A Day in the Life, with Pattie Stundún Uí Aodhagáin


PRIDE OF TOURMAKEADYPattie Stundún Uí Aodhagáin, Chairperson of CLG Thuar Mhic Éadaigh, is presented with the Connacht Award by GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail at the GAA President’s Awards 2017 at Croke Park in Dublin on Friday night last.  Pic: Sportsfile

Ciara Galvin

THEY say behind every great man there is a great woman. That’s not always necessarily true, however, in CLG Tuar Mhic Éadaigh’s case, it is a great woman that is behind it. The woman is Pattie Stundún Uí Aodhagáin, the GAA club’s first ever female chairperson, who last Friday night was recognised at the 2018 GAA President’s Award Ceremony in Croke Park.
The extremely affable chairperson exudes modesty. Not wanting to take the limelight, this scribe had to talk a good game to get to sit down with her and get an insight into ‘a day in the life’.
So modest in fact, the Tawnagh native would hate to be described as the woman behind the club’s success. Having just celebrated a whirlwind year with the opening of its new clubhouse and hosting the annual Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta, Pattie puts the club’s success down to the backing of an incredibly committed team. Her father Tom was a founder member of the club in 1965.
Along with being at the helm of the Gaeltacht club, Pattie is a Development Officer with Comhar Naíonraí na Gaeltachta, a job that that sees her operating from her home office  mostly, but also out on the road visiting naíonras in Claregalway, Achill, Clonbur, Belmullet, and her native Tourmakeady.
“What we do is we establish and develop preschools, after schools and breakfast clubs through the medium of Irish and they’re all in the Gaeltacht areas throughout the country,” explains the mother of four, who dropped by The Mayo News on her way to Achill.
It’s not just native Irish speakers who attend these naíonras, as Pattie explains that children whose first language can be Polish or French pick up Irish just like their Irish friends.
“Results and statistics show that if they have two languages at that young age they will acquire any language, and even their results in maths will be a lot higher.”
Many people would assume working from home would be ideal, rolling out of bed and working from your desk in your pajamas, but that’s not the case for Pattie, who says it can have its disadvantages.
“It’s not the ideal situation, because it’s always there, there’s no switching off. And when you work with children and in childcare there’s no switching off any way.”
Some people may listen to Midwest, Today FM or a bit of Newstalk in the car, but for Pattie, it’s where she gets a lot of her work done.
“I think my phone is probably one of the busiest,” she laughs, adding that unfortunately she doesn’t have ‘good coverage a lot of the time’.
“My phone would be busy, I try to say to people to ring me after 5pm … I try and leave the GAA work to the evening,” says the 45-year-old.
Asked how she juggles her day between work, life and her position as chairperson of the local GAA club, the gaeilgeoir who is married to Ballinrobe man Kevin Egan, admits that it can only work with the support of the people around her.
“Tomás was doing his Leaving Cert and Éoin was doing his Junior Cert and their mammy had abandoned ship and left them at it,” she says, while explaining the commitment of fundraising and organising last year’s tournament.
“The support I had in the background gave me the freedom to do that, that was amazing, they’re very able children [Micheál, Tomás, Éoin and Éabha], they’re very independent children and of course we discussed it and I explained I’d be really, really busy.”
Despite some perceptions out there that GAA clubs are male dominated, Pattie says the make up of her club board is a good mix.
“We have a good mix of nearly half women and men. Sometimes you just need a different dynamic,” she says.
Since 2014 Pattie has helped drive fundraising and planning through the help of the committee and community, fundraising in the region of €400,000 for their new club facilities and the holding of the prestigious Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta.
From bucket collections, to a Strictly Come Dancing fundraiser, the community now has top class facilities.
However Pattie’s job isn’t over now that the hall is built, her weekends can mostly be spent fielding calls from people looking to use the facility and slotting in sessions. In her down time though she enjoys the community’s Operation Transformation walks with friends and keeping active.
Ní neart go cur le chéile.

Quickfire Questions
Pattie Stundún Uí Aodhagáin

What do you miss most about being a child?
The freedom

Favourite TV show?
Peaky Blinders

What makes you nervous?
Public speaking

Most famous person you ever met?
Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh

Most unusual thing you’ve ate?
I’m a very fussy eater, so nothing unusual or exciting!

Favourite place in the world (home or abroad)?
Tourmakeady or Céret in France

Favourite past time?
Night out with the girls!

Best advice you ever got?
Smile while you still have teeth

Advice you would give to people?
Surround yourself with positive people

First thing you would do if you won the lottery?
Bring my family on the holiday of a lifetime

Three things that are always in your fridge?
Soup, steak and coffee beans