Joe Pat Prunty - a legacy like no other

March 04, 2021

The late Joe Pat Prunty

Joe Pat Prunty, who passed away at the end of January, was one of the greatest visionaries that has ever been involved in Gaelic Games.

No other man, or indeed family has left a similar legacy or footprint on the playing pitches of Ireland and beyond.  

Joe Pat left school at 14 and worked on the family farm until he was 20.  He set up his own agriculture business and purchased his first tractor in 1952.  From there he worked developing his ploughing and drainage skills and in 1965 along with Moffett Engineering, Co. Monaghan developed the first mini-Trencher drainage machine.

From 1952-’60 he worked developing his ploughing skills and in 1960 bought his first drainage machine.   

During this period he played his club football with Roslea Shamrocks (1948-1962) and was full back on the Roslea team who won a four-in-a-row between 1955 and ‘58.   He was also on the Fermanagh team which won the 1959 All-Ireland JFC. 

In the late 60’s he met John Mulgueen, a Clare man from outside Kilrush who worked as a drainage expert in the Teagasc model farm in Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim. 

Drainage machines were invented and built with the help of Tommy and Bertie Fisher and Cecil Moffett. some which are used far and wide. The ‘Gravel Tunnel Machine’ being one.

The first pitch that they developed was Portora Royal School located on the shores of Lough Erne with the first GAA pitch being Lisnaskea Emmets in 1970.  The sand-based pitches were patented as Prunty - Mulqueen surfaces.

Playing surfaces were developed from Kerry to Antrim with many famous pitches redeveloped.  Fitzgerald Stadium Killarney and Pairc Tailteann in Navan being two which were completed in 1986. 

Numerous club pitches, county grounds and centres of excellence were completed with sand-based surfaces.  

Some of the locations include Breffni Park, Celtic Park, St Tiernach's Park in Clones, Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon, Pairc Esler in Newry, the National Sports Campus in Dublin, Pearse Park in Longford and the recent Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence close to Ballyhaunis in Mayo. These are just a few of the many completed. 

Joe Pat leaves a wonderful legacy which is so vividly portrayed in his autobiography ‘A Lifetime of Football, Fields and Faith’ (2016).

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