaluca, Christy Mannion, Paddy Laverty, Sean Hayes and Brendan and Seamus Boylan amongst others, Naomh Éanna have grown from a small rural club to the biggest GAA club in North Belfast which is the social and cultural epicentre of the local community, often in the face of violent adversity.
In the late 1950’s, Henry Campbell who owned land on the Hightown Road offered one of his fields as a pitch to play on. Subsequently the club moved to another of Campbell’s fields, which was bought for £5000 in 1972. In the same year the club won its first major trophy when they won the Junior Championship. The teams in the 70’s were back-boned by the many families in the club to mention a few, the Burns, Farrells, Hamills, Duffys, Lemons and the O’Conners.
Further achievements followed winning Division 4 Hurling; The Junior Hurling Championship, 1990, 1992; Division 3 All County Football, 1975; Division 3 Football again in 1984, Division 2 Football in 1987and the All County 7-a-side tournament in 2001. Under the management of the late Gerry Devlin, Division 2 was won again in 1989 and St Enda’s maintained Division 1 status until 2001, being relegated that year after a disappointing season. However the Senior Football team attained Division 1 status again in 2002 after winning the Division 2 play offs.
The club continued to develop despite the many attacks on the club during the troubles, the club premises being destroyed in 1972 and badly damaged in 1983. A housing development opportunity in the mid 1980’s allowed the club after negotiations with a developer to purchase with the help of grant aid the site of the new pitch and clubrooms. The President of the G.A.A., Seosamh Mac Donncha officially opened the new pitch and clubrooms on the 4th May 1998.
One cannot discuss the history of Naomh Éanna without paying tribute to those members who have lost their lives during our troubled times. Indeed such is the tragedy that Naomh Éanna has endured, Kevin Kimmage of the Irish Independent remarked once that Naomh Éanna was the most attacked sports club in Ireland. Author Des Fahy also dedicated a chapter in his book, ‘How the GAA survived the Troubles’ to Naomh Éanna. Sean Fox our serving club President, Colin Lundy, Liam Canning, Gerry Devlin the then senior footballer manager, and most recently Gerard Lawlor were all murdered during the conflict in Ireland. Ar dheis an Athar go raibh a n-anamadha.
At underage level Naomh Éanna have progressed, winning divisional medals at all age levels throughout the years. The dedication of all juvenile mentors has continued down the years, the importance of an active juvenile section being the lifeblood of the club. Men like John Lawell, Seamus Devlin, Kevin Curran, Peter Sheehan, Stevie Gleeson, John Morgan, Michael Scott and Gerard McNulty stand out for special mention in this regard. Current county panellists, Damien Gault(football) and Philip Curran (Hurling) have benefited from their efforts and hard work over the years.
Over the past 5 years or so traditional cultural activities have played a large part in the life of the club. A School of Music infuses the gra of traditional music to many youngsters weekly, with vibrant tin whistle, fiddle and bodhran lessons, complementing the beat of the tackle and clash of the ash on the pitch. In 2003, members Ciaran McCavana, Dara Woods and Niall Murphy furthered the aims of a previous committee which sought to promote the Irish language in a practical and beneficial way by joining the Irish language education revolution which is sweeping Belfast and the rest of the north. Naiscoil Éanna, the first Irish language nursery school in Glengormley, opened in September 2004. A Bunscoil is the next aim. Irish language classes for Naiscoil parents and all members are every Tuesday. 2005 sees the first year of an Irish Dancing School under the tutelage of Nicola Leonard, a former champion dancer and Riverdance member, also every Tuesday from 1900. Set Dancing classes are every Wednesday. Teams representing Naomh Éanna have also been successful in the Antrim and Ulster Scor na nOg in recent years.
2006, sees the club celebrate 50 years and to mark the event a number of activities are planned which include a corporate dinner, history book, a jersey change for the year (to original design – black with an amber V), a Hall of Fame and a Memorial Stone.
Naomh Éanna Gaels looks forward to our future with the enthusiasm of the pride we have for our history.