Cumann Lúthchleas Gael - Gaelic Athletic Association

Cumann Chluain Daimh - Clonduff GAA Club

Clonduff GAA Club is at the heart of the community providing Gaelic Activities

Football, Camogie, Hurling, Ladies Football, Handball, Cultural & Social Activities!

Senior Co Winners - 9 SFC - 1930, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1957, 1980, 2000, AI Football 7s 2009;
3 Senior Ladies FC - 2006, 2007, 2008; 4 Senior Camogie Championship - 2007, 2009, 2010, 2014, Ulster Camogie Club Champions 2014, AI Camogie 7s Shield 2009; Numerous County Handball titles; 2 AI Senior Handball Titles; 2 JHC; Numerous County Scór Titles; 2 AI Scór Sinsir & 3 AI Scór na nÓg Titles

Who is Clonduff Committee & Contacts Weekly Activities Milestones All-Ireland  Winners Gallery Clonduff Manual
Click here to email Clonduff    Clonduff People - Past and Present

The Legend of Clonduff    (The Clonduff Crest)


Cluain Daimh - The  Meadow of the Ox - It is recorded that St Comghall of Bangor sent his followers to this area of Co Down to spread Christianity. They began building a church but every morning, the previous day's work would be demolished.  Upon investigation, it was discovered that an ox, belonging to the local Druid came down from the mountain (The Mournes) each night and razed the building.  One of the monks cut a thorn stick and stuck it into the ground between the ox's meadow and the new church.  The stick grew into a thorn bush and the monk defied the ox to pass the thorn bush - it never did and the building of the church was completed.  The area where the thorn bush allegedly grew is known as Bushtown to this day.  This church is believed to have been situated in the minor townland of Ballycommogue on the border of Ballynanny and Ballyaughian and is believed to take it's name from a 7th Century monk called Mo Chomóg - perhaps the same monk that defied the ox! (Ballycommogue mentioned in Place Names of Northern Ireland by Mícheál B Ó Mainin)

In the two years of research leading to the publication of “Sceal Chluain Daimh” Part 1, the award-winning history of the Clonduff Club, the researchers - Fintan Mussen, Jerry Quinn and Hugh John Harper - decided the Club needed a unique crest. They sought the help of Fintan's wife Margaret who, just 24 hours later came up with the current crest. which depicts the mountains, the bull, the bishop's crozier and the remains of a later church, destroyed by Cromwell's army around 1650 and is located in Ballyaughian/Ballynanny (but not in Ballycommogue) on the Kilkeel Road end of the Old Clonduff Road.

Dr Ciarán Dunbar's Clonduff Blog as Gaelige

Where is Clonduff


Clonduff Parish (Co Down) – consists of 23townlands between the ever-growing village of Hilltown (the main centre of population) and Cabra. The parish, situated in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains on the main Mourne Inland Scenic Route (from Newry), is largely a sheep farming community.  The village of Hilltown is known as the "Gateway to the Mournes" and takes its name from the Hill Family of Hillsborough who had a Hunting Lodge at 'Eight Mile Bridge' the original name for the settlement. The Boley Fair Street Festival in Hilltown  takes place to finish on the second Tuesday in July running from the previous Friday.


Click here for a link to a wonderful Townlands map of Clonduff
Townland names probably came into use in connection with the periodic distribution of tribe lands under the Brehon laws, as the laws of ancient Ireland were called. The habits of the people were at that time mainly pastoral, and settled individual possession of land was not the rule. All the lands belonged to the tribe and to its subdivisions called clans and septs. The rougher portions of the lands, swamps and woods, were held as common property to which each individual was entitled to send his beasts to graze. The arable lands were shared in allotments among the adult tribesmen for tillage purposes. But by a practice known as Gavelkind, the tribal lands were liable to distribution every second or third year. To subserve this system, townland names came into use; boundaries, as we understand them, came later. The study of these names is interesting and instructive if we consider their origin. Physical features, strongholds, local events, all helped to swell the list, and happily, the old Gaelic names still survive, although it is sometimes difficult to recognise them in their anglicised forms.
There are twenty-one townlands in the parish. The following are their names in alphabetical order:
BALLYAUGHIAN: Bealachín (the little pass)
BALLYCASHONE: Baile coir Abhann (homestead beside the river)
BALLYGORIAN: Baile Ui Dhairian (O'Dorrian’s homestead)
BALLYKEEL: Baile Caol (narrow steading)
BALLYMAGHERY: Baile an Mhachaire (homestead of the plain)
BALLYNAGAPPOG: Baile na gCapóg (steading of dock weeds)
BALLYNANNY: Baile an Eanaigh (homestead of the uncut bog)
BALLYWILLY: Baile an Mhaoile (homestead of the bare hill)
CABRA: Cabrach (poor land)
CARCULLION: Carrcuileann (rough ground with holly bushes)
CLEOMAC: Cluichemhaigh (a playing field)
DRUMBONIFF: Druim Banbh (ridge shaped like a pig's back)
GOWARD: Baile an Colbha hÁird (steading of the raised plinth)
ISLANDMOYLE: Aidhleann Maol (flat dwelling place)
KINGHILL: Caodhchill (church in the marsh)
LEITRIM: Liath Druim (grey ridge)
LENISH: Baile Aonghuis (Magenis homestead)
LEOD: Liath Fhód (grey sod)
LISNAMULLIGAN: Lios na mBolgán (breezy spot)
MULLAGHMORE: Mullach Mór (big summit)
STANG: Stang (a measure of land)


