Local Faces: Ned Gibbons
NED Gibbons was one of the first residents of Killinarden Estate when he moved there with his wife, Joan, in 1977 and went on to forge strong links in the community.
Born in Crumlin in 1947, Ned – who is also known to some as Eddie – attended the local secondary school, Ardscoil Éanna, and was a keen footballer from a young age.
He began playing football with Crumlin United when he was a child, and then progressed to playing senior football with Rialto and Drogheda United, and later served as a referee.
After completing his education, Ned worked for the Army reserves and as a Dublin Bus driver. He then went on to work as a lorry driver for EWL in Cork Street, where he became a shop steward.
Ned’s son, Alan, told The Echo: “Ned and his fellow worker, Tommy Gilson, negotiated with EWL to allow staff to join a trade union and helped improve wages and introduce a pension scheme into the company for staff. He later became a shop steward at EWL.”
At the same time, Ned and Joan were raising their family of five boys in their Killinarden home, and Ned had a strong desire to make a difference in his community – an aim which he would go on to achieve in spades.
“Ned was instrumental in establishing a youth and men’s group along with an old folks’ group in Killinarden,” said Alan.
“At the time, there was no appropriate physical space to host these groups. Ned and other volunteers approached a local businessman, Peter Geoghegan, who kindly allowed his premises in the industrial park facing Killinarden Estate to be used free of charge.
“Ned, along with several other dedicated community activists, pursued a fundraising drive to build a dedicated community space for local residents in Killinarden.
“This eventually bore fruit with the construction of Killinarden Community Centre which was built, debt free, in 1986. The centre has served as an active place for community events ever since.”
Having embedded himself in the community, Ned was then motivated to get involved in local politics and joined the Labour Party in the 1990s.
He worked alongside local politician Mervyn Taylor. When Mervyn was elected to the Dáil, Ned was then co-opted into Deputy Taylor’s vacant council seat.
Ned balanced his work as a councillor with his day job as a delivery driver for Westlink, and his love of football came to the fore again when local football club Sacred Heart FC sought his help.
“Sacred Heart FC sought Ned’s experience in trying to get lands to develop,” explained Alan, “and in 1998, after numerous meetings and setbacks, the council gave the club a 99-year lease.
“One of the principal issues that motivated Ned whilst serving as a councillor was the provision of proper sporting facilities for local people.
“With this in mind, and his committee membership of Sacred Heart FC, he persuaded fellow councillors and South Dublin County Council to allocate playing pitches, under a long-term lease, at Killinarden Hill to Sacred Heart FC.”
In 1999, Ned underwent heart surgery and left his job at Westlink. In the local election that followed, he lost his council seat to fellow Labour Party member Pat Rabbitte.
However, this didn’t dampen his resolve or his strong work ethic, and he has made an indelible mark on the Killinarden community.
“It wasn’t long before he went back driving again as a part-time minibus driver for a family member,” said Alan.
“He was quickly asked to join the committee of Sacred Heart FC, which he played a huge part in getting grants for flood lights and all-weather pitches.”
In 2007, Ned retired and moved to Wexford with his wife where he still resides. But his impact in Killinarden still carries on, not least of all through his sons, including Alan, who is now the chairman of Sacred Heart FC.
“Watching Ned’s involvement in the community when I was growing up meant it was a natural progression for me to be involved in Sacred Heart,” added Alan.
“His move to Wexford was a big loss to the community, but he has left behind two well-established community facilities that play such a vital part of everyday life in the area.”