The dome inflates

Photo: @CiBuckley

From today there’s a new landmark on the East Mayo horizon, just a few miles down the road from Knock where the basilica has long been a dominant feature in the skyline.

The new feature, set in the countryside just off the road between Knock and Ballyhaunis, comes in the form of the giant air dome that Connacht GAA have erected at their Centre of Excellence. Work has been proceeding over the last few months in laying the 4G pitch and today the dome was inflated. An impressive sight it made too.

According to Connacht GAA it’ll be the largest indoor playing dome in the world. Under the covering there’s a full-sized GAA pitch, as well as a running track and other training facilities. It’s due to be ready for use in late September this year.

Here’s what it looks like on the inside.

The cost of the facility is reportedly €3.1m, with €2.1m of that coming from Government funding while the GAA at central level contributed €700,000. Connacht GAA are on the hook for the remainder but, by the looks of it, it’s money well spent as I’d imagine it’ll be a very heavily used facility.

According to this piece on RTÉ’s website, the dome could also be used for non-sporting events as it could easily be converted into a fully functional conference centre.

When I’m next in the west this summer I’ll definitely make it my business to swing by the Centre of Excellence to give this cracking new facility a closer look. Well done to all involved on bringing this project to fruition.

13 thoughts on “The dome inflates

  1. Very interesting project. Just a shame the whole thing has been done in Bekan rather than in the Castlebar/Westport area. There’s no point having the potential of a massive conference and event facility when there is a lack of infrastructure, particularly hotel beds, in the area to cater for such an event. If this had been done somewhere along the new Castlebar to Westport dual carriageway it could have been a massive success beyond just gaelic games.

  2. Well done to Connacht GAA – a wonderful resource for the entire province and should help in maintaining and increasing the high standards of excellence seen in the last decade.

  3. Well done to Connacht Gaa it will be of benefit to Mayo and all the Connacht counties and it’s money well spent. I remember being at an FBD league game a few years ago and the heavens opened all that was missing that day was Noah’s ark so I welcome this devolopment

  4. There is no shame in where this centre is located , much the same was said about our great Airport. This is and will be a huge success. Great to have people of vision in the East Mayo area. It goes back all the way to 1879.

  5. I’m from Bekan, it’s great to have this in the village and that comment about infrastructure and hotels is way off. Hotels in Claremorris, Knock and Kiltimagh and plenty of B&Bs around

  6. Maybe this is a silly question but does air pressure inside the dome keep it up or is it like a great big bouncy castle with air filled pockets? If the later it looks a lot more streamlined than I thought it would be! Looks fantastic would love to see a lot more of these. Huge potential

  7. Someone mentioned hotels sure aren’t there at least 2 hotels in Knock and loads of B & B’s there’s B and B in Ballyhaunis and Castlerea as well as Tully’s hotel and Roscommon town is within driving distance as is Claremorris Kiltimatgh even Ballina or Castlebar aren’t a million miles away if theres a big concert or something on. Garth Brooks could play 105 nights here and no one One to bother him except a few sheep and cows. John Prenty said the venue can hold 10,000 people subject to permission from Mayo Co Co and the fire department hopefully Covid won’t last forever. The venue has enormous potential and is a boost for rural Ireland fair play to Michael Ring’s dept for giving it funding before he left office I’m Sure Dara will chip in a few quid now too. Being from rural Mayo myself but not the East Mayo area im delighted with this project and looking forward to attend events here. Fair play to the Gaa they are light years ahead of the FAI. You must be a proud man Willie Joe with this on your doorstep

  8. I see the Boyler played for Davitts last night – some warrior and battle.
    Was anyone at any games to give update on the county players.

  9. I was at Ballina v Breaffy earlier. Clarke and O’Hora started for Ballina. Ciaran Treacy wasn’t there, Mikey Murray was an unused substitute.
    O’Hora probably the standout player for Ballina, Evan Regan got a lot of frees & 1 excellent mark and Ger Caff had a great game at full back. Frank Irwin came on in the 2nd half and looked very sharp. Set up the 2nd goal with a run in from the sideline.

    Breaffy conceded a lot of frees from runners through the middle. It cost them the game ultimately. Hennelly, Matty Ruane and the 3 O’Sheas were playing. Matty started off strong and scored a nice point. Seemed to injure his hand before half-time and was quiet afterwards. Seamie and Aidan both got on the scoresheet too.

  10. Mcloughlin wasnt playing for Knockmore and Castlebar have their intermediate team in Michael Walsh. They presumably played a challenge instead but not sure who.

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