Family names, as we know them, came into use in Ireland about the eleventh century. Originally they were intended to perpetuate the memory of some great man, whom his descendants were proud to claim as an ancestor. The patronymic “O” or “Mac” was prefixed to his name and the compound handed down from sire to son as a family name. Thus we get O’Neill – “descendant of (King) Niall”; MacMahon – “descendant of (King) Mahon”. Murphy is the anglicised form of MacMorrough the royal stock of Leinster, and Kelly, or more correctly O Kelly, is the modern representative of the once powerful Connacht clan, O Ceallaigh.
In many instances, family names are derived, not from the personal name of an ancestor, but from some designation bestowed on him to indicate character. For example, the Irish word "cu" which literally means "a champion", is found in many family names and signifies "graceful" or "swift and courageous". Thus we get Mac-Con-Uladh - "the hero of Ulster", shortened into MacCullagh. In the same way Treanor is a shortened form of Trean-fhear, which means “a -strong man”.
Many of the old Irish family names preserve us the trade or profession of he original ancestor. Thus Clark is derived from Cleireach which means the “the clerk”. Ward is a corruption of Mac an Bhaird “son of the minstrel”, and McAteer is a shortened form of Mac an tSaor “son of the tradesman”.
Intensity of religious fervour led many Irish families to adopt as their family name that of a saint with the prefix Gil or Mul, signifying that they placed themselves specially under the care of that particular saint. Thus Malone signifies “servant of St. John”; Murray “devotee of Mary”, and MacAleenan “servant of St. Fionnáin”.
The following is a list of surnames common in the Clonduff parish together with their Gaelic equivalents:-
ANDERSON: Mac Aindriú (son of Andrew)                                                BRADY: Ó Brádaigh (spirited)
BRANIGAN: Ó Branagáin (little raven)                                                         BROWN: De Brun (the brown)
BURNS: Ó Broin (like the raven)                                                                    CAULFIELD: Mac Cathmhaoil (son of a battle chief)
DOYLE: Mac Dubh Gaill (black stranger)                                                     FAGAN: Ó Faodhagain (descended from little Hugh)
FITZPATRICK: (Mac Giolla Phádraig (client of St. Patrick)                      GRANT: De Grannt (gigantic)
GREENAN: Ó Grianáin (pleasant)                                                                  GRIBBON: Mag Roibin (son of Robin)
HANLON: Ó hAnnluain (a champion)                                                          McALINDON: Mac Giolla Fhionntáin (client of St. Fionntán)
McAVOY: Mac Giollabhuide (yellow lad)                                                    McCONVILLE: Mac Conmhaoil (son of a high chief)
McGAW: Mag Ádaimh (son of Adam)                                                        McGEE: Mac Aodha (son of Hugh)
McGINNIS: Mag an Aonghuir (son of Aongus)                                        McGILL: Mac an Ghoill (son of the foreigner)
McGINN: Mag Fhinn (the fair)                                                                       McGREEVY: Mag Riabhaigh (brindled)
McLOUGHLIN: Mac Lachlainn (son of Lochlin)                                        McPOLIN: Mac Póilin (son of little Paul)
MORGAN: Ó Muireagáin (a sailor)                                                               MURNAN: Ó Murnáin (of a sea god)
O'HAGAN: Ó hAgáin (young fellow)                                                           O'HARE: Ó hÍr (a champion)
WALLS: De Bháll (from the valley)                                                              WILSON: Mac Liam (son of William)

