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Inner city boxing club throws in the trowel

Gloves off as volunteers vow to rebuild abandoned premises

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Joan and her team with some of the hundreds of bags of rubbish and rubble they filled in their efforts to breathe new life into the old boxing club premises in Ballybough. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Joan and her team with some of the hundreds of bags of rubbish and rubble they filled in their efforts to breathe new life into the old boxing club premises in Ballybough. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Joan and her team with some of the hundreds of bags of rubbish and rubble they filled in their efforts to breathe new life into the old boxing club premises in Ballybough. Photo: Steve Humphreys

A group of inner city volunteers had the fight of their lives in the first round of their plan to rebuild a long-abandoned boxing club.

Joan O'Brien, a daughter of the man who originally founded the Orchard Boxing club in Ballybough in the 1960s, had a vision of knocking it back into shape for use by the local community.

Determined to return it to its former glory, she recruited friends and family to get stuck in.

By the end of day one, Joan and the team had filled 300 refuse bags.

The club was built by local man Paddy Larkin more than 50 years ago.

Faded

Now Joan (58) and her group are hoping Dublin City Council will come on board and help them salvage the premises.

"My father built the club with two local men 54 years ago and it was called the Orchard Boxing Club," she said.

"But when the shipyard in the docks closed down, he had to go down the country for work like a lot of men at the time, and the club faded.

"It was used for different purposes over the years but eventually fell into disuse.

"During the Covid lockdown, we were trying to organise a few activities and we realised that if we had the club and the yard it would be great.

"We asked the council about it, but they said it needed too much work.

"It was very emotional for me to hear that, because I knew how much it meant to the community in the past and my family's link to it.

"My brother Paul Larkin boxed for Ireland, so we decided to clean it up ourselves.

"We'll meet the council more than half way.

"We're willing to put the work into it, and we hope they'll come on board if they can see our dedication to it.

"We spent three evenings filling the refuse sacks, and the locals were making tea for us.

"My mother Betty is 87 and she said it was like what happened when the club was built in the first place.

"There were pensioners pulling up weeds and everything. It was fantastic to see."

Local councillor Nial Ring said the local people involved were "more of a force of nature than a community group".

"The people of Ballybough want this to be a tribute to the hard work and selflessness of previous generations and their successors," he said.

They are also determined it will be a "legacy for the future generations of what has always proved itself one of the best communities in our great city", Mr Ring added.