On Saturday, Dec. 10th 1994, The Downs GAA Club hosted Ceili House and Fáilte Isteach for RTE Radio in Rathwire Hall. Ceili House was presented by Ciaran Hanrahan and Micheál ó Muircheartaigh and Fáilte Isteach was presented by Donncha ó Dúlaing. During the broadcast, Micheál, while interviewing Christy Whelehan, suggested to Christy that we are here in Rathwire Hall which is in the heartland of The Downs. Christy replied that Rathwire was not in The Downs but The Downs GAA Club were guests in Rathwire Hall which was in a neighbouring parish. Christy pointed out to Micheál that The Downs was made up of 4 townlands: Greatdown, Newdown, Castledown and Wood-down.

A few weeks after the programmes went out on air, The Downs GAA Club held a committee meeting in the old Downs Hall. At that meeting a discussion took place the recent visit of the 2 radio programmes. Who was there, Who should have been invited to it and wasn’t, How many were there, who said what, who sang, who danced and the rest. That night in Rathwire, I wore a Black Jumper with a Downs Crest which just had a football in the middle - a very simple crest. I suggested at the meeting that we should look at the crest and try and incorporate the 4 townlands of the Downs into it. I had thought about it and I had an idea how it should look. Club Secretary Aiden McGuire eyeballed me and kindly suggested that I should take the project on board and come back to the committee with a blue print.

I enlisted the help of 3 people: Matt Carley for photography , Johnny Garvin for information from the Annals of Westmeath and Ann Deering for design. I remembered the legendary Tom Tuite, God be good to him, a Downs native, had a great greyhound called Newdown Heather so this was a no brainer, Heather for Newdown. The Royal Canal flows through Greatdown, so The Downs Bridge was photographed by Matt. The bridge represented Greatdown. Wooddown was easy, two trees on the crest. Castledown was a bit more difficult. I needed to know what family / clan built the castle in Castledown. This would determine the style / type / architecture of the castle.  A good friend, Johnny Garvin, God be good to him, was reading the “Annals of Westmeath” at the time. He agreed to research it for me, He discovered that “ De Lacey” built a castle for his son in Castledown.

So we had heather, a bridge, trees and a castle representing the 4 townlands of the Downs.

We needed to agree the text for Crest, The Downs GAA, Na Dúnta, Founded 1893. Now I needed to get the assistance of an artist and this is where Ann Deering came in. Ann worked as a teacher in South Hill in Delvin. Ann had an Activation Teacher colleague called Celia Faul who happened to be a gifted artist. Ann liaised with Celia and there was a lot of back and forth before we decided on the final design which was adopted by the committee as our club crest.


Peter Shanley