Hilltown Village - The first marquis of Downshire was a man with the surname of Hill and he gave his name to both Hilltown and Hillsborough. The village of Hilltown was established in 1765 when the Marquis built a church for his tenants (and himself) to worship in. This church, though now disused, was and still is the central focus of the village being located in 'The Square'. It is reputed that the bell on the Hilltown church was so loud that it could be heard in Hillsborough and had to be silenced as it broke many windows between Mr Hill's two residences.
Mr Hill also established a market house and coaching inn opposite the church. These are now incorporated in the current Downshire Arms Hotel.
Before being known as Hilltown the small community living near the bridge (spanning the Bann River) at the bottom of the hill was known as 'Eight Mile Bridge' as it was eight Irish miles from Newry town.
Hilltown has always had and still has a proliferation of pubs - there are still seven in the main street but at one time had 12 or 13! Spirits were smuggled across the mountains from Newcastle on the coast and served the local hostelries. The smugglers route still exists today and is know as "The Brandy Pad".
The village is currently a rapidly expanding commuter centre, with six new private housing developments since the latter part of the 1990s. It is commonly known as "The Gateway to the Mournes" and as the traveller rounds the last of "The Seven Bends" on the Newry road, heading into the village, the aptness of this nickname is all too apparent. The Kilkeel road from the village, via the "S of Spelga" is one of the most panoramic in the country! The River Bann rises above the Spelga Dam, flows in and out of it, meanders through the countryside until it reaches Lough Neagh and flows out the other side before reaching the Atlantic Ocean near Castlerock in Co Derry. Banbridge is built on the Upper Bann and Coleraine is on the Lower Bann.

Gaelic Games in Clonduff


A number of Down Clubs dispute who is the oldest but can anyone else provide such concrete evidence? This extract was taken from the archives of 'The Banbridge Chronicle' dated Saturday 5th November 1887, making the date of the game 1st November 1887, exactly three years after the founding of The GAA!

The Banbridge Chronicle past editions are stored in The Irish and Local Studies Library, Abbey Street, Armagh and really worth a visit - the staff are extremely helpful!

