The game of handball is an ancient one in Ireland and County Cavan had its share of one/three or four wall alleys from the eighteen and nineteen hundreds onwards. These were usually built on ground donated or leased for a nominal sum in the same manner as Fairgreens.
As they were built adjoining the roadway quite a lot of them were demolished in road improvement as traffic volume grew. Still it is possible to find remains of these ball alleys around the county and quite a few stories are told of the social side of hand- balling, which, as with most sports of that time, was the preserve of the male population only.
When Philip Clarke was appointed School Principal at Milltown Primary School in April 1981 he had strong ambitions to get all students involved in playing handball. This was indeed a difficult task as there were no facilities available except the school sidewall.
However this very limited facility introduced children to handball and many went on to play the game after leaving Primary School especially at St Patrick’s College, Cavan. Due to great support from Fr. John Cooney CC , Mrs Eileen McCaffrey NT and Mrs Nuala Corrigan NT, Philip set about building an alley on the school grounds. Following intensive fundraising the present alley was built 1994/95 by Peter McGuire following preliminary work using various FAS schemes; The new alley was officially opened by Fr John Gilhooley and Paul Brady in 1996.
Paul of course went on to win the US Handball Association Pro-Stop tournament 2002, to become the first Irishman to win a US Pro-stop event. He has won many accolades since then.
Milltown Primary School has produced many fine handballers over the years but students from 1996 onwards have had the benefit of an alley at school. However to compete in 20 by 40 competition students must practice using indoor alleys at St Patricks College, Cavan.
Milltown Primary School has hosted the Cumann na mBunscoil Cavan County Finals on many occasions and ran Handball Promotion Days