Over the years, the annual Termonfeckin GOAL Mile at St Fechin’s GAA has seen participants walk, jog or run in sun, rain and even knee-deep snow.
But even when COVID restrictions put procedural brakes on the worst, there are a few loyalists who have stuck to the cause no matter what.
Termonfeckin woman Michelle Hall was invited to get involved in the local GOAL Mile almost 14 years ago.
Now a County Louth Councilor, she stumbled across this opportunity purely by accident, when she made a donation to GOAL, writing a letter expressing her interest in helping with any fundraising. Karen O’Shea, who was previously in charge of GOAL Mile at the time, asked Michelle Hall to set up the GOAL Mile with Rachael Matthew.
“I remember a year when we had to dig our way through Feckin Park. We weren’t sure whether to continue or not because it was minus 10 degrees on Christmas night, but the next day it was 2 degrees so the temperature had risen, and people showed up with snow sleds on Christmas Eve. day, ”Michelle laughs.
“Another year we had Evanna Lynch opening the GOAL mile, and in the year of the Fleadh the Savage family came out to play their traditional music outside in the freezing cold.”
The event has been a huge success over the years, with ever increasing popularity. It has become a place where people can come and meet their friends, neighbors and family on St. Stephen’s Day. It’s now become one of those calendar dates that people don’t even need to remember.
Edel Sayers first got involved over a decade ago, joining the group of passionate community organizers who lead the annual Christmas run.
In the following decade, Edel especially enjoyed watching his children grow up with tradition every year.
“They’ve been involved since they were three and four. They are now in college but still run the Mile, and help out and it’s nice to see him continue with another generation.
“We have accumulated memorable GOAL Miles over the years. In 2018, the Fleadh Ceoil came to Drogheda, and on the morning of the Mile, many traditional musicians were playing as people came in and started their runs. It was amazing but I took pity on them because it was really cold!
“One year, we even have Evanna Lynch, a local Harry Potter film actress, help launch and run the Mile. She was overrun with kids looking for autographs and was great with everyone.
“The years when it snows are also very special, even if they are more difficult to organize and you have to take out the shovels.
“We also see some traditions that make each year great. The local GAA club, St Feichins, is said to have members of the teams that run each year, as are the local Drogheda running clubs and it can be quite competitive. Then you would have little kids trying to run after them, followed by people with strollers, grannies, and grandfathers. There is a good mix of people who are competitive and some who are just there to hang out and meet friends during the day.
Edel also notes the importance that tradition may have for foreigners or for Irish people living abroad.
“A friend of ours is married to a Finn and his father comes every year for Christmas. He’s still at the GOAL Mile. We have a common joke that we time it at four minutes every year. “
“My sister, who lives in Australia, has also been there and has made it to the Mile a few times with her family, and other families join them when they return from overseas. It’s a great way to see a lot of people in one place on their way back.
“I also recently read an article about a woman who moved from England a few days before Christmas in 2019 and her first social event was our GOAL Mile in Termonfeckin. She explained that it gave her a first idea of the Irish commitment to helping others, which I found charming. “
“We are backed up every year by local journalist Alison Comyn who always goes the extra mile and shares why helping fund GOAL so important.”
As the GOAL Mile has grown into a Christmas tradition in its own right, Edel points out how people remember the reason the event takes place in the first place.
“We hardly need to promote it now – it’s part of people’s Christmas. However, people understand the importance of supporting those in need. You see a lot of $ 50 bills going into the box and old people with jam jars full of coins that they’ve saved up all year, which is amazing.
“I recently posted a 2021 GOAL Mile return notice on our Facebook page, after it was canceled last year, due to Covid-19. Lots of people signed up with the post – you could see people were excited to meet up for this and to raise the much needed funds for the work of GOAL again. There were a lot of people seeing each other for the first time in almost two years, so it’s very special.