Niamh Heffernan

World Handball Champion

Claregalway Historical and Cultural Society

Niamh Heffernan with her parents Pat and Josephine and sister Michelle at the homecoming from Canada in 2015, CC-BY-NC-ND
Niamh at play
GAA Handball Ireland, CC-BY-NC-ND
Claregalway Handball Club Niamh Heffernan and James Cummins 26/10/2017
Paul Fennell, CC-BY-NC-ND
Niamh at play
GAA Handball Ireland, CC-BY-NC-ND
Niamh Heffernan 17&U champion 2018
Claregalway Handball Club, CC-BY-NC-ND
Old Handball Alley, by the Clare River beside Dunleavys, CC-BY-NC-ND


Niamh Heffernan was born on November 24th, 2001 and lives in Carnmore in the parish of Claregalway, Co. Galway with her sister Michelle and her parents Josephine and Pat.  She is currently in 6th year in Coláiste Baile Chlair, Baile Chlair (Claregalway) and is a member of the Claregalway Handball Club. Niamh is an All-Ireland U-16 GAA Camogie Winner and World Champion!


World Handball Champion

Niamh won the 2015 World Handball Championships in Calgary, Canada. The World Championships are held every three years. In 2018, she will be representing Ireland again in the World Championships, in Minneapolis, United States. She competes in two codes of Handball, four wall and one wall. Niamh was the only player out of 800 players in the Canada Worlds to win 4 titles in the competition. Niamh has won every honour in Juvenile Handball titles Provincial, Irish and World.



Interview Transcription


held Wednesday, July 18th, 2018 at the Claregalway Museum in Rooaunmore.

Clare Horgan:                    Hello. Welcome to the Claregalway Historical Society, “Our Irish Women,” interview series, in conjunction with the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Turlough Castlebar, and the Irish Community Archive Network, ICAN. Here in Claregalway in 2018 we are celebrating local women over the past hundred years. My name is Clare Horgan of Cregboy and I am a member of the Claregalway Historical and Cultural Society here. In this episode, we are talking to local woman Niamh Heffernan of Carnmore, winner of the 2015 World Handball Championship.

Clare Horgan:                    Hello, Niamh. Welcome to the series. Let’s start with where you were born and where you live now.

Niamh Heffernan:           I was born in Galway and I live in Carnmore ever since.

Clare Horgan:                    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Niamh Heffernan:           I live with my sister, Michelle, and my two parents. I went to Carnmore National School as a child, and I go to Claregalway Secondary School now. Also, with handball, I play camogie, with Carnmore Camogie Club.

Clare Horgan:                    Do you have any favourite singers or band or hobbies that you like to do?

Niamh Heffernan:           The Script.

Clare Horgan:                    Where’s your mom and dad from?

Niamh Heffernan:           They’re from Galway.

Clare Horgan:                    the area, or?

Niamh Heffernan:           My Dads from town and moms from Athenry.

Clare Horgan:                    How did you get into playing handball?

Niamh Heffernan:           At 11 when I took up handball and I joined Claregalway Handball Club. My sister, Michelle, was playing and I used to love to watch her. Mike Cullina was training Michelle at the time and encouraged me to start along with Joe O’Connell.

Clare Horgan:                    Who is your inspiration?

Niamh Heffernan:           My dad.

Clare Horgan:                    What’s your favourite part of handball?

Niamh Heffernan:           My favourite part is to go around to all the competitions and playing with different people, and then we’d like to stay with each other. Like, if I went up North, I’d stay with them, and if they came down here, they’d stay with me, so.

Clare Horgan:                    … Okay, then so, they became good friends. When did you start competitions?

Niamh Heffernan:           I started competitions in the 2012 Worlds, I wasn’t playing long, but the Worlds’ run and everyone in our club was encouraged to play, so … and I got to the qualifier.

Clare Horgan:                    Where did you practice? Locally?

Niamh Heffernan:           I practised down in Carnmore then, but where after recently opened a new Claregalway Handball Club, so I practice there now.

Clare Horgan:                    Do you get nervous before competitions?

Niamh Heffernan:           No, I don’t.

Clare Horgan:                    Not anymore?

Niamh Heffernan:           I Just play. Whatever happens, happens.

Clare Horgan:                    And, what’s your favourite memory so far?

Niamh Heffernan:           The Worlds 2015. That was amazing.

Clare Horgan:                    Where was that? In Canada?

Niamh Heffernan:           In Canada, yeah.

Clare Horgan:                    And, where in Canada?

Niamh Heffernan:           Calgary.

Clare Horgan:                    Have you been to Britain?

Niamh Heffernan:           No, no, just abroad, I’ve just been to Canada, and I’m going to Minnesota in three weeks to do the World Champs again.

Clare Horgan:                    What does handball mean to you?

Niamh Heffernan:           It means the world to me like I train every day, and even if I’m outside like I’d always have a ball in my hand. Even inside, I’ll have a ball in my hand, just going around, like so.

Clare Horgan:                    You just love it.

Niamh Heffernan:           I love it so much, yeah.

Clare Horgan:                    So, Niamh, when is your next competition?

Niamh Heffernan:           My next competition will be the Worlds in Minnesota in three weeks’ time. I got on the Irish team, so I’ll be representing Ireland in the next Worlds in Minnesota. So, I’ll be looking forward to that.

Clare Horgan:                    Well, well done and good luck on that.

Niamh Heffernan:           Thanks.

Clare Horgan:                    Our Irish Women’s exhibition will be open in the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Castlebar, County Mayo, in October 2018. It will feature women’s stories from across the Irish Community Archive Network. Please visit for more.

This page was added on 27/07/2018.

Comments about this page

  • As a player who grew up in the old alley, it’s great to see local players showing that an alley is always needed in Claregalway

    By Sean Duggan (29/05/2020)

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