O'Hanlon Park Boxing & Fitness Club

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Founded in O'Hanlon Park Community Hall in 2005 by Paul Taaffe, Eddie Lawless and Eugene Dunbar, with initially twenty members. By 2007 the club was forced to move due to the need for a larger venue to St. Nicholas Hall at Philip Street as membership steadily rose to nearly eighty.

The club was known throughout the town for its friendliness and for welcoming equally both boys and girls, potential boxers or those who only wanted to keep fit.

Though very grateful for the Philip Street venue, behind the scenes O'Hanlon Park Residents Association were working hard to acquire extra land at their community centre that would facilitate the extension of the hall and allow the boxing club return to the area. With the country in the grips of a recession this project seemed a long way off.

In 2011 that was all to change.

Paul picks up the story, “I was approached in January by Ronan Muirthile, a producer with Animo Communications, with a view to making a documentary, part of which would include filming in the boxing gym. “I was told that a native Irishman called John Doe was coming home from New York to make a documentary on how volunteers were helping others in society during the recession. It was only after all the filming had finished that he came back to my house on a Monday and then pulled out a cheque for €2,000 and said who he was. “I was really taken aback. We had only taken part in the documentary to get the club across to people because we wanted to better it continuously but to receive that sort of money was like a gift from heaven,” said Paul.

The funding provided by John has been spent on rig-outs, vests and togs as well as head gear and sparring gloves.

“The current hall is great but the size of it means we’re almost at capacity now. It also takes two hours to set it up and then we’ve to take everything down at the end of the night as well and we’re destroying the equipment as a result.

O’Hanlon Park Boxing has gone on to win Louth, Leinster and Irish titles.

Paul with Liam Moore

He insists the club is something for the community rather than just a boxing hall and revealed that he hopes to follow in the footsteps of his mentor Liam Moore in inspiring young people to better themselves. “I met Liam when I was six and I know the inspiration he had on my life. The time he gave up for the likes of me was unreal. He kept boxing going in this town when no one else would and I’ve always remembered that.”

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The Secret Millionaire

Paul Taaffe and some of the children of the O'Hanlon Park Boxing club who featured in the Secret Millionaire programme, from left Colm Wykes, Daniel O'Hagan, Andrew Stokes, CJ McGuinness and in front from left Cameron Fisher, Caoimhe Magee and Aoibheann Murphy.

Since the airing of the Secret Millionaire show both on RTE and Channel 4 the club has received much needed and deserved publicity.

John Fitzpatrick having got to know more about the club, has kept in contact and recently committed himself to assisting with fundraising that will see a new club built at O'Hanlon Park.

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Colin Sydor Taaffe, Anthony Taaffe, John Fitzpatrick, Richard Wykes and local TD Peter Fitzpatrick.

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John Fitzpatrick chats with the locals at O'Hanlon Park.

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Andrew and Louise Stokes with John Fitzpatrick

Paul Taaffe, John Fitzpatrick and Adrienne Taaffe

Paddy Doherty Visits the Club

O'Hanlon Park Boxing Club has played host to two of England's biggest reality TV stars for a Channel 5 show that will feature female boxing among the Traveller community. Celebrity Big Brother 2011 winner Paddy Doherty was at O'Hanlon Park Boxing Club last week with Sally Bercow, the wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

The pair struck up a firm friendship during their time in the Big Brother house and have already made a two-part documentary where they spend a week in each other's lives in a show called "When Paddy Met Sally" on Channel 5.
This time around, Paddy, who first came to prominence in the series "Big Fat Gypsy Wedding", returned to his Irish roots and after speaking to his relations in Naughton's Close, Dundalk, asked if he could bring the Channel 5 crew to the O'Hanlon Park boxing club.
The club's Paul Taaffe - no stranger to TV after being featured in the Irish version of Secret Millionaire last year - was only too happy to accommodate the former boxer and more than 100 local people packed into the gym to see the former bare knuckle boxer in action.
Also present was Sally and well known bare knuckle boxer Michael Quinn McDonagh. And there was no shortage of talent at O'Hanlon Park, especially among the young women from the Traveller community who are really making their mark on the sport. Female boxers included Rachel McDonagh, Chloe Quinn McDonagh, Nadine Fisher, Debbie McDonnell and Kirsty Stewart who were filmed at the gym, along with the O'Hanlon Park club's national champion, 14 year old CJ McGuiness.
Paul said: 'It was great to have Paddy Doherty at the club and to have the opportunity to showcase female boxing, especially among the Travelling community, many of whom are based at O'Hanlon Park. 'Paddy was great with everyone, especially the kids, and didn't mind getting his picture taken or signing autographs - he was a gentleman. It was great to show that boxing is not about fighting - it's about building up self-esteem, having fun and getting some exercise, all at the same time'. by ANNE CAMPBELL

Olympian Paddy Barnes

Irish bronze medallist Paddy Barnes pops in for a visit. The Belfast Holy Family lightweight, who Ireland’s first medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and repeated his success at London 2012.

Boxing Club Opening Hours

Monday: 7.30pm – 9.30pm

Thursday: 7.30pm – 9.30pm

Friday: 7.30pm – 9.30pm

Contact: Paul Taaffe, 087 4139803


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