GAA President, John Horan, pictured with Operation Transformation host, Kathryn Thomas, at Croke Park.
GAA President, John Horan, pictured with Operation Transformation host, Kathryn Thomas, at Croke Park.

GAA clubs encouraged to register for ‘Ireland Lights Up’ 2021


‘Ireland Lights Up’, the popular walking initiative, is returning in January 2021 in partnership with the GAA, Operation Transformation, and Get Ireland Walking.

For a fourth year, clubs across the 32 counties are being encouraged to turn on their floodlights to provide for community members a safe walking environment during the dark winter evenings. As ever, Operation Transformation (which returns to our screens each Wednesday from January 6th to February 24th) will shine a light on Ireland Lights Up by showcasing participation clubs each week of the hit RTÉ show.

Ireland Lights Up will take on an additional significance in 2021 as people have increasingly turned to walking to support their health and wellbeing since the onset of the pandemic. While we can’t predict the level of Covid-19 restrictions we will face in the new year, the organisers of Ireland Lights Up and the clubs involved will take every due diligence to ensure those who want to enjoy a walk at their local GAA grounds can do so safely and within recommended public health guidelines. Measures include:

· Registration process with Get Ireland Walking to track all club and participant involvement

· A new club ‘MyLife Steps Challenge’ with Irish Life, CSR partners of the GAA Healthy Club Project, to ensure ‘Every Step Counts’

· Once-off grant for clubs to support the cost of delivering Ireland Lights Up (provided by Healthy Ireland through Sport Ireland, T&Cs apply)

Uachtarán CLG, John Horan, said: “GAA volunteers have gone above and beyond when supporting their communities during this pandemic and I have no doubt our clubs will once again support this great walking initiative come the new year.

“Club walking tracks remained open during the second lockdown period and thousands of community members have benefitted from accessing them. Ireland Lights Up isn’t about maximising numbers this time around, it’s about providing community members, particularly those most vulnerable to Covid-19, with a safe place to enjoy some outdoor exercise while adhering to the public health guidelines.”

Speaking about the initiative Frank Feighan T.D. Minister of State for Public Health and Wellbeing said: “This is a wonderful initiative that helps everyone up and down the country to get out safely, be active and to reach their recommended 30 mins of physical activity each day during the dark winter months. At Healthy Ireland we are encouraging everyone to make a plan for themselves to keep well this winter and one of the easiest ways to do that is by getting out and getting active in the fresh air as often as you can. I congratulate the GAA and Get Ireland walking for their work on making this initiative possible this winter within the Covid guidance.”

Clubs that complete the registration process for Ireland Lights Up and adhere to the necessary criteria will be covered by Get Ireland Walking's insurance for all walk leaders and participants. However, irrespective of GAA membership status, leaders and participants are not covered by the GAA Injury Benefit Fund for this initiative. All clubs that register will be issued details of how to apply for the once-off Healthy Ireland / Sport Ireland grant (max €1,000 per club) to support the costs of delivering the initiative.

To register your club and review the full Terms & Conditions of participation, go to: https://www.getirelandwalking.ie/irelandlightsup/

In addition to Ireland Lights Up, the GAA’s Community & Health department will deliver with Irish Life a club ‘Steps Challenge’ hosted on the Irish Life MyLife App. During the initial lockdown in June, 12,000 walkers representing almost 450 clubs recorded 2.2 billion steps over the four weeks on the MyLife App. Regardless of participation in Ireland Lights Up, all GAA clubs can get involved in the Steps Challenge and a separate communication will be issued this week to clubs outlining how to get involved. Some great prizes will apply.

Please direct any club queries to blanaid.carney@gaa.ie