The Celtic Sod.
Great Sporting events and their memories are something which can carry us over even the toughest times in life. For those lucky enough to remember where exactly they were that famous night in 1967 or where were you standing ,sitting or falling the night big Packie Bonner made that big right handed save from Timofte in Genoa in 1990 to send The Republic of Ireland into a dream Quarter Final match with Italy.Just ask the question some day or night on a bus on the way to a match or sitting at the airport and an hour of smiling memories will flood out.
For the Rosses Celtic Supporters Club in West Donegal an event linking them for life to Celtic F.C. will be a memory which no one involved will ever forget.
The story will be told for years to come (and of course an odd bit added on) but in early 1995 the club decided to write to Fergus Mc Cann who was in the midst of developing Celtic Park into the miracle it is today.The offer was to give Celtic F.C. the first sod of turf for the new ground all the way from Donegal.
History had always told us that the original sod at the ground back in the late 1800's had been given by the famous Irish land league leader Michael Davitt and that it came from Donegal. The Rosses CSC felt that it would be a great honour to supply a new sod and it would also be in keeping with the Very Strong Donegal and Irish Connection with Celtic.
Within days of the letter being sent, Fergus Mc Cann replied saying that he and the board would be delighted to receive the first sod for the new ground from Ireland and therefore he gave us official permission and the blessing of Celtic FC to cut a sod of turf in Donegal and transport it to Celtic Park.
On the evening of April 10th 1995 many hundreds gathered at a field in Mullachdubh ,in the Rosses, to witness the cutting of the sod by members of the Rosses CSC. In true West Donegal Tradition,the local Fife and drum bands came out and played a few tunes, RTE News carried the story on the 9 o`clock news. The local priest blessed the sod and a big sod measuring a yard square (the metric system took a while to reach the Rosses) was cut and placed on board the bus with 50 supporters and headed off to Glasgow.
As we travelled through the night, the sod was carefully watched over and indeed watered in Larne, for fear that we'd land at Parkhead with the grass faded. Later that night we attended the Celtic v Hibs Scottish Cup Semi-final at Ibrox which we won.Remember in 1995 following many barren years .....getting in to the Scottish Cup final was a big boost.
With a Cup Final place in the bag we arrived the next morning at Parkhead for our date with History, an event and a day that none of us will care to forget.
Fergus Mc Cann graciously met us at the Front Door along with our own Packie Bonner and several Celtic Officials together with TV cameras and the press. The Sod was carried inside the famous main doors and the sense of importance of the day began to hit home. Here we were, 50 Celtic supporters from the Rosses and Gweedore carrying 100 years of a Celtic and Irish Connection forward for another 100 years.
The Ceremony itself was quite simple and many photos were taken when the sod was put in place in the Centre Circle underneath the shadow of what was then the steel structure of the new stand.Fergus McCann said a few words about how he felt it was important to keep the great Irish tradition alive and he thanked us for going to the trouble of getting the sod over. In reply we thanked Celtic F.C. for giving us the honour of giving the sod.
We spoiled ourselves with a lovely meal in the Walfrid restaurant afterwards and as we later left through the Front Door of Parkhead , few of us at that time really took in the importance of the day nor did we fully appreciate what a link the Rosses Celtic Supporters Club had just established with The Current Great Celtic Tradition.
Although the event took place only six years ago the History of it all gets stronger by the year.Before and after the recent Celtic -Juventus game many of us sat in Sharkey's bar in the Gorbals in Glasgow,re-living the day and feeling proud to have been involved.
Today the Rosses Celtic Supporters Club is still going strong offering a way for the Celtic Supporters,young and old,in West Donegal to get over to see the ever improving Bhoys in action . New and fresher members have joined and the Committee has great mix of original members and new hard working officials who are all doing their bit to keep the flag flying. Regular meetings in Sharkey's bar in Annagry are the cornerstone to keeping the club very much alive.
The Honour which the club has and will forever have , being linked in such a strong way with the History of Celtic Football Club ,is a very proud boast for this well run Supporters Club and its members.
Charlie Boyle (Secretary 1995)