Four stories from County Clare have been selected to appear in a fascinating new book on the GAA – written by people at the heart of the association nationwide.
‘Grassroots: Stories From The Heart Of The GAA’, is a treasure trove of GAA memories, tales and incidents spanning over 150 years.
“The book generated an incredible response from every county in Ireland, as well as from the Irish abroad,” said author and journalist, PJ Cunningham, who collaborated with Croke Park on the publication.
“I have included stories not only since the GAA’s foundation in 1884, but from before, through to the Civil War and up to modern times.
“The collection is, in essence, the first time that this rich oral tradition of sideline and on-field stories have been put together and published in this form.
“It provides snapshots into the history of the GAA, recounted by the people at the heart of the action, whether those stories are happy or sad, dramatic or ordinary.”
Volume 1 is published and such was the response from the GAA community that work has already begun on a second collection.
The first edition includes stories from the rich history of Clare GAA. Cooraclare native Pádraig MacMathúna recalls a period during ‘The Emergency’ when a club claimed they could not fulfil a Sunday morning fixture because of an imminent invasion from Hitler’s troops. It was an excuse that on later examination by the late Canon Michael Hamilton was found to hold little or no veracity and the club got little sympathy from the county boards for years afterwards.
The octogenarian writer also discloses how a camogie team without the regulation dark tights got round a pernickety referee – thanks to the use of black polish.
In a more conventional account, John Ryan, a Cooleycasey native, paints a graphic picture of the vicissitudes experienced when following Clare hurlers in the mid-fifties.
Other names contributing to the book include former Irish soccer international Niall Quinn, Meath legends Sean Boylan and Bernard Flynn, Tony O’Hehir, son of the legendary Michael O’Hehir, former Galway hurling captain Joe Connolly, Dublin star of the nineties Keith Barr, ex-Armagh player and manager Joe Kernan and RTÉ hurling analyst and former Offaly star, Michael Duignan.
“The folklore and stories that built up around our games are part of the reason that the organisation occupies such a special place in Irish society,” said GAA President, Larry McCarthy.
“The GAA has always been about more than just games, it is part of what we are.”
GRASSROOTS: Stories From The Heart Of The GAA (Volume 1), priced at €19.99, is available now in all good bookshops.
*If you have a GAA anecdote or story you would like to share for Volume 2, contact PJ Cunningham at 086-8217631 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org.