Press reports (Banbridge Chronicle) show the history of Gaelic Football in Clonduff  reaching as far back as 1887 when the parish sported two teams, The Hilltown Amateurs and The Red Hands.
Gaelic games flourished for a few years but then subsided and it was not until 1910 that the parish again fielded a Gaelic team. During the next ten years the parish fielded teams at Junior and Senior level under names such as The Emeralds, The Harps and The Sarsfields.
1920 can be identified as the defining year of the modern Clonduff Shamrocks. Success on the playing field over the next few years was commonplace and it was in this era that Clonduff’s long tradition of providing quality County players began – McPolin, Brannigan, Doyle, Mussen and O’Hanlon were synonymous with both the Clonduff and County teams.
For most of the thirties the club was hardly a force to be reckoned with but re-emerged in strength during the early forties. Their tradition of providing County players was to the fore again and when Down won the 1946 All Ireland, Clonduff provided six of the panel.
In 1955 the club split into two distinct entities – Cabra and Hilltown – the two ends of the parish. Two years later they met in the County Final. The teams amalgamated in 1959 and the following year two of their players won All-Ireland Senior football medals with Kevin Mussen being the first Northerner to bring the Sam Maguire across the border.
In 1967 a group of ladies got together to found the Clonduff Camogie Club - an effort had been made in the early fifties but this didn't get off the ground. This time around the committee was strong enough and had the backing and support of the Football Club. They started at Junior Level and progressed to Intermediate Level where they mainly remained for almost 30 years with a few unsuccessful flurries into the Senior League. They took up permanent residence in the Senior League in 2003 and have grown to be one of the strongest Camogie Clubs in Ulster, though they had to wait until 2007 to win their first Senior Championship
Clonduff opened its own grounds in 1968 - previously they had played in different venues throughout the parish. At this stage there were five male and one female team. By the time the new clubrooms and revamped playing field opened in 1998 there were 13 male and 5 female (Camogie) teams.
When Scór competitions were introduced in the early 1970s.Clonduff became one of the leading participating clubs. They also participated in the CCD (Camogie organised) Ceol, Ceant agus Damhsa. They won All Ireland titles in both competitions, picking up Céili and Set Dancing Scór na nÓg titles in 1993 with just nine different dancers - a feat that has never been surpassed. They won three All Ireland CCD titles in 1997 (Set Dancing, Quiz and Solo Singing) - the last year of the competition.
The men of Clonduff first took up the Camán in 1983 in preparation for the GAA Centenary Celebrations though the juveniles first started playing in 1973. With a few exceptions they have remained a Junior Club and currently compete in the Ulster and County League and thanks to the efforts of a number of adult players, the oldest game in the country is thriving with the club fielding teams at U-8 to Adult level.
Handball again developed in early-mid 1980s mainly thanks to a number of young men who had been students at St Colman's College, Newry. The local council (Newry and Mourne) provided a juvenile alley in the village in 1989, but due to the absence of any local structures progress was slow to non-existent! By the end of 1990s it's popularity started re-emerging and the club can boast numerous County, Ulster and All Ireland winners/contenders.
In 1987 when Down won its second All Ireland Minor Championship, the club provided six of the panel. In the All Ireland wins of 1991 and 1994, Clonduff’s Ross Carr and Cathal Murray played pivotal roles. John Fegan played at full forward when Down Minors lifted their third title in 1999. Shane O'Hagan was on the team that lifted the Minor trophy for the 4th time in 2005.
Y2K saw the Senior Footballers collect their ninth County title and their first in 20 years - the same goal-keeper, Johnny McAleavey was in situ for both Championship wins! Johnny had won a National Football League medal with Down in 1983.
The dawn of the new millennium produced a great drive for the participation of females in sport and Clonduff was no exception. In 2001 the Ladies Football team was formed and from their tentative first game in Annaclone in the Junior League in 2002, they quickly moved through the ranks winning Junior Championship and League in 2003, Intermediate Championship and League in 2005, the Senior Championship in 2006 which they retained in 2007 and 2008 (they also won their first Senior League in 2007). Eight of the girls playing on the 2007 winning team became 'Double Double' Champions when the Senior Camogie team picked up its first Senior Championship in the same year. In 2006 16-year-old Paula Gribben became a dual All Ireland winner when she played every minute of every game in the successful U16B Camogie and Ladies Football Championship winning teams - in between the two All Irelands she was 'Player of the Game' in the Down Senior Ladies Final and two weeks later she helped her club to the Minor Camogie Championship and League double!
In Centenary year (1984), Clonduff GAA Club published its McNamee award winning history covering its previous 97 years - the  second volume of our Club's illustrious history was published in 2007.  In 1999 Clonduff was one of the first clubs in the country to go online - the website ( is updated on a daily basis. Clonduff have fully embraced other new technologies - have used Youtube (clonduffgac) for a number of years, set up a FaceBook page (clonduffgac) in 2011 and became the first team in Down to 'Tweet' score-by-score, (@clonduffgac) the a Senior League game between the Senior Footballers of Clonduff and Bryansford in May 2012.
In 2007 there were 26 teams fielding on one owned and one rented adjacent field. A major fund-raising drive provided the finance to purchase the rented field and some adjacent land. It was agreed that Clonduff would make moves towards integration, where all 'Clonduff' activities would be under the one umbrella in order to secure funding and sponsorship and because it was the way to go! In June 2009 the development plans were approved by Newry and Mourne District Council and they secured a major slice of funding from Sport NI to develop, a much-needed third playing surface.
In August 2012 Clonduff opened their new flood-lit pitch which will go a long way in accommodating the 31 teams in all field sports facilitated by Clonduff GAA Club. There are great ambitions within the club to provide a multi-purpose community facility for the ever-increasing population of the Parish of Clonduff. They went some way towards this when they acquired an additional piece of land adjacent to the main pitch.
Clonduff has won numerous non-playing awards - South Down Club of the Year (many times), County Scór Club of the Year, AIB Club of the Year County tile 2000, County and Provincial titles 2001, Irish News Ulster Club of the Year for 2007. During 2007 Ulster GAA launched a pilot scheme for the  Club Maíth (Good Practice) Award - Clonduff was one of only two clubs to gain a Platinum Award!

In 2012 Clonduff celebrated the playing of the first Gaelic Football match by a Parish team 125 years earlier. The celebration was a year-long affair embracing all aspects of the Community Organisation that Clonduff GAA Club has now become (check out programme under 2012 Milestones on this website). Undoubtedly the highlight was the Celebratory Mass and Banquet held on Sunday 4th November to coincide with the playing of that first game on 5th November 1887. It was a whole day event with the Mass commencing at 1pm followed by the seven-course Banquet and special Entertainment which officially concluded at 11 pm that night! and attended by the great and the good of the GAA Family from Clonduff, Down, Ulster and Ireland with video links to various parts of the world. the entire event was streamed live across the world - a magnificent achievement for a magnificent club!


Marker A = Location of Clonduff GAC (Google Maps)


© Anita Brannigan
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