Valuing the Volunteer – an Article on Charraig Mór Club Stalwart, Jimmy Mc Elhatton.
Back in 2013, hard to believe it’s almost 7 years ago I compiled an article on Jimmy McElhatton as the worthy “Valuing the Volunteer” to be included in the match programme for the Ulster Senior Football clash Tyrone V. Donegal in Ballyboffey in May 2013.
Tonight, in Croke Park, Jim was once more in the limelight as he stepped proudly forward to accept “The Presidents Award” from the outgoing GAA President Mr John Horan. A magical and emotional night for Jim and all his family. Tyrone Gaels across the world wish to congratulate Jim and say Well Done to him for a marvellous lifetime of service to the GAA, his Club and his County.
See below his tribute from 7 years ago
Jimmy has often affectionately been referred to as “Mr Carrickmore”. He has been involved with his beloved “Carmen” a lifetime. Married to Rose (Donnelly) who hails from the neighbouring Parish of Beragh. They had 5 Sons, Sean, Pearse, Plunkett, Ciaran, and Conor plus Daughter Mairead.
Jimmy a mechanic by trade could just about put his hand to anything and one of the many great stories about Jimmy was away back when Charraig Mhór were going for their 3 In a row there wasn’t the plush Floodlighting systems which mostly all grounds have nowadays but Jimmy was able to rig up some mobile lights and using the battery from his car he was able to power up the lights which shone brightly to help allow Charraig Mhór to see their way to winning the Three In a row.
Anytime you arrive at St Colmcille Park, there to greet you no matter what time of the day or night is Jimmy Mc Elhatton. For the past 15 plus years Jimmy has been the Club Groundsman come Caretaker and General Handyman. Jimmy treats the Pitches and Facilities like his own and endless hours have been spent nurturing and preparing them for games, meetings and numerous events held in St. Colmcille Park.
Jimmy never made it on the playing side with his beloved Charraig Mhór but did line out for the Club Minor side in his early days. What Jimmy didn’t manage to achieve on the playing front he certainly made up for off the field. Jimmy joined the Club Committee in 1974 and has served in various officer roles down through the years. He was Club Secretary from 1976 to 1982. He was a team selector on the famous 3 In a row Carmen sides helping out the Legendary Frankie Donnelly and Packie Ward. He held the role of Chairman of the Charraig Mhor Éire Óg’s Hurling Club for 6 years. For many years Jimmy faithfully acted as the Charraig Mhor’s Club delegate at County Board meetings and League Board meetings.
Another string to Jimmy’s bow was his skills as a respected Football Referee in all 3 Codes, Hurling plus both Ladies and Men’s football. Jimmy was the Club Referee from1980 right up until 2003 when he was sadly forced to give up the whistle following a mild Heart attack after officiating at a Youth game in Killyclogher. Jimmy not only refereed Club Football he was also highly respected on the inter County Scene at Hurling Level throughout Ulster. One of his big profile games was the man in the middle of the Ulster Junior Hurling Semi Final between Down & Donegal during the 1980’s. Jimmy also refereed an U.21 Tyrone Football final as well as many Championship games at adult level Being the man that Jimmy was it didn’t take him long before he was back in the thick of the Action.
Following the retirement of Harry Kelly his close friend as the main Caretaker of St Colmcille Park Jimmy took up the mantle and still plays a key role in the maintenance of the facilities.
In the modern era Jimmy would probably be referred to as an early day Mickey Moynagh having served as Tyrone Minor Kit man Transport officer under at least 4 different Tyrone Minor managers namely Harry Brennan, Liam Mc Grath, Seamus Woods and Francie Martin. On top of this Jimmy was the right hand man to Tyrone Senior Hurling Manager Brendan Harkin when Tyrone won the All Ireland Junior Final in the mid 1990’s defeating Hertsfordshire in the final.
One of Jimmy’s quiet pleasures is watching Scór be it either Junior or Senior Scór but not just in Tyrone Jimmy and Rose are an ever present part of the Audience at all the Scór venues up and down the Country and Jimmy has never been known to miss the All Ireland Scór Finals. At Club level Jimmy helped out his trusted Club colleague Lawrence Kelly on the Cultural Committee.
There is no doubt Jimmy is truly an all Round G.A.A. Club Volunteer who simply lives for the pride of his Club and that of his County. I have known Jimmy for the past 30 years and he is certainly one of the most Genuine Gaels at Club Level within the County and if a visitor to St Colmcille’s Park,
Jimmy is sure to have the Kettle on the boil and a welcome cup of tea will soon be put in front of you.
His family have followed in his footsteps and are all steeped in the various roles and responsibilities for the Charraig Mhór Éire Óg Club.
An Award fully deserved. Mhaith Thú Jimmy
Eugene Mc Connell County PRO.